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The Whipping Club Hardcover – February 10, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Henry weaves multilayered themes of prejudice, corruption and redemption with an authentic voice and swift, seamless dialogue. A powerful saga of love and survival. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

The Whipping Club was selected for the O - Oprah Magazine July Summer Reading Club.

“Set in 1960′s Ireland, Henry’s riveting debut novel explores the far-reaching effects of a single decision.”
--Publisher's Weekly

“Deborah Henry’s eloquent, magnificently designed novel . . . A story that will draw out every straw of emotion in your soul. This is the best novel I have read in three years.”
--Herald de Paris

The Whipping Club is an intimate, assured first novel, the story of Marian McKeever and her child hidden by cruelty and custom. It rings with the authenticity of shame and courage. You can put it down but you will not forget it.”
Jacquelyn Mitchard, best-selling author of The Deep End of the Ocean

“Deborah Henry is a natural storyteller and she is far more. Her novel The Whipping Club is a compelling read, but it also seriously explores the terrible ways the world –as a society, as individuals — often fails its children. And most importantly, her book offers a searingly lovely vision of how wrongs can be made right. Deborah Henry is a splendid young novelist who deserves a wide audience.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler

The Whipping Club at once evokes a hauntingly beautiful literary landscape, engaging me immediately. Henry writes with great passion, deep vulnerability and sharpest prose about perils and plights, joy and triumph. Commanding a winsome literary voice, Henry would go far to tell many a tale. And she should.”
Da Chen, best-selling author of Colors of the Mountain and Sounds of the River

"Exquisitely written, unflinching and spare, The Whipping Club is the haunting portrait of a family that challenges a system whose chilling atrocities toward children are at once beyond comprehension and altogether real. Deborah Henry is a gifted storyteller. The steely realism of her prose, her fiercely drawn characters and startling plot twists make The Whipping Club one of those rare novels that linger in the mind long after the last page is turned."
Dawn Tripp, best-selling author of Game of Secrets

“Harrowing, haunting, and brilliantly written, Henry’s stunner of a novel is about secrets, so-called sins, and the way even the deepest scars can begin to heal. So breathtakingly good it seems burned into your heart.”
Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

“A story of survival, redemption, and the courage that is born of love. One of my favorite reads of the decade!”
Susan Henderson, author of Up From The Blue --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: T. S. Poetry Press (February 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984553185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984553181
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,628,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Julie A. Smith on April 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a tale of the injustices wrought by the Irish Industrial Schools and orphanages in the 1950's and 1960's.

Marian, a teacher at a Jewish school, is Irish Catholic and her boyfriend Ben is Jewish. Shortly before meeting Ben's parents, Mariam finds out that she is pregnant. After a totally disastrous meeting, Marian decides to go to a Mother Baby Home to have her child, who, she is told, is subsequently given up and adopted by an American family.

Years later, after Ben and Marian have married and become parents to a daughter named Johanna, a nurse from the home visits Marian to tell her that the son she had given up, Adrian, is NOT in America, but is at an orphanage where he is being mistreated.

This novel follows Mariam as she tries to regain custody of Adrian. It speaks of horrific abuse at the hands of the system, a mother's heartache in having failed her son, and the bias and prejudice that contributes to what is already an unbearable situation.

My feelings: The novel feels a bit rushed and jumpy at the start, and reads more intellectually than emotionally - the writing is rather detached, and, as a reader, I was not able to connect with any of the characters. I felt as though I were a dispassionate observer almost through the very end of the novel. If this were a non-fiction title, that would be acceptable; however, as fiction, most readers expect some feeling to come from the pages, especially around the issues that this novel centers around.

Marian imagines prejudice where none exists, and seems very close-minded and selfish. Her husband Ben rightly believes that there is something a bit "off" about Adrian (and that is understandable, given how he has been raised up to this point).
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Format: Paperback
The Whipping Club by Deborah Henry is a terrific book with strong characters and a gut-wrenching plot.

What starts out as a love story between a Catholic woman, Marian McKeever and a Jewish man, Ben Ellis in Ireland in the 60's, familiar in its plot, or so I thought, turns into a totally different animal as the book progresses. It is not at all what it seems on the surface it is so much more.

Marian and Ben have somewhat of a happy ending as regards to the fact that they do get married and have a daughter, but It is really the story of Marian and Ben's biological child, Adrian, who grows up in an orphanage run by the catholic church, where the plot gets interesting. You see Marian was pregnant with Ben's son Adrian before they were wedded and her uncle, Father Brennan, convinces Marian that it is best that she give the child up for adoption and not tell Ben, believing that Marian and Ben will never be married. Marian believes that her son has been adopted by an American family and has had a good life.

What turns this tale on its head is when Marian finds out that her son Adrian has been in Dublin all his life, being mistreated and suffering in a local orphanage. My heart broke while reading this book and actually brought tears to my eyes, which rarely happens to me while reading. I don't want to give away anymore of the plot, but suffice it to say that it is an amazing story with depth and complexity and I highly encourage people to read it.
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Format: Paperback
This book takes place in Ireland in the 1960's. After discovering that she is pregnant by her Jewish boyfriend, Catholic Marian goes to a mother's home to give birth. She gives up her son who she thought was being placed with a family in America. Ten years later she is married and has a daughter. A nurse from the mother's home drops by her house and tells her that her son wasn't in America, but was placed in a Catholic orphanage. Marian attempts to regain custody of her son, but soon discovers that it isn't as easy as she hoped.

I thought the premise of the book was interesting. However, the writing style was only so-so and the characters seemed a bit flat. Additionally, the book continually shifted from one point-of-view to another. I found this a bit annoying and even confusing at times. As such, I didn't enjoy the book as much as I hoped I would.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Think updated , middle class " Angela's Ashes" and you will get a sense of this haunting novel. The brutality of the Irish Roman Catholic church and the repressive societal standards of the day are on display here. Henry writes a story which takes place in Dublin in the 1950's and 1960's. Marian is a young, single teacher who finds herself in a family way. Her uncle, a priest, encourages her to give up the baby for adoption and keep the entire shameful affair a secret. Marian reluctantly complies. Fast forward ten years later. Marian is happily married ( to the father of her son who was given up) and the mother of a little girl. The secret that Marian has kept from her husband is revealed and the ensuing complications are heartbreaking. The author's research into a shameful history is conveyed in a gripping tale which will simultaneously cause the reader to feel rage, pity, and tenderness. Marian and her husband Ben are heroic people dealing with complications, cruelty and and abuse that are impossible for decent people to comprehend. Their journey to save their son will long resonate with the reader . This is a beautiful novel.
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