March 20, 2005

Haunting tale from a convent

Sunday Business Post

Rock Me Gently: A True Story of a Convent Childhood, By Judith Kelly, Bloomsbury, €15.80.

I read Sleepers by Lorenzo Carcaterra many years ago and vividly recall having to stop halfway through, as the story became too harrowing. I never did finish the book. Rock Me Gently by Judith Kelly awakens those same feelings. The complete helplessness you feel as stories of childhood abuse unfold before your eyes is overwhelming.

Kelly's skill in telling her story is that she never resorts to self-pity. Rather, she tells her story in such a detached manner that it is evident the abuse she suffered went so deep as to numb her to its effects.

Kelly's father died when she was young, and she and her mother moved in with her grandparents. However, her mother's romance with another man caused endless rows with her grandparents, and eventually led to them moving out.

Her mother had difficulty finding somewhere to live that also accepted children. She was eventually forced to leave eight-year-old Kelly with the nuns in Nazareth House, a Catholic orphanage in “middle England'‘. Her mother left, promising that “it's not forever, Judith; it's just until I can find somewhere for us to live'‘.

It was four years before she came to take her away for good, too long a time to save her daughter from the life-altering abuse she suffered.

Posted by kshaw at March 20, 2005 06:17 AM