Whispering Hope Book Review

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Whispering Hope book review, tells of true stories of time spent incarcerated in Ireland’s state funded Magdalene Laundries.

Laundries that some believed to be training schools and run by the church during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.

There Are Five Different Stories;

Told By:

  • Kathleen
  • Marina
  • Nancy
  • Diane
  • Marie

Along With The Founder Of Magdalene Survivors Together;

  • Steven O’Riordan

I knew this was going to be a difficult read, but I didn’t realise just how difficult I would find it, shocking and unbelievable.

I’d never heard of the Magdalene Laundries until it was featured on ITVs Lorraine show, one of the ladies, Kathleen appeared on the show with Steven O’Riordan.

Kathleen told her harrowing story and it had me gripped.

So when I heard the book Whispering Hope was due for release two days after the Lorraine show aired I pre-ordered mine straight away.

Whispering Hope is a detailed, shocking account of their stay (put there as children) at some of the 13 laundries across Ireland.

Children and women placed there (between 1922-1996 records for almost half the women show) by families, priests, state agencies and some of their own free will.

Over 30,000 passing through the laundry doors since the first one was set up in 1765, the last closing its doors in 1996!

1996?? That would have made me 27 years old!

Why were these laundries still running then? Why hadn’t I heard about it? Why was it covered up?

There were so many questions for me whilst reading this book!

Physical and psychological abuse that led to lifetime of hurt and shame.

Some women were left so institutionalised that they were never able to live independently again!

I couldn’t put Whispering Hope down!

I read the whole book from start to finish in two days!

To say I was shocked about the abusive treatment that women and children received was an understatement, I found myself in tears many a time.

There are too many incidents to tell you, but there are accounts that have stayed with me;

Kathleen broke a teacup; she was then made to wear that broken teacup on a piece of rope around her neck, day and night for three days!

There were no mirrors in the laundries because the nuns thought that encouraged vanity!

A pretty girl was taken to a laundry because it was thought she would be a temptation to men!

Although all of the ladies tell their own stories in the book, to me they have many things in common during their time spent in the laundries;

Whispering Hope Book Review

  • Shame
  • Poverty
  • Humiliation
  • No love given to them
  • Saw violence
  • Emotionless
  • Made to feel worthless

These wonderful ladies did eventually get the apology that Steven fought for.

They are true survivors, many of them keeping their harrowing stories to themselves because they felt ashamed.

I’m glad I read Whispering Hope, although it made me feel sad, angry, happy, relieved, a true mix of emotions that changed within seconds.

If you have the pennies to be able to buy this book, then please buy it and support the ladies or should I say survivors of the Magdalene Laundries.

It is a difficult read and it will stay with me forever, but it is a message of hope and true determination.

As the first line of the song Whispering Hope says;

‘When the dark midnight is over, watch for the breaking of day.

Ladies, I salute you!



  1. Kelly Woolfrey

    7th September 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I will so be buying this book…as much as these true life books make me feel sad & even cry I think it’s important to be able to read what used to happen back in time-I can’t believe these were still going on in 1992-I would of been about 17 and never knew either..I have many of these sort of books downloaded on my kindle, it was after a conversation with my hubby’s grandad who’s nearly 93 that made me feel the need to find these types of books and ones back even further…I won’t read it for a while but I’ll have it there all ready! Ty for review xx

    • Jo

      11th September 2016 at 3:50 pm

      Thank you Kelly! It was a hard, shocking read and I couldn’t believe this treatment was going on in the 1990s! I do know however that many of the women featured in this book and who endured this ordeal turned their life around and went on to have families and a happy life XX

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