Anne Bonny #Spotlight Mary Wood & #GuestPost Maggie Mason @Authormary #TheWrongedDaughter & #SandgroniansTrilogy #Blackpool

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The Wronged Daughter by Mary Wood
Review To Follow
Synopsis ~

Perfect for winter nights, The Wronged Daughter by Mary Wood is an emotional and moving novel that reunites old friends and heals old wounds.

Mags has never forgotten the friendship she forged with Flora and Ella, two fellow nurses she served with at the beginning of World War I. Haunted by what she experienced during that time, she fears a reunion with her friends would bring back the horror she’s tried so desperately to suppress.

Now, with her wedding on the horizon, this should be a joyful time for Mags. But the sudden loss of her mother and the constant doubt she harbours surrounding her fiancé, Harold, are marring her happiness.

Mags throws herself into running the family mill, but she’s dealt another aching blow by a betrayal that leaves her reeling. Finding the strength the war had taken from her, she fights back, not realizing the consequences and devastating outcome awaiting her.

Can she pick up the pieces of her life and begin anew?

Extract ~

Chapter One

Mags held on to the back of the chair and stared across at the doctor. What he was saying didn’t seem possible. Not my dear mother? No. Mother has always been strong. ‘I’m sorry, but there’s only tender loving care that can be given, to ease her passing. I can arrange for a nurse to come and stay. She will administer oxygen, when needed, and the medication that I shall prescribe. But I’m afraid Belinda’s weak heart is rapidly failing her.’

Weak heart? When did Mother ever have a weak heart? As Mags watched her father shake the doctor’s hand, the thought rushed through her that he had changed, too. His back was no longer ramrod-straight, and his hair, which had been greying at the temples, was now almost white. Why hadn’t she ever noticed how heavily he leaned on his stick? Suddenly the part of her world that had always felt safe was crumbling. Life here in her beloved Blackburn was lived at a slow pace, even if for the most part she was kept busy running the mill. Always she was surrounded by familiar things, and by people she’d grown up with. Now a big part of that – her family life – was being threatened.

‘Margaret, the doctor is leaving. Where are your manners?’ ‘No, Herbert, don’t admonish her. Margaret has had a shock. You should have told her about her mother’s condition. I counselled both you and Belinda, many times over the years, to do so. I’m sorry, Margaret. I should have insisted that you were told and were therefore prepared for the fact that what is happening now has always been inevitable. Your mother has had a heart condition for a long time. It has been like an unexploded bomb. Anything could have triggered it to fail – and at any time. I’m sorry, truly sorry, but she only has days left to live.’

Mags shook her head. This wasn’t happening. How could she have missed the signs? Yes, Mother was frequently breathless, and her skin and lips often had a blue tinge, but she had said it was an asthmatic condition and was under control. ‘Sit down, Margaret. Let yourself absorb this terrible news. Are you feeling unwell yourself? You seem to have lost a lot of weight, when you could ill afford to lose any.’ Backing into the chair behind her, Mags tried to control the shaking of her limbs. ‘You’ve never spoken of the horrors you must have witnessed in Belgium. I thought you had recovered from them, but something has knocked you back. At the winter ball, with your nice young man by your side – Harold, that’s his name, isn’t it?’ Mags nodded. ‘You seemed your old self. But since returning from your stay at his home, I have seen a change in you each time I have visited your mother.’

Something had indeed knocked Mags back. Something that gave her nightmares. Memories flooded her mind: the war, meeting and forming a strong friendship with the lovely Flora and Ella as they set out, three young girls full of courage and yet needing each other’s support. Then learning how Flora was rejected by her family, and Ella abandoned by hers. And seeing Flora’s happiness as her brother Harold had begun to show her a little affection, and how this had led to Mags meeting Harold herself, and being swept off her feet by him. But then . . . the awful events that led to the image that haunted Mags – seeing Harold and Flora’s mother sprawled on the floor, her head smashed on the fender . . .

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Blackpool’s Angel by Maggie Mason
Review To Follow
Synopsis ~

Blackpool, 1893

Tilly has come a long way from the run-down tenements in which she grew up. She has a small but comfortable home, a loving, handsome husband, two beautiful little’uns – Babs and Beth – and she earns herself a little money weaving wicker baskets. Life is good.

Until the day Tilly returns home to find a policeman standing on her doorstep. Her Arthur won’t be coming home tonight – nor any night – having fallen to his death whilst working on Blackpool tower. Suddenly Tilly is her daughters’ sole protector, and she’s never felt more alone.

With the threat of destitution nipping at their heels, Tilly struggles to make ends meet and keep a roof over her girls’ heads. In a town run by men Tilly has to ask herself what she’s willing to do to keep her family together and safe – and will it be enough?

My Blackpool ~ A Guest Post by Mary Wood/Maggie Mason ~

My Blackpool

I don’t think that many people won’t know that Blackpool is situated in the North West of Great Britain and nestles on the coastline of The Irish Sea. Or not know that it is billed as a fun loving resort to visit with Kiss-Me-Quick hats, Blackpool Rock, The famous Blackpool Tower, and the beautiful Blackpool Illuminations – switched on by a celebrity on 1st September and shining brightly until 5th November every year.

But, there is more to Blackpool. There is a rich history of starting out as a health resort in the mid to late 1800’s, visited by the rich who sought to ‘take the waters’ and then gradually becoming the must-go-to holiday resort for the masses in the days of each county having their own allocated holiday fortnight. So droves would be in the town from places ranging from Manchester to Scotland – each having their own particular week.

And what if I tell you the little known fact that Blackpool was run by gangsters who rivalled the Kray twins during the 30’s to 50’s and beyond. One gang even seeing off the Krays when they sought to take over. Yes, it is true, from black marketeers, to ruling by force, extortion and running drugs, Blackpool has seen it all and can rival Peaky Blinders any day.

The war years for Blackpool were good years. While the country was on its knees, Blackpool thrived. Hundreds of service men and women trained on its shores and it boasted two airfields, one at Squires Gate and one on the site that is now Blackpool Zoo. Besides housing Hawker Sidley Aviation Factory making Lancaster Bombers. This alone, without all the presence of the troops should have made it a target for Hitlers bombers, but no. Blackpool experienced only two bombs dropping on its town – one directed at North Station, causing the deaths of twelve people and one which was thought to be in error, or an off-load before returning to Germany. The second didn’t cause any fatalities. And so, with all the service men and with people still flocking there to get a respite from all they were going through at home, there was quite a boom time for hotel and guesthouses, pubs, theatres and amusements. Why such a good war? Well, the story goes that Hitler had Blackpool in mind to be the playground for his officers, and didn’t want it spoiling. . . Imagine? What would Blackpool have looked like today if Germany – with a Nazi regime ruling, had won? (If the moderate government they have now, well, maybe things would be better? who knows?)

And so, you can see the wealth of material I have to set my stories amongst – besides the glitz and glamour and the tack, there is a golden heart that beats among the Blackpool people – known as Sandgronians (have to have been born here to earn the tittle and can be spelt in three different ways – Sandgownians and Sundgrown-uns, most prefer the latter, but I chose to use the given version for the tittle of my trilogy) Or Blackpudlians (for this title you just need to reside here for a number of years)

When I first moved here in the early eighties, I found the people friendly and outgoing, always ready to help – a real community spirit. Now of course, though this still prevails in the older estates of the town, like all large towns, we have a rich diversity of people and a transient population. Some come to settle, some see the pavements paved with gold, and then are disillusioned and find it a lonely place for them as when the initial fun subsides and reality sets in, it is just like any other town – welcoming, yes, glitzy, yes, but to make your life here and succeed in its main industry – the leisure industry, you have to work hard and long, long hours. There is no gold to sweep up off the pavements.

But for all that, don’t give Blackpool a miss. Put a visit here on your bucket list – it is cheap, cheerful and fun – all three in abundance, with something for everyone. Make it a let-your-hair down visit. Find the kid inside you. Ride the rides at the Pleasure Beach. Walk the Golden Mile, and shoot targets for a prize, knock coconuts off for a cuddly toy, buy the silly hat, and the costume that makes you look as though you have a bare bottom, play bingo, feed the slot machines, eat the candy – oh, and the delicious fish and chips. Visit the shows, the bars, the nightclubs, and spend a half day in our amazing Blackpool Tower, and if you can come during the illuminations, you will truly delight in The Greatest Show on Earth. Above all, be happy – Blackpool is about happiness.

For my Blackpool books I have drawn from the rock-making industry – BLACKPOOL LASS and from the fact that we had many evacuees here during the war – BLACKPOOL’S DAUGHTER. And now, in my new trilogy, THE SANDGRONIAN TRILOGY – the first book being BLACKPOOL’S ANGEL, from the building of the tower, and the gypsy population who started the pleasure beach, and those from its people, who went to war, as we had many heroes, And yes, from the heart-beat of the people who made Blackpool in its beginnings. Hard-working people, who lived hard lives.

My next trilogy will be based in our tradition of a hundred years of biscuit manufacturing. It will have the overall title of THE BISCUIT FACTORY GIRLS and each book will follow the lives of three friends who you will meet. This is planned for late 2020 – early and late 2021.

Maggie, is as busy as ever, and I hope you enjoy her Blackpool Books.

What’s next for Mary Wood/Maggie Mason ~

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Blackpool Sisters By Maggie Mason
Review To Follow
Synopsis ~

1902

Babs and Beth are identical in looks, but very different by nature. Kidnapped by gypsies a decade ago as young girls, Beth has accepted their plight, but Babs has always yearned for their real mother, Tilly, and their beloved hometown of Blackpool.

Convinced the best thing for them is to be reunited with Tilly, Babs tries to persuade Beth to escape. But Beth is too afraid, and Babs knows if she wants to find their mother, she’ll have to do it alone.

1914

Babs’ life has been blighted by misfortune since the night she walked away from her sister, but at last she found peace and purpose as a nurse. She’s never given up hope of finding her family, but now the war is sending her to France, away from them. Or so she believes.

As the Great War rips families apart, is it possible that Babs and Beth will be reunited with each other, and their mother, at last?
*coming 5th December 2019 in Hardback and Ebook*

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Mary Wood/Maggie Mason
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Spotlight The Ten Thousand Doors Of January by @AlixEHarrow #NewRelease #Fantasy @orbitbooks #TenThousandDoors

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The Ten Thousand Doors Of January by Alix E. Harrow
Currently Reading

Synopsis ~

EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

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Alix E. Harrow
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Anne Bonny #NonFiction #BookReview Betrayal – The crisis In The Catholic Church 5* #Spotlight #BostonGlobe

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Betrayal – The crisis In The Catholic Church by The investigative staff of the Boston Globe
My own copy
Synopsis:

THE BOOK WHICH INSPIRED SPOTLIGHT, 2016 WINNER OF THE BEST PICTURE OSCAR AND THE BEST SCREENPLAY OSCAR

This is the true story of how a small group of courageous journalists uncovered child abuse on a vast scale – and held the Catholic Church to account. Betrayal is a ground-breaking work of investigative journalism, now brought brilliantly to life on the screen in the major new movie Spotlight.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

On 31 January 2002, the Boston Globe published a report that sent shockwaves around the world. Their findings, based on a six-month campaign by the ‘Spotlight’ investigative team, showed that hundreds of children in Boston had been abused by Catholic priests, and that this horrific pattern of behaviour had been known – and ignored – by the Catholic Church. Instead of protecting the community it was meant to serve, the Church exploited its powerful influence to protect itself from scandal – and innocent children paid the price.

This is the story from beginning to end: the predatory men who exploited the vulnerable, the cabal of senior Church officials who covered up their crimes, the ‘hush money’ used to buy the victims’ silence, the survivors who found the strength to tell their story, and the Catholics across the world who were left shocked, angry, and betrayed. This is the story, too, of how they took power back, confronted their Church and called for sweeping change.

Updated for the release of the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, this is a devastating and important exposure of the abuse of power at the highest levels in society.

My Review:

I originally bought this book for myself and my brother. My little brother is a (soon to be) third year journalism student. I was keen to understand, what goes on behind the scenes in investigative journalism. I had also already previously seen the Hollywood movie Spotlight. I was looking for the extra depth that could have been missed in a movie adaption.
What I found within the pages of this book, shook me to the core.

The investigation began at the Boston Globe under editor Walter V Robinson. The primary reporters were Matt Carroll, Sacha Pfeiffer and Michael Rezendes. Although many more reporters would later join the cause. The original investigation was to look into the actions of Rev John J Geoghan’s crimes.
Was this a one-off or a pattern of behaviour?

What the team uncovered was multiple claims, some financially settled. They also uncovered records either missing or legally sealed.
They began by attempting to unseal Geogahn’s papers.

‘The documents proved that the Archdiocese had known of Geoghan’s abuse of children for generations’

Yes, It took me a moment to digest that word too, GENERATIONS! Not days, weeks or months which would also be unforgivable, but generations.
The Globe ran a piece, which covered 70 priests that can been accused and had financially settled cases.

‘The abuse was widespread and had gone unchecked for decades’

A further four reporters were added to the team Stephen Kurkjian, Thomas Farragher, Kevin Cullen and regional reporter Michael Paulson. This was due to the huge-scale of the investigation and pattern of systemic abuse.

The book covers various angles of the investigation.
The origins and its causes.
The behaviour of abusive priests.
Impact on victims.
Role of key figures.
How the Catholic church might change as a result.

It is clear to see the Globe intended to get to the bottom of these cases and fully involve victims in the process of the journey. With 176 priests accused across the USA alone in just the first four months of expose in 2002. The team were going to have their work cut out. They also faced opposition from the church and had to bear in mind that of Boston’s 3.8 million population, 2 million identify as catholic. It would be a scandal that would surely rock Boston. Eventually it was a scandal, that rocked the entire Catholic faith across the world.

‘Nowhere else was the impact of the scandal more deeply felt. And nowhere else was the erosion of deference traditionally shown the church more dramatic’

The churches initial reaction of ‘damage limitation’ actively put abusers back into circulation. Allowing them to move freely around prominent positions within the community and allowing them so amass victims on a monumental scale.
Early on, the expose led to resignations in France, Wales, Poland and Ireland.

Geoghan himself at this point was known to have nearly 200 victims. So nonchalant, he would openly describe how he picked his victims. He began by targeting predominantly boys from poverty and single parent homes. He would appear to offer the mother ‘help’ by taking the young boys out for ice-cream or bathing them before bed. This gave him opportunity to abuse. The cover-up would involve politicians, police, prosecutors and judges. With the statute of limitations also being a hinder to the pursuit of justice.

‘If there are any heroes in this squalid tale, they are the victims, who found their voice, who found their courage, after years of suffering in silence and isolation, to step into the light and say, as one did “This happened to me, and this is wrong”‘

The book does detail individual stories from survivors of the abuse. We hear from one of the mother’s who’s four sons were abused. Hearing her repeat their admissions to her, was heart breaking reading. Even through the pages of a novel, reading many years after the scandal broke. The pain is raw and real, every single word of it.

If/when the mother’s found the courage to speak out about the abuse. Whether it be approaching other priests or bishops. The blame was often shifted to them, they were openly reminded that such accusations could ruin the priests career. This enabled the priests to hide behind their roman collars and evade justice.

‘Do you realise what you’re taking from him?’ – Bishop Thomas to Maryetta Dussourd (mother of victims)

The victim blaming, and family shaming continued in multiple cases. Meanwhile, sensing his future maybe bleak, Geoghan began to protect his own assets. Signing over properties worth millions of dollars, for just a few dollars to his sister.
Geoghan would also go one further, and play the victim himself. Insisting his actions made him ill, not a criminal.
Geoghan was beyond shame and accountability.

‘Shame, embarrassment, and sometimes, warnings by their abusers kept many victims from disclosing the abuse. Others confided in family members who found it difficult to believe them’

The house of affirmation in Massachusetts, was a facility for sexually abusive priests. It was ran by Rev Thomas Kane. But priests received little in the form of psychoanalyse and treatment. What the investigation uncovered was that the ‘treatment centres’ enabled priests to just hide in luxury compared to the jail cells they should have faced.

As the book details various decades and multiple cases, it is hard to review and summarise. But in 1984 the catholic church paid out $4.2 million to nine of Father Gauther’s victims. One victim was so viciously raped he was hospitalised. Gauther would eventually face criminal charges, unlike so many others. He was sentenced to 20yrs, served 10yrs and upon release abused another boy.

One thing that is clear throughout the book, is that instead of tackling the root cause of the issue and seeking justice. The church was content to continue to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars as financial settlements. Whilst allowing abusers to continue in posts, with access to more victims.
What struck me about this, wasn’t the victim’s right to financial compensation. That I fully agree with.
But the arrogance of the church to utilise funds intended for charity etc, to cover-up abuse and legally tie the hands/voices of the accuser. As each settlement required a non-disclosure signature.
The priests continued to abuse, the church continued to pay. With zero regard for the mental/emotional impact on the victims and future victims.
The pay-outs would occur before legal suits were filed, meaning no public record. They also contained gag-order’s or the payments must be returned.

In one particular case, Father Porter a serial child abuser of over 100+ victims over 14yrs. Was caught in the physical act by two fellow reverends; as two victims confirmed.
Yet no action was ever taken.

‘In the past 15yrs 1500 American priests faced allegations of sexual abuse’

In the section entitled Predators, the investigation breaks down the various methods established and utilised by different priests. Rev Paul R Shanley was a popular priest that challenged church teachings on homosexuality. He openly embraced ostracised members of the community. He was known as the ‘street priest’ the cool ‘hippie priest’. His ‘therapy’ sessions often involved molestation and rape. When confronted with the victim’s accusations. He would hide behind the tired old excuse that ‘the child is often the seducer’. Shanley would go on to teach teens how to inject drugs, possibly just to enable further abuse. Shanley would go on to evade justice until he was 71yrs old.

I found various chapters difficult to read. Especially the nonchalant attitudes of the priests. Which equally led me to question the severity of the impact upon victims. In the chapter entitled The Victims, you hear their stories of anger, denial, rage, shame, loss of faith, guilt and self-doubt.

‘He took everything. He took my innocence. He took my spirituality, he took my purity’
Thomas J Lambert (victim)

For victim Patricia Dolan the abuse dominated her entire adult life. Patrick McSorley (Geoghan’s victim) fully aware of what made him an easy target for abuse (alcoholic father’s suicide) would go on to be extremely protective of his own children. Armand Landy (86yrs old) can still recall the abuse suffered at just 12yrs old in 1927. One victim would shoot their abuser and there were multiple suicides.
The pain of abuse never left the victims.

The explosion of the scandal would lead to 176 priests over 28 states of the USA to resign or be removed from their post. In just 20yrs the scandal had cost the church $1.3 Billion.

‘What they were protecting was their notion that the church is a perfect society’

The investigation details how the public outrage at the scandal, broke down barriers and centuries of the church’s deference in just mere weeks. Whilst some legal professionals were prepared to give the church the benefit of the doubt. Others were not; and Judge Constance M Sweeney ordered the release of ten thousand pages of documents, declaring them public record.
The public were outraged at the church’s failure to see the children as victims of despicable crimes.

‘We throw this word ‘abuse’ around, and it’s nice, inoffensive word.
They were raping children. Where’s the indignation? Where’s the moral outrage?’
The investigation slowly began to force change in the system. Force the church to face up to its own hypocrisy.

‘Maybe to them, the victims are nameless and faceless. The victims are real to me’
Jeanine Pirro – DA Westchester county

The hypocrisy of the church is further explored, when detailing the case of a 72yr old nun fired and ostracised for performing a baptism. The $50 million over 25yrs spent on ‘treatment’ for abusive priests.
The title of this novel ‘Catholicism in crisis’ couldn’t be more apt.

‘We need more women. The power, and male dominance, and the secrecy are how this whole thing started’

Bonnie Ciambotti – Eucharistic minister.
There is a documents section, at the back of the book. Which enables you to view the previously sealed court papers.
This is a tough read, at times brutal. But unless we read it, digest the information and learn, how do we not continue to make the same mistakes? 5*

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