Rhinelander District Library

Monday  9am – 7pm
Tues-Thurs  9am – 6pm
Friday  9am – 5pm
Saturday 9am – 1pm

Rhinelander District Library
106 N. Stevens Street
Rhinelander, WI 54501

Phone(715) 365-1070
Fax (715) 365-1076



Joan and her husband live in comfort, along with their daughter Carmel. She has been keeping a secret for 30 years from everyone she knows, even her daughter. Both Joan and Carmel work at the business and Martin’s mother lives with them. The mother is one nasty piece of work and Joan has just about had enough. How much can one woman take from another woman? Joan is at her wit’s end.Prior to her marriage, Joan lives with her sister Teresa and their father. They come from a family of five and when their mother dies in childbirth, the younger siblings are removed from the home. After this happens, the father starts drinking heavily, not being able to care for the family, as soon as they can the girls get jobs just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.While working at the Candy Factory, she meets and falls in love with a delivery boy, unbeknownst to her, he is the heir to the family business, just doing deliveries between his schooling and breaks. They start dating, fall in love, and then Joan gets pregnant.Martin has her come to England and live and work in a boarding house with a very nice lady who helps Joan all she can.Joan is mistaken about the notion that they will get married and she will have a nice little family. Not happening as Martin is insisting that she give the baby up for adoption. She is horrified by the notion of giving her baby away but Martin can not see reason. “What will people think?” In the 60s it was taboo to get pregnant if unmarried. Joan capitulates and gives up her baby. She is absolutely heartbroken for 30 years and her relationship with Martin is strained almost to the breaking point. She is beginning to hate her mother-in-law and despises Martin for not standing up to her.A letter arrives from the daughter she gave up for adoption wanting a favor from Joan. This favor is very important to Emma and her family. It could mean life and death. Joan talks to Martin about it but he forbids her from seeing the daughter, again “What will people think?” Joan has had enough at this time, tells Carmel about her past life, and decides with Carmel’s help to help Emma.Written in such a compassionate way and depicts how life was for unmarried pregnant women in the 1960s. I was rooting for Joan this whole time, hoping that she would finally stand up to Martin and tell him to go fly a kite! She needs to be able to make amends for her oldest daughter.I love any book that takes place in Ireland and a story of an unwed, pregnant woman in Ireland really did have dire consequences for the mother and child. Most of the women were sent to live in what was called the Magdalene Laundries. That did not happen in Joan’s case but she still lived with the guilt of what they had done.This book I thought was very inspiring, what a person will go through and still persevere!