The Killeen

Mary Leland, Author Atheneum Books $12.95 (135p) ISBN 978-0-689-11826-5
In a haunting evocation of the Irish ethos as it may have been in the 1930s, Cork resident Leland weaves a seamless tale of poignant beauty. Through the shadowed lives of three people we begin to understand their need to leave home. Margaret is an innocent farm girl who comes as a domestic to a well-tended Cork City convent, where the tutelage of an aged nun expands her horizons. When she becomes pregnant by the convent gardener, who is actually a rebel on the run, she is handed over to a ""safe,'' upper-class home. The mistress of the house, herself the widow of a Republican hero-martyr, raising her own son, grapples with ambivalent feelings as she advises Margaret. The story ends in the hamlet where it begins. About to marry and live in England, Margaret sends her son back to the farm. It is there that the baby dies in terrible circumstances and is buried in the killeen, a graveyard for unbaptized babies. Many strands of Irishnessthe rigor of the Church, the confusion of politics and the helplessness of the poorare blended with delicacy and insight in this enchanting novel. (August)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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