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Twenty seven years after she adopted her baby daughter in Ireland, Lena Molloy receives a mysterious call from Sister Monica, the nun who set up the adoption. She claims that she wants to merely tie up loose ends before she retires, but Lena feels both anxious and frightened after the call. Against her husband's wishes, and accompanied by her best friend, Alma -- who is nursing a broken heart -- Lena travels to the west of Ireland on a secret mission to trace the birth parents of her daughter, Mary, an up-and-coming star in the world of opera.
At first the trail seems to have gone cold. Saint Joseph's home for unmarried mothers has become an old people's home, and Sister Monica is dismissive and unforthcoming. Then a chance meeting sets Lena on a journey through Ireland and into the past, taking her through many twists and turns to an outcome she could never have anticipated.
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Roisin McAuley is the author of Singing Bird. She joined the BBC in Northern Ireland as a newsreader and announcer, and then became a reporter for the BBC. She has also produced and directed documentaries for British television and programs for BBC Radio. She lives in England.From Publishers Weekly:
A woman's search for her adopted daughter's birth mother leads to dramatic discoveries in McAuley's poised debut. An adopted child herself, Lena Malloy wondered about her own birth mother, but never learned who she was. A surprise check-in phone call from Sister Monica, "the nun who gave me Mary," leads Lena to wonder about Mary's biological parents—and about why the nun has called from Ireland after almost 30 years of silence. Lena's husband, Jack, discourages her curiosity, but Lena believes that Mary, a rising opera singer, will someday want to know the provenance of her magnificent voice. "You have no idea what it feels like not to know your origins. It has nothing to do with ingratitude, or selfishness," Lena thinks. "This is about feeling complete." With her best friend, Alma, Lena sets out for Dublin to see Mary in concert and do a little sleuthing. She faces off with a sour Sister Monica, finds an ally in a woman from the Natural Parents' Internetwork office and travels great distances to meet potential biological mothers. As Lena, a Catholic, works her way toward the truth, she's also forced to compromise her morals, and the secret she uncovers nearly destroys her family. McAuley deftly captures Lena's unwavering drive while building suspense, though coincidences and surprises—including the one about Mary's biological father—may strain credibility.
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