Touchstone, Jun 2004, 23.00, 289 pp.
Up until 1907, Dierdre O'Coigligh lived on the impoverish Great Blasket Island off the Irish Coast until she was fourteen when her parents died. She feared the sea and never crossed it until her grandmother left her with no choice. The teen orphan was dumped at the Enfant de Marie Convent on the mainland because her grandmother insisted that she was too old to raise a young lass.
At the Convent, Dierdre meets wealthy novice Bairbre O'Breen, a widowed mother who is a key benefactor. Through Mrs. O'Breen, Deirdre meets Bairbre's brother Manus, an architecture student. He falls in love with Dierdre-and his mother feels she is acceptable as a daughter-in-law. Instead of becoming a nun, seventeen years old Deirdre agrees to marry Manus. After the ceremony, they move to a house in Dublin that his mother furnished. They have two delightful daughters, but Mrs. O'Breen demands a grandson who will be a priest regardless of how the lad or his parents feel because the matriarch has secret scandals that she feels need heavenly intervention to remedy.
THE MARRIAGE BED is a look at Ireland in the years just prior to World War One. The story line provides the reader with a glimpse at middle class life and the influence of family on members.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner