Sidharta Books & Print

Sidharta Books & Print

Book Publishers

For those who have experienced the tragic consequences of divorce or maternal rejection, it is a powerful book

Mary-Clare Meney

Mary-Clare Meney
National Association of Catholic Families Executive and mother of nine.

?DANDELION IN THE WIND? by Geraldine Fennel begins with the story of the Ryan family in Liverpool during the depression, with rumblings of WWII in the wind. It follows the family line of Irish immigrants Brigid and Patrick Ryan and their descendants, and in particular, their grandchild - Margaret O?Hare.

Margaret?s life from birth is marked with tragedy and sadness: this stems from her mother?s lack of affection for her, and apparent disdain for the constraints of motherhood; her parents divorce after the birth of Margaret?s sister, and the years of self-blame for the complete loss of contact with her father.

During her developing years her uncle, Fr. John Ryan, and her grandmother, Brigid, provided for her a certain level of stability through their kindness, and by encouraging Margaret to develop a love of the Catholic faith ? in all its richness and beauty.

Her childhood, nonetheless, is marked with loneliness and social struggle, and it appears that her relationship with her mother is never properly grounded - even as she endures her mother?s illness and death. Only at the end is she truly able to establish a relationship with her sister.

Margaret?s life is somewhat sad: the reader is constantly given the impression that her mother never really understood or loved her daughter. This is illustrated through her repression of Margaret?s love of literature and the arts and through her failure to understand Margaret?s desire for happiness in her forthcoming marriage.

Yet the marriage eventuated in her darkest years: a disconnected relationship with her three daughters, her husband?s long-term infidelity during their marriage, and finally, her attempted suicide.

Written in an unusual, yet simple style, the author adeptly defines the main character ? Margaret. What starts as a troubled child, who feels she can relate to very few in life, develops into the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, many years later. It gives the reader great insight into the awful nature and consequences of mental illness!

Whether the perceived antagonism of Margaret?s mother towards her daughter is real or not, one still feels Margaret?s pain, pities her inadequacies, admires her courage at times, and longs for her release from this terrible darkness.

For those who have experienced the tragic consequences of divorce or maternal rejection, it is a powerful book ? also for those who need to be convinced of the reality of such consequences for others. It was a book I could not put down!

Yet it raises many questions for readers of the Catholic faith: though Margaret prays intensely during the early years of her marriage (the rosary), she and Matthew do not appear to live a strong sacramental life. Certainly they attend Sunday Mass together but there is no evidence of the great ?healing Sacrament? ? Confession ? or that they ever pray together. Through such questions, one wonders whether Margaret?s faith is perhaps largely cultural, rather than integral, or ?of the heart?. But it was uplifting to read that, in the end she begins the healing process and realizes the guiding hand of our merciful God in her life.