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Singing Bird (P.S. Series)

Singing Bird (P.S. Series)

4.1 41
by Roisin McAuley

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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 --


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.

Editorial Reviews

“[An] engaging debut novel.”
Liverpool Daily Echo
“A beautiful story by a gifted author.”
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. Agent, Charlie Viney. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Debut about a woman who searches for her adopted daughter's birth parents, then makes an earnest attempt to grapple with issues of sin and forgiveness, largely within the context of Catholicism. Narrator Lena, a middle-aged, happily conventional English woman whose active practice of Catholicism is a given, has been married to handsome, successful businessman Jack for years. Their adopted daughter, Mary, 27, is now a rising international opera singer. Out of the blue, Lena receives a phone call from Sister Monica, the nun who arranged for them to adopt Mary as an infant in Ireland and who now says she is checking on her babies as she prepares to retire. The call piques Lena's curiosity. Adopted herself, she regrets she was unable to trace her own birth parents after her adopted mother's death. With Jack away on a business trip and Mary about to perform in Dublin, Lena decides to take a week's vacation in Ireland with her agnostic, mildly bohemian friend Alma before attending Mary's concert. She doesn't tell Jack or Mary that, as a kind of gift to Mary, she's thinking of looking more deeply into Mary's parentage. While Alma begins a romance with a kindly widower staying at their inn, Lena shifts her search into high gear, helped by the happy coincidence (one of too many) that the innkeeper's wife is a volunteer at the Natural Parents' Internetwork office. Gathering clues, Lena begins to suspect that Sister Monica's brother, the well-known Singing Priest, Father Frank, may be Mary's father, the reason for the nun's unusual interest. Lena's moral code, already challenged by her own secrecy, faces further tests when she realizes that Mary is having a highly publicized affair with a marriedactor and then learns that Jack, not Father Frank, is Mary's father. Can she forgive him?McAuley, a British broadcast journalist, raises potentially interesting questions, but her answers come too easily to her manufactured and bland characters. Agent: Charlie Viney/Mulcahy & Viney

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
P.S. Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

Singing Bird

By McAuley, Roisin

William Morrow & Company

ISBN: 0060737883

Chapter One

We were drinking champagne in the kitchen when the nun telephoned. I rerun the moment. What if I hadn't decided to have a party? What if we'd simply locked up and gone elsewhere for a drink? Or if the house move had been a week earlier? Would my life have continued in the safe, familiar pattern?

Maybe. But she was a determined woman. She would have tracked down the new address and telephone number. We were only moving to the other side of the Thames. We are in the telephone book.

Or she would have left a message. And I would have replied. Because my latent curiosity only wanted an excuse. I would have taken the same path into the past eventually. She is not to blame.

I go back in my mind to the day of the call. It was our second last day in the old house. I got up early and made a lamb casserole. At eight o'clock I brought Jack a cup of coffee and drew back the curtains in the bedroom.

'The wind blew the runner beans down. They look all ragged and forlorn.'

'Summer always ends with a storm'; he said. 'We're halfway through September, Lena.'

He bent his blond head over the cup and inhaled, before drinking.

'You spoil me,' he said.

'I like spoiling you.'

'Do you mind me going away?'

A blackbird flew up from the wreckage of the beans and settled on the garden wall.

I turned and smiled at him. 'Everything's under control.'

I had plotted the move on aspreadsheet, and pinned it up in the hall. After Jack left for the office, Alma and two of my neighbours arrived to help me pack up. We moved methodically from room to room, sorting, packing, and tying colour-coded labels to furniture and boxes.

Just before five o'clock, I tied a pink label to a box of cookery books. I took a bottle of champagne from the fridge and called out, 'That's the last one. Time to celebrate!'

It was Alma's birthday. I had made her a cake. It sat on the breakfast bar dividing the living space from the kitchen. A Victoria sponge. Cream and home-made raspberry jam in the middle. Soft white icing on top. Pink miniature candles matched the labels dotted around the room.

'How about some music,' Alma said. 'Some opera? Our favourite singer, perhaps?'

Rosemary and Janet clapped. I bowed to acknowledge the tribute to my daughter as I slipped Mary Molloy Sings Mozart and Rossini into the CD player. It was her first recording, and is still my favourite.

Mary's voice filled the empty space and floated up to the attics.

'Tell me fair ladies, what ails my heart?'

'Yonder cupid, is this his dart?'

Her entire personality is contained in that sparkling combination of music and words. Delight and wonder, perfectly conveyed. We had rolled up the rugs, leaving parquet and bare boards. There was nothing to deaden the sound.

'Yonder Cupid, is this his dart?' Mary reprised.

'It's like being inside a giant speaker,' Alma said.

We sat at the long oak table drinking champagne, drunk on the music. The sky cleared. Sunshine splashed into the room. Mary began the Cavatina from The Barber of Seville. I bathed in the afterglow of a job well done.

'Una voce poco fa,
Qu'nel cor m'risuono,'

I looked at the bright sky and thought of Mary on her way from Stuttgart to Heathrow. In the innocent minutes before the telephone rang, I sat in the September sunlight in a house I loved, listening to my daughter singing, in the company of friends, utterly content.

'Sono obbediente, dolce, amorosa;'

Alma said, 'Is that the telephone?'

' ... mi fo guidar.'

'Mary?' said Janet.

'She should be in the air by now. Unless her plane is late.'

Alma held open the glass door into the hall, waving me through with a flourish of her right hand. I waltzed past her, made a mock curtsy, and lifted the phone off the hook, still slightly unbalanced.

'Mrs Molloy? Mrs Lena Molloy?'

It wasn't Mary. I steadied myself against the banisters and signalled to Alma to turn down the music ... Continues...

Excerpted from Singing Bird by McAuley, Roisin Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

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.

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Singing Bird (P.S. Series) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book! It takes you to Ireland, such descriptive writing you feel like uou are there. Will keep you engaged from the beginning to the end as a mother looks for the birth parents of her daughter, who is now 26. This includes mystery, romance and a surprise ending!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books where you know something good is coming at the end. Something very unexpected -- if not for the reader, then for the character(s) involved. As I read it, I had very brief flashes of what was to come, but not on a conscious level. When all was revealed, I thought 'You know, I wondered about him . . .' This author does a fabulous job of keeping you pointed in a direction that allows you to be surprised (and terribly hurt for Lena!) at the end. I read this in one day. It is a very engaging, well-written story. I hope Roisin writes more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed this Free Friday selection fom B&N. A short 241 page story of adoption and love. A wonderful woman, wife, mother, daughter and friend embarks on a journey with results she had not anticipated. I think good lessons. Some heartache, but a feel good story overall.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! Thinking back, I probably should have guessed the ending, but the story kept me so enthralled I just got completely caught up in the reading of it. Will definitely consider more books by this author.
Anonymous 4 months ago
As a birth mother myself I found this book comforting and poignant. The story was well-drawn with interesting twists. I felt the author may have had personal experience or was close to one involved in such an experience. The story felt believable.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Interesting story with a few twist and turns. Story of women's friendship, live and search for family.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I felt such a strong emotion when reading this book. The author does such a courageous story, leting his mind flow through the wind. This book has taught me valueable lessons, on which some can conclude in looking through the world through a diffrent perspective. This was a life chaning book.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I love a good story and this one is a keeper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This one has it all. All in all a good read...
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down. Good twist at the end.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story, sad but good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Novels about adoption and family search have always intrigued me, and this story does not disappoint. The plotline is fresh and fast-moving, the characters are likable and genuine, and the author never resorts to trite or overused premises. It was a refreshing read, even though it dealt with serious issues. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe because I am adopted, or maybe because I love music, or maybe just because it is a great story, I loved this book. An easy smooth read, with people it is easy to cate about, I didn't see the twist coming and the last two pages were perfect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was impressed, it is well written, at first I didn't want to read it, then you slowly get pulled in. Then your utterly intrigued, before you know it there is slight confusion, then thoughts swirl about the plot and story line, then your blown away. Happy reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this story!!! Read it in a day. I would definitely recommend this story .
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