The Whipping Club

The Whipping Club

4.3 12
by Deborah Henry

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The Whipping Club explores the sacrificial secrets we keep to protect our loved ones and the impact that uncovered secrets have on marriage, family and society. Both a wrenching family drama and a harrowing suspense story, it chronicles an interfaith couple's attempt in 1960's Ireland to save their son from corrupt institutions.

"A powerful saga of love and

…  See more details below


The Whipping Club explores the sacrificial secrets we keep to protect our loved ones and the impact that uncovered secrets have on marriage, family and society. Both a wrenching family drama and a harrowing suspense story, it chronicles an interfaith couple's attempt in 1960's Ireland to save their son from corrupt institutions.

"A powerful saga of love and survival." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1960s Ireland, Henry's deeply disturbing but riveting debut novel explores the far-reaching effects of a single decision. Rather than tell her Jewish fiancé of her pregnancy, 23-year-old Marian heeds the advice of her uncle, Father Brennan, and retreats to an abusive home for unwed mothers before finally relinquishing her baby boy to adoption. Though Marian and Ben marry and have a lively daughter, Joanna, Marian is consumed by guilt. Her tentative happiness is shattered when she learns that her son, declared a "mixed-blood" by the nuns at the mediating organization, was deemed unfit for adoption, and thus relegated to a brutal existence in the orphanage. Marian reveals her secret to Ben, and the couple decides to welcome Adrian into their home. The juxtaposition of the hardscrabble newcomer with the promise of Joanna allows Henry to graphically portray one family's struggle to reconcile the past and present, while simultaneously reflecting on the religious intolerance and societal ills of an Ireland in flux. (Feb.)

Product Details

T.S. Poetry Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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The Whipping Club 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
BeverlyW More than 1 year ago
I finished The Whipping Club nearly a month ago, but I get choked up right now just thinking about the book, unable to forget it. The characters are fictional, but I still see their faces, feel their pain and, most important, continue to be inspired by their courage. Henry’s writing, compassion and characters blew me away. As an advocate for divorce reform, I understand some of the unnecessary harm suffered by our nation’s children, including some of the many ways our society fails them. Deborah Henry, too, understands the way our society can fail its children and our families. Loss, love and redemption, Henry understands them all, translates them to the page, speaking from a place inside the deepest heart of a parent.
AuthorReviewerGeri More than 1 year ago
"A SACRIFICE FOR LOVE IN ONE WOMAN'S BRAVE CHALLENGE AGAINST SOCIETY!" Inspired to examine the territory of interfaith marriage, along with curiosity of her own Jewish-Irish heritage, Deborah Henry created an unforgettable and terrifying journey through the eyes of one family in this incredible story that will leave an aftermath, long after the book is closed. One woman, who is against all odds, confronts the truth to bring home her child in this powerfully-moving story, made for the Movie screen! Marian is a Catholic woman in love with Ben, who is a Jewish man. They get married, and have a daughter. Prior to their marriage, what dark secret did Marian hide from Ben, and why? How did Ben's parents react to his marriage to Marian? Where did Marian bring Adrian, and who told her that Adrian was being mistreated? I highly recommend this compelling novel to all literary fiction lovers, who enjoy historical stories that are chilling, intriguing, and inspiring. The author takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the life of one family in Ireland, set in the nineteen-sixties. A story of compassion, redemption, and authority gone mad. Did Adrian live in an orphanage, or an institution? Was he in prison for no crime, and was he suffering? Who was responsible for abuse and cruelty, did Adrian escape, and will the trauma ever be forgotten? Deborah Henry penned a story that so many can relate to, one that will make you smile, and cry. A suspenseful story of love, loss, and triumph! "THE WHIPPING CLUB" is as brilliant as THE MAGDALENE SISTERS, as shocking as SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN, and as heart-wrenching as THE GOD SQUAD.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book overall, glimpse into Catholic guilt in Ireland in the 60s. I'm glad I readit, but parts were depressing. Side note to the publisher: a ton of mistakes, sentences broken, they need to to do a better job of making an e-book. Almost embarrassed for them.
shanbritts More than 1 year ago
Having spent 12 years in a private catholic school system I could relate to the odd thinking and practices of the religion. Loved the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put the book down after I started reading it. Honestly one of the best books I have read all Summer. Found out about the book from Oprah's Magazine in her July Summer reading list. This book kept me engaged and constantly wanting to know what happened next with each turn of the page.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I thought the story itself was good but didn't like the constant flashbacks mixed in with the present. Too many times I had to re-read to figure out whether it was present or past. If this kind of writing doesn't bother you, then you'll probably enjoy. Also, didn't like the ending. Felt like it wasn't finished. You'll see what I mean!
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PeterJoseph More than 1 year ago
A magnificent period piece, its relevance is, sadly, timeless. To say I enjoyed The Whipping Club feels odd, but I did. It is a brutal tale, expertly crafted, that I'd recommend as reading to anyone needing to be reminded that blindly following societal, religious, and even family laws/rules/norms isn't always advisable. How often do we compartmentalize deep feelings of guilt, shame, and the knowing of wrongs in order to go about living what authority figures would have us believe is the righteous path? Then as now, I fear the answer is far too often. Much of this book paints the human condition darkly. It won't be an easy read for just anyone, nor should it be. What the story deals with would be easy to dismiss as the going-ons of a bygone era, and while I'm confident much progress has been made since the 1960s, for me, Henry put me at unease with what I am currently okay with. How much of what happens in the world, near and far, am I only pretending doesn't exist? Should you choose to give The Whipping Club a read, I suspect there will be times you absolutely hate the main characters for their inaction and seeming complacency. Then, like me, you may find a bit of yourself in each of them, and as things progress for the better perhaps we can finish the book having become more aware of where our own ideologies are flawed. I look forward to seeing what Henry puts her talents against next.
AnAvidReaderNJ More than 1 year ago
From the book: Deborah Henry's new historical novel, THE WHIPPING CLUB (T.S Poetry Press, March 2012, available in print and e-book formats) is a literary page-turner and a tale of redemption, set against the backdrop of violence and deeply entrenched prejudice in 1960s Ireland as told through the heartrending experience of one inter-faith family. In it, an Irish Catholic woman, Marian, in love with a Jewish journalist hides the birth of her out-of-wedlock child to save her future marriage. The child she has relinquished does not end up with an American family as promised. Instead, he is committed to a notorious Catholic orphanage where there is little hope for his survival. Tormented by feelings of remorse and guilt that have plagued her throughout her marriage to the boy's father, the woman must confront the truth and reveal her long-buried secret. While putting her marriage and family at risk, she determines to save her son and in so doing correct the terrible wrongs of her own past and challenge a system that chronically serves up children to abusive clergy. My review: This was a very interesting read for me, something that was completely outside of my comfort zone. I felt that the author did a very good job of developing her characters from the good Catholic mother Marian, the Jewish father Ben, sister Johanna and Adrian, the child that was given away. It was easy to relate to their personalities and behaviors. The story begins with Marian being rejected by Ben's mother and deciding to enter a "convent" to deal with the baby she felt was unwanted. As the story goes on, it's revealed that Ben knows more than he let on. Johanna, the "kept" child, begins to sense that there's something going on and gets involved when she overhears some conversations. Adrian has no clue that he has a family and it comes a surprise when they come to visit. Unfortunately this is not a happily ever after story and there are quite a few horrible scenarios spelled out. I thought the book was a bit long. It took 40 chapters (although some were really short) to get to the point of the title. I think the story could have been told in much less words. I related to the characters and enjoyed the development of the personalities. I did think this was something that could and probably did happen during the time period related to the book. Overall, I thought the book was well done and the story was told in an engaging manner. I received the galley of this book from the publisher on NetGalley, for the purpose of review. Opinions expressed are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Whipping Club is a timely novel that makes a powerful statement, revealing the sufferings of victims and families at the hands of the Catholic Church in the mid 1900’s. Although the story focuses on Ireland’s orphanages, Magdalene Laundries, and homes for unwed mothers, parallels can be drawn in many other countries where survivors of similar institutions are coming forward. The story centers around one family. Marian is a Catholic teacher at a Zionist school who falls in love with a young Jewish man named Ben. When she discovers she is pregnant, she tries to tell Ben, but his mother’s antagonism at her religious background forces her to keep her secret. Instead, she enters into a special hospital/home for unwed mothers where she puts her son up for adoption, assured he will find a good family in America. Marian and Ben marry and they have a young daughter. All seems perfect until one day, she learns the son she gave up for adoption is still in the Catholic orphanage she originally left him in. Ben and Marian take legal action to acquire custody of their son, Adrian, and begin to assimilate him into their lives. But he is under the custody of the nuns at the orphanage and they, together with the court system, maintain their hold and custody of the boy. Not for the faint of heart, this novel addresses several complicated and painful issues that are coming forward in today’s society. For the sake of the survivors, it is important to learn about what truly happened, to understand, and to learn from these mistakes so that such things never occur again. As a Catholic myself, it was a shattering experience to read about the harsh punishments, cruelties, and sexual abuse against innocent children and the prejudices against unwed mothers. I admired the fact the author took care to not only portray depraved or cruel religious members, but also those who were loving and kind, albeit the former outweighed the latter in numbers. What I admire is that the author had the courage to deal with such contentious issues such as deeply ingrained religious beliefs, transgressions, mercy, and the devastating consequences of not speaking out. This novel has depth and punch. It is not a light read – one should not skim over the words light-heartedly. Rather, readers need to prepare themselves to face a realm of emotions as they read and try to understand the true purpose for which the author wrote such a story. This heart-wrenching tragic drama has depth and richness. Despite the painful topic, the author leaves the reader with hope at the end. Bravo Deborah Henry for having the courage to address such tragic and painful realities in our recent past.