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unforgivable

Unforgivable is the story of a teenage girl and a young nun caught up in the great religious and social upheaval brought on by Vatican II, and a thriving adoption industry driven by society’s fierce disapproval of unmarried mothers.Seventeen-year-old Sylvia, like many unmarried teenage mothers across Australia in 1966, is forced to wait for the birth of her child in one ofUnforgivable is the story of a teenage girl and a young nun caught up in the great religious and social upheaval brought on by Vatican II, and a thriving adoption industry driven by society’s fierce disapproval of unmarried mothers.Seventeen-year-old Sylvia, like many unmarried teenage mothers across Australia in 1966, is forced to wait for the birth of her child in one of the homes and hospitals run by the Catholic Church. St Joseph’s Hospital, managed by the Sisters of St Anthony, has never had a girl walk out the front gate without first leaving behind her baby. But the sisters had never met Sylvia, defiant and headstrong and determined to keep her child....

Title : unforgivable
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 27925078
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 169 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

unforgivable Reviews

  • Suzanne
    2019-03-13 07:52

    I initially rated this in my head as I was reading along, at a four star read. I have changed my mind. This is a five star read. What a story Sharon Robards has to tell us. Here is a work of fiction, telling us about the real events of part of Australia's history, if we were to be honest, is abhorrent and just plain wrong. Sylvia is a young, unmarried mother, who finds herself where so many girls of this time did, forced 'coerced' into giving up her child, even before it was born. The rules that were broken, the little things that would have happened, like changing the girls names and not allowing fresh air in the rooms, although some might think is relatively minor, robbed these girls of their identity and sense of self worth.Sylvia, a strong willed and lovable character, is not going to give up without a fight. "I'm sure you think you're Christ's favourite Bride, but you're nothing but a sour faced, self righteous, bitter old woman who gets her jollies from taking babies away, because you'll never have one because no real man has ever wanted you."I enjoyed this book even though the content was hard, it's a part of our history that needs to be told. Thankfully, how times have changed.

  • Sharon
    2019-03-17 06:45

    In 1966 many young teenage girls ended up feeling abandoned, alone and fearing for their lives after they found out they were pregnant. They were forced into homes and hospitals run by the Catholic Church where they waited until they gave birth. Seventeen year old Sylvia was one of these girls, but Sylvia wasn't like the other girls because she wanted to keep her child, but her mother had other ideas. After travelling on the train together, Sylvia's mother took, Sylvia to St Joseph's Hospital in Sydney. Sylvia was to stay here until she delivered her baby, but Sylvia didn't want to stay as she was scared and felt so alone. Not long after, Sylvia had arrived at the hospital, she was approached by Sister Bernard, who was very insistent that she sign adoption papers. Sylvia had no intention of signing the papers as she was determined that she was going to have her baby. Unlike Sister Bernard, Sister Gregory felt sorry for these young women as she could see how hard it was for them. She could see they missed their families and how scared they were, but unfortunately she had a job to do. Sylvia met another young girl in there named, Kim and soon they would become close friends, which of course was a big no no in the eyes of the nuns. The nuns weren't use to someone like Sylvia as she wouldn't conform to their ways and nothing would make her back down.This was a remarkable story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Although this story is fiction, it still gives the reader an insight into what happened to these young women in the 1960's which is truly heart wrenching. Recommended.

  • Dale Harcombe
    2019-03-20 11:03

    I originally gave this novel four and a half stars. I've decided now to upgrade the rating to five as this is the novel I keep thinking about and its characters. In the course of reading this novel which I read through very quickly, I was saddened, angry, frustrated, exasperated, horrified and shed a few tears. All because I was so involved with the characters.I couldn't wait to read this book after I won a copy from the author and I was not disappointed. I started on it as soon as it arrived and found it a lot better than several of the library books sitting here on my shelf waiting to be read. Characterisation was excellent. I was right there with Sylvia and Kim and felt like I was going through the whole experience with them. I related so well and just about experienced claustrophobia myself, when the incidents with the room with windows locked shut and the windowless room.The novel had such a ring of authenticity, as it tells the story of seventeen year old Sylvia sent by her parents to a home and hospital run by an order of nuns. The stigma attached to unmarried mothers in the 1960s comes out very clearly and the horrors young unmarried women were subjected to is unflinchingly, yet I suspect realistically, portrayed. I could not stop reading. It was also interesting to see the attitudes and behaviour of Sister Gregory, as compared with some of the others nuns in the story. It shows how easy it can be to go along with things rather than speak out, something Sylvia is not afraid to do. It really brings the plight of unmarried mother and adoption issues to light. Makes us realise how much things have changed over the years. As well it raises issues about national conscription and the Vietnam War and the way dress fashions changed and the changes brought to the Catholic Church by Vatican 11. I loved the incident with Jean Shrimpton and the mini dress, etc.This is my first novel by this author and I thought it was extremely well worth reading for the story as well as the insights into how Australia and attitudes have changed.

  • Brenda
    2019-03-15 06:42

    As seventeen-year-old Sylvia travelled with her mother to the St Joseph’s Hospital in Sydney, she implored her to let her return home. She was frightened and didn’t want to be left alone at a strange place, with strange people who would ultimately be in charge of her immediate future. But the shame her mother felt wouldn’t allow her to grant Sylvia’s wishes; the next few months would change Sylvia’s life forever.With Sister Bernard demanding she sign the adoption papers immediately she entered her office, Sylvia was equally determined she wouldn’t – she wanted to keep her baby, why should she have it taken from her? She loved Tommy, and he said he would stand by her, and always be there for her. But 1966 Australia was a bad time and place to be unmarried and pregnant. The shame was great, the need for secrecy even greater. Sister Gregory was given the job of instructing Sylvia – she also had other young women in her care, including a lovely girl who befriended Sylvia named Kim. Sister Gregory felt some sympathy for the girls; her inner turmoil was confusing her. In the months that followed Sylvia’s incarceration she and Kim became close, but the Sisters of St Anthony ruled with iron fists; Sylvia was controlled but her courage and defiance shone through. The nuns had never seen a young woman such as Sylvia! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The anguish of the young women in the 60s and 70s is well documented; for those who wanted to keep their babies it was traumatic, for those who wanted to adopt them out, not so much. But the absolute shame and secrecy surrounding those “unwanted” pregnancies was heartwrenching – it doesn’t matter what side of the fence you are on. I’m sure there was a St Joseph’s in every city!I would have enjoyed reading a little more about what happened to Sylvia at the end of the story, also Sister Gregory – maybe that will be in a future story? But my enjoyment of this story was complete, and I highly recommend it. With thanks to the author for my copy to read and review.

  • Vicki Tyley
    2019-03-19 07:56

    “Nuns walked across the wooden floor, not speaking, accustomed to the screams as much as to the smell of ammonia. Business as usual. Except for the girl crying out and the swish-swish of black or white habits, the scene resembled a silent movie—quiet and without colour.” –UnforgivablePowerful and poignant, Unforgivable has an authenticity about it that goes way beyond mere historical fact. The people are real, the emotions complex and deep. The standout character for me was Sister Gregory, a nun with both empathy and conviction. A nun who didn’t always agree with the Catholic doctrine.The story summons up conflicting emotions. Sadness, because even though it’s fiction, it’s what actually happened in 1960s Australia. Admiration for those same teenage girls, who despite being forced to give away their babies sight unseen, never forgot. Or forgave.Highly recommended. If you enjoyed Love Child, the Australian TV series, you’ll love Unforgivable.

  • Mish
    2019-03-16 09:59

    I’ve read two Australian novels back to back, and at this present moment I couldn’t be more proud of Australian writers. Both of these novels were in-depth, significant stories that provoked a reaction in me, for different reasons.Unforgivable unleashed a fury that I didn’t see coming. Throughout the course of the book I could feel it was progressively getting stronger - by the end of it, I really could have smacked a few of these people around. It’s 1966, around the time when society, more importantly Catholics, considered being unwed and pregnant a disgraceful and sinful act. So what is their solution?In this book the solution it’s St Joseph; a hospital run by Catholic Nuns whom house unwed, expected young women for the term of their pregnancy. They are expected to surrender their child at birth to be adopted out, and then released into the society to go on living a normal life like nothing occurred.But as we know it’s not as simple as switching your feelings, off and on as you please. In Unforgivable we follow the life of two pregnant young women, and a Sister who is questioning her faith.Sylvia, who became pregnant to her boyfriend Tommy, believed Tommy did love her and will come back for her. She could see a future with her baby and Tommy in it but her parents tricked and betrayed by whisked her of St Joseph. A headstrong and determined girl, Sylvia fought the biggest battle of her life to keep her child, only to be severely bullied and threatened by the nuns into signing adoptions papers. Kim, who’s fiancée who left her when he found out she was pregnant could truly not see an alternative solution to her predicament, left the fate of her unborn child into the hands of the nuns, only to suffer great emotional scaring, torment and guilt that consumed her long after she left the gate of St Joseph.For Sister Gregory being at St Joseph and witnessing the most insensitive, malicious behaviour, inflicted upon these vulnerable women by her fellow nuns, caused her revaluate her vows, and the Catholic teachings and principles.Unforgivable is a short and easy to read little book but powerful in it’s own right; tight and well construction novel that leave no stones unturned. As Sharon shifts her point of view from nuns to waiting girl, her use of language, voices and mannerisms are very distinctive and convincingly strong. Not only are you instantly drawn into the plot but Sharon makes you become aware and feel the atmosphere at St Josephs, both as a nun and waiting girl; the suffocating heat and weight of Sister Gregory’s habit, to the lack of air in Sylvia’s room due to the nailed down windows; to make you feel as though you are trapped. For some unknown reason, I specifically felt an immediate connection to Sylvia, like she was my own daughter, and had this strange yet profound need to protect her. I was utterly disgusted, not only by the nun’s mistreatment of her, but also by her parents for placing her there, and not listening to her when she pleaded them to get her out. It was also around the time when the Vatican II where they were undergoing changes, so it was fascinating to hear how the nuns felt and were adapting to these changes.This story is engaging, heartfelt and moving, and would really like to thank Sharon for providing me with a copy and the opportunity to read and review her little gem.

  • Kathryn
    2019-03-08 06:45

    I would give this 3.5 stars, if I could. I just finished this book, having won a copy given away by the author at the end of last year (thank you, Sharon!), and it is certainly thought-provoking. My experience of this issue is from the other side of the fence - as an adopted child (more than 10 years after this time, so I'd like to think things had changed by then), and I haven't sought my biological mother/father, nor have I had children myself. As such, I suspect that there's still a lot to this issue that I don't really get and that can be explained by the proverb quoted several times in the book - "To understand a mother's love, bear your own children". And of course this was precisely what the nuns running the home couldn't do. What started out as a public service (or so I would hope) in taking pregnant women in to aid them before, during and after the births and, for those who did not wish to keep their babies, finding adoptive parents to take the babies, turned into something ugly and fiscally-oriented where they failed to take into account the wishes of the mother, or convinced themselves (and the mothers) that how they felt was their punishment (and therefore well-deserved) for having a child out of marriage. In addition, they were so rigid in their rules and regulations that they failed to see that their approach was not a matter of "one size fits all" - what works for one woman (no eye contact or bonding with the baby enabling her to move on more quickly) is not necessarily going to work for the next woman. It was also interesting to get some insight into the Catholic church from Sister Gregory's perspective and to see her struggles with her vocation and faith. Sister Anthony was my favourite nun - so wise and understanding and gracious. I read this immediately following The Rosie Project, which I thought was fantastic, so I had to make an effort not to compare the two. I did find the style of writing in this book a bit choppy and disjointed at times. I felt some of the chapters ended rather abruptly and ambiguously. I also felt the ending was rather unfinished - I liked the way Kim's story was threaded through the book but I'd have liked more information about Sylvia's later life and what happened to Sister Gregory afterwards. I enjoyed that the story was told from the different perspectives of Kim, Sylvia and Sister Gregory and that some of Kim's present day story was revealed throughout the book to keep me trying to reconcile the 1966 story with what I knew of the story in the later years. All in all, an interesting and compelling read (although I couldn't read it without stopping as it's quite intense).

  • Liza Perrat
    2019-03-06 05:05

    Set in 1960s Sydney, Unforgivable tells the story of seventeen-year old pregnant and unmarried Sylvia, who is sent by her parents to St Joseph’s Hospital, a Catholic Church-run institution catering to unmarried mothers, to await the birth of her baby.When Sister Bernard immediately demands that Sylvia sign the adoption papers, Sylvia is equally determined she won’t. She loves her boyfriend, Tommy, who has promised to stand by her, and wants to keep her baby. Very quickly though, Sylvia finds herself a virtual prisoner at St. Joseph’s and realises she must fight to stand her ground, not to mention her battle against the stigma, shame and secrecy of being pregnant and unmarried in 1966 in Australia.Besides Sylvia, the other two main characters are excellently drawn: Kim, who befriends Sylvia, and whose present day perspective, after she gave up her baby, is also cleverly woven into the story. Sister Gregory is an empathetic nun who often struggles with both the Catholic doctrine and her vocation.Unforgivable truly brings to light the plight of unmarried mothers and adoption issues during that time, and we realise how much things have changed since. It also raises issues about national conscription and the Vietnam War and the changes brought to the Catholic Church by Vatican II. Sydney in the sixties is excellently evoked through the author’s use of celebrities, events and fashions of the day.I felt the ending was a bit abrupt, and would have liked more information on Sylvia's later life and what happened to Sister Gregory. However, all in all, Unforgivable was a poignant, authentic and compelling read; a powerful story about unforgivable decisions and acts upon the innocent––young mothers being forced to give up their babies and go back to the real world and carry on as if nothing had happened. Highly recommended.

  • Carolyn
    2019-03-21 10:51

    In 1966 when 17 year old Sylvia finds herself pregnant to her boyfriend Tommy her mother spirits her away to a hospital run by the Catholic church where she is to wait out her time until her baby is born. She is locked in and not allowed to see Tommy, who has promised to stand by her and provide for the baby that she so desperately wants to keep. The nuns believe the best thing for the girls is for them to give up their babies for adoption and forget all about them and try to coerce Sylvia into signing adoption papers for her baby. However, this is also a time of great change for the Catholic church with the many modernising reforms announced under Vatican II, and one nun, Sister Gregory has started to question her role in the Church. As she becomes close to Sylvia she also questions whether they are in fact doing what is best for the mothers and babies.This a thoughtful, insightful novel of a difficult time for unmarried mothers in our society. The characters of Sylvia and Kim, the friend she makes at the hospital, and Sister Gregory are well drawn and the limited choices for women in those days clearly shown.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-25 10:43

    A thought-provoking, convincingly authentic story of unmarried mothers being forced to relinquish their babies for adoption in late 1960s Australia.

  • Michael
    2019-03-03 09:04

    1960's Australia and the general community attitude towards unmarried young women who fall pregnant was a far cry from what it is today. Back then having a baby out of wedlock was looked down on with the feeling being the girls would not be able to look after the child without the security of sound home structure and are seen by the church as sinners. The only way to solve to dilemma according to the church is for the girl's to have there babies put up for adoption to loving married couples who can't have children naturally. This policy that did so much harm to young girl's wen't on for decades and is the cornerstone of this moving and eye opening book.The story center's on a young girl called Sylvia who having fallen pregnant to her beloved Tommy, want's to keep her child when it is born. But her mother shamed by her daughters sin takes her to the St Joseph's Hospital run by the Sisters of St Anthony. Sylvia begs her mum not to make her go and once there she will find a place that in her own mind is worse than hell. The sister's rule with an iron fist but despite this Sylvia will refuse to play by the rules, countless times refusing to sign the paper that would allow her child to be adopted and questioning everything the sisters tell her. One of them is Sister Gregory who will have her attitudes towards the role of the her religion in helping unmarried women that become pregnant shaken after her time spent with Sylvia. On the other side is another expecting girl Kim who befriends Sylvia but unlike her keeps her true feelings inside while crumbling inside with the thought of never seeing her new born child. 26 years later she will receive a letter that sees the past and all the shame and guilt she felt all those ago come rushing back to the present.The most sobering thought for me while reading this book was this really did happen to many women not that long ago all across our great country. This was a time when our society was going through change with the swinging sixties that brought the term free love and the churches who did what they thought was the right thing but for the most part did more harm than good. The plight of Sylvia for one was heart wrenching with what she wen't through at the Hospital. My only disappointment was that i would of liked to have known what happened to her in the future along with Sister Gregory who had her own crosses to bare with the with her religion. Well researched Unforgivable present's a sobering portrait of a time when ignorance was extreme and the one's who suffered was numerous.

  • ☼♄Jülie 
    2019-02-27 10:00

    *This review may contain spoilers*UNFORGIVABLE by Sharon Robards is quite Un-put-downable and Unforgettable! The story takes place in Australia in the mid 1960’s when unwed mothers were still very much looked upon with much shame and disgrace, a shame which somehow often didn’t extend to include the role of the father in question, nor smear his name. It was a time when unmarried pregnant girls would find themselves quickly and quietly packed off to a place where they would be kept closeted until their baby arrived and then immediately and without further ado, the baby would be signed over to new, waiting parents.....as adoption was deemed the preferred and expected means of permanently dealing with the ‘problem’ by erasing all indications that it ever happened at all. It was, for all intents, a wholesale baby marketing exercise which greatly benefited the institution under the seemingly benevolent guise of giving infertile couples the chance to have a newborn baby, and.....”No-one need ever know”. So that the young girl who just gave birth could walk away with empty arms and so, without the obvious stigma of her sins, forget it ever happened and go on to lead a normal life... that was a part of the sales pitch. How ironic that the Church should accuse these naive young girls of having low moral standards and brand them sinners in the eyes of God.This is the story of Sylvia, a teenage girl who fell head over heels in love with her lifelong friend and then, due [largely] to her teenage naive innocence.... fell pregnant to him.To save face and avoid the consequences of raising a child out of wedlock, Sylvia is convinced to pack her bags and travel with her mother to a Catholic run home for unwed mothers where she has been booked to stay for the duration of her pregnancy and until her baby is delivered, at which time she believes she and her newborn will return home to be raised with the help of her mother until she and her boyfriend can be married as they had planned.....Unbeknownst to Sylvia, upon her admission at the Catholic home she will be incessantly exhorted to sign forms relinquishing all contact or claims to her baby from the moment of its birth, and at which point the baby will be taken from her and handed over to the new parents who have often already made very generous promissory donations to the Catholic church and its affiliates to secure the adoption.The story revolves around the enormous struggles, both physical and emotional, which Sylvia endures from all angles during the period of her stay at the home, where she unwittingly encounters the many unforeseen and unimaginable ‘conditions’ surrounding her predicament, which will test her and some of her mentors to the very limits of their sanity and faith.This story will pull at your heartstrings not just for Sylvia’s plight, but for all the very real mothers she represents during that time....and their babies, who as adults now seek to acknowledge their birth mothers and to be acknowledged in return.Kudos to the author Sharon Robards for her in-depth research into the workings of the institutions at that time and their rigid dogmas which were very often misinterpreted by their very representatives to a point which raised questions of their own ethical and moral standards, scarring their reputation immeasurably.Highly recommended.**I must mention here that my review of this book in no way shape or form suggests to criticize the adoptive parents of these babies, who's role I believe, at the time was an important and necessary one..

  • Sally906
    2019-03-17 10:52

    In the 1960s it was considered to be a real shame job to be an unmarried mother, and society was unflinchingly cruel towards an unwed woman with a child. The best a pregnant girl could hope for was to hide away in a nursing home, have her child, give it up for adoption, and return home without anyone learning about this shameful period of her history. This is all very good if that is what the young teen wanted to do, but many of them were forced into this decision. Sylvia is pregnant, a teen and unmarried. She dearly loves the father of her child, Tommy, and he loves her but her mother tricks Sylvia and drags her off to a nursing home for unmarried mothers where no outside contact can be made. Sylvia determines that no-one is going to be allowed to take her child, and besides surely Tommy has the right to decide the child’s fate? She refuses to sign the relinquishing papers and fights the nuns every step of the way. Kim is also in the nursing home, her fiancé dumped her when he found out she was pregnant even though he was the father. She feels there is no alternative but to give her child up for adoption and is more or less resigned to her fate even though she passionately wishes she can keep the baby. Sister Gregory is given the job of instructing Sylvia and Kim and she feels sympathy for the girls in her care; so much so she is facing a crisis of faith. As the two girls approach their respective births the emotions are running high and the actions of the nuns seem little less than cruel. I was in turns horrified, devastated, and angry at some of the things that were done to the girls, windows nailed closed, forced to use different names; and I was very proud of Sylvia’s resistance. Author Sharon Robards managed to arouse huge depths of feelings in me as her story unfolded. I became so involved with the characters – even being compelled to hurl verbal abuse at the various ‘nasty’ characters and cry with the ‘innocent’ characters. In the home when the girls have given birth their babies are whisked away before they can even see them. To my horror the girls were then put into the general ward where the married mums are nursing and cuddling their babies. I was utterly filled with rage! I was also angry that it took Sister Gregory so long to speak up and that her superiors were convinced that the girls were being treated was perfectly ok. How these women of God could act so callously blew me away. Sylvia was a very courageous young woman and I was cheering her every step of the way. My only complaint, and it is a very minor one, I would have liked to know more of what happened to Sylvia after the story finished. We saw what happened with Kim 26 years later, but not Sylvia. The same with Sister Gregory where was she many years later, was there a good life in a convent for a nun with deep faith but who didn’t always agree with Catholic doctrine? Having had my grumble the story as it stands was totally completed for me; just lingering wonderings about these last two characters. UNFORGIVABLE is a powerful story about unforgivable decisions and acts applied to the innocent. Mothers being forced to give up their babies and go back to the real world and pretend nothing had happened while their hearts bled for the child they would never hold. They may have gone out into the world, but they never forgot.With thanks to the author for my copy to read and review

  • Kathy
    2019-02-25 06:50

    A thought provoking and heart wrenching novel based on a time when soo many things were different to now – a time that has thankfully changed since 1966 Australia when girls who fell pregnant were locked away and forced to surrender their babies. The horror of that happening is something so hard to comprehend, but in this novel Unforgiveable – very well portrayed. Loved the characters in this novel as we follow unmarried 17 year old Sylvia as her mother takes her to St Joseph’s Hospital run by Catholic Nuns to await the birth of the baby to then surrender the child for adoption. Sylvia struggles with this and does not surrender easily! We also follow Sr Gregory who struggles with decisions made in the hospital and her own vows to God and the Church. This story, although fictional, is based on real events of that time between 1940 and 1970. A very good read, well researched and one that will stay with me for a long time…..

  • Marianne
    2019-03-18 10:04

    Unforgivable is the second novel by Australian author, Sharon Robards. In 1966, as a pregnant, unmarried seventeen-year-old, Sylvia is taken to St Joseph’s Hospital, a Catholic Church-run institution catering to unmarried mothers, to await the birth of her baby. The stigma attached to being an unmarried mother is just one of the levers that the nuns in charge use when trying to urge these young women to give up their babies for adoption. But Sylvia, convinced of her lover’s support, is determined to keep her baby. Finding she is virtually a prisoner at St Joseph’s, Sylvia’s resolve is sorely tested as she tries to maintain her stance. This powerful tale is told in thee voices: Sylvia recounts her interactions with the other “waiting girls”, the nuns, her lover and her family; Sister Gregory is a young nun whose vows are tested by the events surrounding this disruptive young woman’s stay; and Kim’s contribution is from the perspective, decades later, of a girl who gave up her baby. All this is set against a background of the changes in the Church instigated by Vatican II, the effects of the Vietnam War and the increased permissiveness sweeping the world during that decade. While some of the practices used in these institutions may leave the reader gasping, the cruelty of certain autocratic nuns will not come as any surprise to those who attended convent schools in that era. Robards has given the reader realistic characters, credible dialogue and the feel of sixties Sydney is deftly conveyed with judicious sprinklings of songs, personalities, events, and fashions. From her setting of the scene alone, it is apparent that Robards has done extensive research. This thought-provoking, sobering book is well worth reading.

  • Marie (UK)
    2019-02-23 08:53

    A tale based on the true story of the treatment of unmarried mothers in Australia. It is a very emotional tale and you become invested both in the story of the girl who dared to fight the decisions and all the girls who went along with them. What people did believing themselves to be acting in good faith both socially and morally is - as the title suggests - unforgivable

  • Tom Williams
    2019-03-03 09:08

    I'll start with the disclaimer. I "met" Sharon Robards in an online writing group and I commented on some very early drafts of the beginning of this work. For what it's worth, I still think that the opening pages are the weakest part of this book, so I sat down to read it without any particularly positive expectations.This is a simply stunning novel. Set in Sydney in 1966, it tells the story of Sylvia, who has got pregnant by her boyfriend and whose mother arranges for her to have the baby in a Catholic hospital and then for it to be adopted. Sylvia tries to rebel against her treatment, but is trapped in a system that sees illegitimacy as a terrible stigma and young women as incapable of making their own moral decisions.Basically, that's the story. It's the sort of thing I would normally avoid like the plague. I'm a man and this is a book that centres on "women's issues". But I found myself completely gripped by the characters and the situation.Many "literary" novelists argue that novels should concentrate on characterisation and themes and that story-telling is secondary. Sharon Robards, though, never forgets that a good book tells a story. While the characterisation is terrific and the issues are important, you are driven to keep reading because you want to know how things will work out. Will Sylvia keep her baby? In the end I cared. A lot. Sylvia's character is complex and exceptionally well-drawn and her hopes and fears are so real that it was difficult to believe the work is not autobiographical.The book is much more than the story of one young woman's horrific experience, though. It is a story of its time: a time when social attitudes, especially attitudes about "a woman's places" and sexuality, were undergoing dramatic change. For the nuns, who look after her, it is a time of change too. Vatican II is threatening all they have grown up with and believe in and the agonised uncertainty of the sisters is as carefully considered as Sylvia's own position. Sharon Robards is extraordinarily careful to be fair in the way that the nuns are depicted. Whilst there is one who is clearly a monster, most are doing what they do out of an honest sense that they are acting for the best. One of the main characters comes to doubt the justice of what she's doing and her spiritual agony as she begins to lose her Faith is genuinely moving.GMM Press is a publisher so small it doesn't even show up on the first page of a Google search. Despite winning a Writer's Choice award, this book is almost certainly doomed to obscurity because of the ludicrous state of modern publishing. If there were any justice, it would be a bestseller. Please do yourselves a favour and buy it.

  • Erin
    2019-03-23 08:00

    I received this book as a giveaway through the Historical Fictionistas Group on Goodreads. I had also received A Woman Transported earlier and enjoyed this book by Sharon Robards as much as this one. The book takes on the subject of unmarried teenage mothers and the process they go through in giving them up for adoption. I use "giving' in very loose terms as it was more of forcing them to give them up for adoption because of the stigma of being an unmarried teenage mothers at the time of the book which is Australia in 1966. The story follows Sylvia as she enters St Joseph’s Hospital and also starts to follow Kim's story, a girl that Sylvia meets at the Hospital. St Joseph's is a place where the girls have to sign adoption papers before they are even let into the dormitory even though it is supposed to be done after the birth. Sylvia's story follows her journey and her desperate attempt at keeping her child. It compares to kim's story as she willing gives hers up and has it come back on her later in her life. I really enjoyed the story and it made you think about how it was back then because while the story is set in Australia you know the same thing was happening all over the world and is still probably to this day. I would actually give this 3.5 if I could.

  • Jo Sorrell
    2019-03-20 11:06

    Saw reviews on goodreads

  • G.J.
    2019-02-28 08:43

    The title of this novel is very appropriate, telling the story of young Australian girls who were forced into having their babies adopted because they were unmarried in the 1960's. It is a heart wrenching tale and sad beyond imagination that these things happened. The Catholic Church in Australia has a lot on it's conscience as it appears this story was based on true events. Ms Robards has written a powerful novel, not an easy read but worth it.

  • Lorraine Cobcroft
    2019-03-11 10:55

    Sylvia is one of thousands of girls who fell pregnant before marriage in an era when sex before marriage was sinful and pregnant girls were locked away from society and forced to surrender their babies. Like so many, Sylvia was sent to a convent hospital where, as one of many ''waiting girls'', she was told over and over that she could atone for her sin and start a new life by giving up her child. She was denied contact with the baby's father and assured that he would abandon her and find someone new now that she was unavailable to satisfy his physical desires. But the nuns hadn't previously encountered anyone with Sylvia's determination. And they didn't know her Tommy.Sharon Robards tells a fictional tale that could have happened at any time in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Set in the time of the Vietnam war, it contains interesting data about the Roman Catholic religion, the lives of nuns, and the changes that took place at that time in church law and policy. One nun in the story exposes her doubts and questions both church rules and her superiors. The story provides valuable insight into the thinking of society at the time, religious beliefs of that era, and the emotional struggle of young girls forced to surrender their babies. It also covers the emotive issue of adult reunions between grown children given up at birth and the mothers who went on to build new families, and tried to forget. Well written in parts, the book seemed to me to ramble a bit and be disjointed in parts. The story didn't flow, and lost focus here and there. I felt it could have been better structured by focusing on the protagonist more. I found the dialog often tedious and repetitive, and felt significant chunks of text could be cut to greatly improve the work. In parts, I felt the story should have had more emotional pull. Other parts, however, were heart-wrenching, and a poignant paragraph near the end made me cry. It was superbly crafted to be so brief and unexpected that it jolted, yet it made precisely the desired impression on the reader.Sharon Robards is clearly a talented writer and while I felt the book read a little like an early draft that needed some revising, I really enjoyed the story.

  • Bookmuseuk
    2019-03-10 09:53

    Set in 1960s Sydney, Unforgivable tells the story of seventeen-year old pregnant and unmarried Sylvia, who is sent by her parents to St Joseph’s Hospital, a Catholic Church-run institution catering to unmarried mothers, to await the birth of her baby.When Sister Bernard immediately demands that Sylvia sign the adoption papers, Sylvia is equally determined she won’t. She loves her boyfriend, Tommy, who has promised to stand by her, and wants to keep her baby. Very quickly though, Sylvia finds herself a virtual prisoner at St. Joseph’s and realises she must fight to stand her ground, not to mention her battle against the stigma, shame and secrecy of being pregnant and unmarried in 1966 in Australia.Besides Sylvia, the other two main characters are excellently drawn: Kim, who befriends Sylvia, and whose present day perspective, after she gave up her baby, is also cleverly woven into the story. Sister Gregory is an empathetic nun who often struggles with both the Catholic doctrine and her vocation.Unforgivable truly brings to light the plight of unmarried mothers and adoption issues during that time, and we realise how much things have changed since. It also raises issues about national conscription and the Vietnam War and the changes brought to the Catholic Church by Vatican II. Sydney in the sixties is excellently evoked through the author’s use of celebrities, events and fashions of the day.I felt the ending was a bit abrupt, and would have liked more information on Sylvia's later life and what happened to Sister Gregory. However, all in all, Unforgivable was a poignant, authentic and compelling read; a powerful story about unforgivable decisions and acts upon the innocent––young mothers being forced to give up their babies and go back to the real world and carry on as if nothing had happened. Highly recommended.

  • Chloe
    2019-03-18 03:11

    A quick read (read in one day!)No time to write a review now, will come back!