Mother of Pearl by Mary Morrissy

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A tubercular child, Irene is banished to a sanitorium where, long after she is cured, she remains as a ministering angel to the lonely and the sickly - especially the men, whose furtive groping in the dark still leaves her virginal in body and in soul. But when one patient misconstrues her mission, Irene seeks an escape - and a marriage proposal from Stanley Godwin provides it. From this provocative beginning Mary Morrissy spins her haunting story of one woman's search for home and family, and for a sense of belonging that has long been denied her. Although Stanley is impotent, Irene carelessly tells a neighbor that she is pregnant. And Stanley, inexplicably, believes. Their marriage blooms into something dynamic and joyful as they await the child they have named Pearl. The lie, the calculated misunderstanding Irene has set into motion, will undo them both...unless, somehow, the child she has conjured out of light and air becomes flesh and blood. And the troubling truth emerges only years later, when a woman approaching middle age begins to remember her shadow life as the daughter of another mother.

About Mary Morrissy

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Published January 1, 1996 by Jonathan Cape. 256 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Irene is taken to jail, and Pearl, now called Mary, is returned to Rita Spain, the mother she's never known.

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Publishers Weekly

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In a first-person narrative occupying the final third of the novel and extending from her preadolescence into adulthood, Mary conjures Jewel as an imaginary companion while struggling to reclaim the buried memories of the years she lived as Pearl.

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