There is a review to follow, but I’ll just say that Lying in Wait is a really intersting character study which is, in places, really uncomfortable. The Fitzsimons family in particular are superbly written and the whole novel is compulsive reading.
I asked Liz if she would be able to give us a bit more background about central character Annie Doyle – it’s not a spoiler for me to tell you that she meets her end within the first few pages, but her influence continues very strongly in the rest of the book. There are lots of things I’d love to tell youabout Annie, but they would be spoilers, so I’ll leave it to Liz to tell you about this troubled but determined young woman.
Annie Doyle was born with what she considered a deformity, and a later botched operation left her with a cleft lip. She was incredibly self-conscious about this and would never have developed self-esteem about her appearance. In addition, although I do not say it in the book because the term wasn’t known in 1980 when the book is set, Annie had quite severe dyslexia which made reading and learning difficult. I imagine that her schooldays were tough. She inevitably became a frustrated troublemaker in order to assert herself as she felt physically and academically disadvantaged.
But Annie was a smart girl who loved her younger sister and although she might have been slightly jealous of her sister’s beauty and academic achievement, she worried that Karen might fall in to the same trap she had.
Annie, seeking attention wherever she could find it, became pregnant at sixteen. It must have made her feel special, at least fleetingly, to know that she was desired by a boy. The father of her baby, a teenager himself, did not want to know about her pregnancy.
The greatest shame you could bring on your family in Ireland in the mid 70s was to be pregnant outside of wedlock. The fathers of these babies were never held accountable but thousands of girls were sent away to Catholic run institutions where they were incarcerated until they gave birth and signed their babies away for adoption. The convents were paid by the state to keep these women until they had their babies, who were then often sold to American or English couples. In the meantime, the mostly young women were used as slave labour in laundries and factories.
Annie refused to sign the adoption papers for her child for eighteen months so when she finally did, she must have been a very broken young woman.
Returning to the family home would have been difficult as she was expected to carry on as if nothing had happened. She was expected to forget about the baby she had nurtured for more than a year. She must have been full of resentment towards her parents who allowed that to happen. So it is not surprising that once she had got over the institutionalisation, she turned to drink and drugs, thieving to feed her habit.
When respectable judge Andrew Fitzsimons caught her stealing his wallet red-handed, she thought that she would be in major trouble so she was surprised when her sob story about a sick mother worked on him and he showed her kindness. When he later sought her out, she reckoned he was a soft touch. Poor Annie was very wrong about that.
Huge thanks to Liz for this contribution, Lying in Wait is out now in multiple formats, and the blog tour continues on the lovely blogs below, so do check them out.