In this gripping story of betrayal by friends, family and the church, Martin Howe explores the relationship between individuals and a society which holds moral codes of behaviour in high regard. White Linen exposes the corrupting influence such constraints can have at all levels of society and on many of the people concerned.
Set in Dublin in the mid-1990s, the action centres on the closure of the last remaining 'Magdalen Laundry', where women who had transgressed moral boundaries were sent. The book follows four of the 'Magdalen women' who have spent the best part of their lives confined there and working for no pay. Readers join the women as they have their final drink at the local bar before going their separate ways. The emotions of leaving prompt the women to reminisce, revealing profoundly shocking secrets which fundamentally change everything they believed about themselves and their so-called friends. Relationships that have endured for decades are fractured, new bitter-sweet alliances are briefly formed, and everyone emerges in a different light. It all comes together in a surprising revelatory ending.
White Linen is about ageing and the compromises that are made with a painful past that appears to grow more alluring over time. The narrative deals uncompromisingly the imperfections of memory, but is also a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Above all, the novel tells of the moral hypocrisy and the appalling treatment of women by society, sanctioned by the religious establishment of the time.