I was passed this book by a work colleague a few years ago, but being to big to carry around (710 pages), I took until recently to get round to reading it and that I should have started reading it when I did turned out to be significant.
You join the story of the main characters, May and Dulcie in 1947, they are two young children living in post war Britain and you are at first just involved in their day to day lives, a loving father and a mother who neglects them. I believed at this point of reading that the story was going to take me through their lives, growing up and how their futures panned out. I was right this is the story, but there are dramatic twists that lead them first to be living in a British orphanage and then to their new lives as orphans - "property of the state" until they are eighteen- but not in this country, in Australia.
Whilst reading this book, a harrowing, but fictional tale, the news was reporting that the Australian Prime minister made a speech apologizing to the children that were transported from the UK between 1947 and 1953 for the appalling treatment they had received at the hands of the Sisters and Brothers who were supposed to be caring for them. Two thousand, three hundred and twenty four children who had been treated so badly, beaten, starved, and worse sexually abused, by their same sex guardians.
All of the sudden, this fictional tale, whilst still fiction was a story relaying events that were real for many children. The words on the page had always been gripping, but now they became unbearable to imagine, and yet I was so involved in story I couldn't put the book down.
Children grow to adulthood, but lives with cruelty and no love do not ever recover, the scars are too deep and whilst some of the people we have known in the story from the beginning or have come to know along the way, can find a way of dealing with their previous lives- others cannot- the pain is beyond cure.
The Child Migration Scheme had been a post war remedy to relieve the problem of overcrowded British Orphanages- but the long sea voyage to paradise, had led them into to a land of atrocities beyond any nineteenth century comprehension. Tempted by sun, sea and sand, an antidote to the dismal cruel lives they led in the British orphanages, children were excited at the chance to set out on the adventure. But as the ships set sail their destination was hell.
Trust Me by Lesley Pearce is an insight into pure evil, I defy you not be tormented by this saga, as now that we know that it is based on true stories- it has moved from a heart rending saga, to a story where you despair of human behaviour.
My mother spent a deal of her childhood being raised by nuns and she could not talk about it, she only occasionally mentioned their cruelty. This made the tale of the British orphanages particularly hard for me to read and I send prayers from the bottom of my heart, that my mother, and the others who suffered, now rest in peace.
Trust Me is a book from bestselling author, Lesley Pearse, who has written such other books as 'Never Look Back', 'Father Unknown' & 'Remember Me' and is a fiction work.
The story of the book follows Dulcie & May Taylor who are young sisters who find themselves in an orphanage following tragic events in which their mother is killed and their father is placed in to prison for a lengthy sentence. The orphanage has different consequences for Dulcie & May and in later life they find themselves in different parts of the country from each other to start with and this is brought on by the difference in age of the sisters and one of them departing the orphanage before the other and ultimately ending up in different jobs which help to mould the future for both of them.
Dulcie & May find out that everybody throughout their lives who they have been told to trust or learnt to trust has turned out to betray them or do things that aren't in their best interests and this creates a void between the sisters with Dulcie being the shy, retiring type & May being the bolshy, outgoing, more confident sister and Dulcie often finds herself longing to be more like her sister but as time goes on she will learn that life isn't always better for someone else just because you imagine it to be.
Tragedy touches both of their lives but will they let it rule them forever? Both of them have to try to learn to accept things that have happened and move on but it's not always as easy as that.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is one that I have been drawn back to again and again as I find it so well written and the characters in the story really draw me in and hold my attention and although it's a staggering 720 pages I can honestly say that I am never bored for a single page and I usually find myself reading through it in just a few lovely, leisurely, long evenings.
This book is currently available in Paperback form from Amazon.co.uk for £5.99 and new or used from just 1p + postage.
I enjoy all books by Lesley Pearse and this one is no exception, hence my 5/5 rating.
TRUST ME yes, trust me, this is a novel you will not be able to put down, it is a very sad story, but what is even more sad is that although it is fictional, it is based on events which actually happened, not all that long ago either.
The main character is Dulcie Taylor and we are introduced to her and her young sister May, when they are only young children just after the second world war. Her mother is a bit of a flighty piece and leaves the children alone while she goes out shopping for new clothes or works part time as a barmaid, she is also having an affair with the pub landlord.
The childrens father idolises his two children and there are many arguments between him and his wife, the fiercest one results in his wife confessing to an affair whilst he was serving his country and she reveals that May is not his child.
The two girls are awakened by the row and when their mother falls down the stairs from their flat, they are dragged out of bed and taken to their grandmothers whilst their father is arrested for murdering his wife.
Despite protesting his innocence, the father is given a long prison sentence and as their grandma lives in a slum and is not well enough to look after them, the children are taken into the care system. They start off at a catholic home, looked after by nuns, but the ill treatment they suffer is horrendous.
Eventually the girls are offered a place on the emigration scheme for orphaned children and are sent to Australia, where they believe they will start a new life. They are led to believe their father has given his consent to them being sent away, yet they cannot understand why he never writes to them. Nor can they understand why one of the teachers from their school never writes either. She was very good to them in the initial days of them being taken into care, but gradually the cruel nuns lie to the girls that nobody cares for them by hiding and destroying any letters that arrive for them.
Once in Australia they find the care home there is every bit as bad as the one they had left in England, worse in some things. Dulcie is treated as a drudge, but her younger sister May is singled out by the Mother Superior and receives preferential treatment.
When Dulcie is old enough to go out to work she is sent to a farm in the outback, where once again she is treated badly and runs away. As she is still a ward of the Australian government she is taken back to the farm by the police and it is only then that she realises the farmers wife treats her badly because she was once a victim of the care system herself. The two women eventually begin to understand each other and life is bearable for a time, until the farmers wife runs away herself. Dulcie is then made to leave the farm and sent to another one and for the first time since being a child she begins to feel someone cares for her and eventually she falls in love with one of the farm workers.
During all this time she has had no contact with her sister, who is still in the orphanage, but one day the farmer and his wife take her to visit. They are shocked at what they find and voice their opinions to the Mother Superior. However, she is so nasty that she reveals the girls father is in prison for murdering his wife, a fact which Dulcie had never told anyone.
When May is old enough to go out to work she is sent to work as a maid at the home of a relative of the Mother Superior so she can still keep in touch with her. It is revealed that the nun has been sexually abusing the girl, which makes May feel worthless and she begins to lead a somewhat wild life, running away from the house where the was working.
By this time Dulcie is married to the farm worker, but their marriage has not been consummated because of his terrible experiences as a child, but he cannot share these secrets with his wife and she is bewildered as to why he does not find her attractive. Little by little he reveals that he was also brought up in a catholic childrens home, separated from his brothers, and having nobody to care for him.
Dulcie decides to make him face up to his past, but afterwards realises this has been even more damaging to him. She also tracks down her sister, to find she is leading a very sordid life and has a child. May then abandons her son and tells Dulcie to put him in a childrens home, but Dulcie cannot subject her nephew to the terrible treatment she herself had received in such a place.
Regrettably, Dulcies husband does not understand about her concern for the child and eventually they drift apart. May comes to a tragic end but Dulcie and her nephew find happiness as the story comes to a conclusion.
The story begins in the 1940s and ends in the 1960s, taking the reader on a journey through the life of a tragic little girl, going into detail about the cruel treatment she was subjected to by nuns and revealing a lot about what went on in catholic childrens homes. Sadly, none of this was common knowledge to the general public until fairly recently. This story is fictional but there has been a lot of research done and what went on did, unfortunately, happen to many children who were placed into the care system during the post war years.
I found the book very sad, I couldnt put it down, but it was draining to read. I would not recommend it to anyone who has been in care as it may dig out old wounds that you prefer to forget. For the rest of us, it is a useful read because it shows how children who had no family to care for them, were abused and maltreated by those who were trusted to look after them.
We may criticise Social Services nowadays, but they are angels compared to those nuns and monks who were entrusted to look after vulnerable children in the 1950s.
“Trust me!” she spat.”As soon as someone says, “Trust me”, you can be sure they’re going to let you down, or hurt you!” Dulcie Taylor and her little sister May have not had the best start in life. Following a family tragedy, the two young sisters are placed in the care of the Catholic Sisters of The Sacred Heart convent. Dulcie, a nervous and sombre child, is apprehensive, but she is assured by all the adults she knows that everything will be fine, just fine. But the Convent is a cold, dank and cheerless place, and the Nuns are unfeeling and spiteful towards the little ones who have had the misfortune to be placed in their tender care. So when the chance arises out of the blue for Dulcie and May to emigrate to Australia on the Child Migration Scheme, they jump at it eagerly. Sold a dream of a land of milk and honey, where there is perpetual sunshine and warmth, where the trees hang heavy with ripe fruit, theirs for the taking, and where horses and kangaroos bound freely across wide expanses of land…well, what orphan wouldn’t want to be on the first boat out? If Dulcie and May can just be lucky enough to be accepted onto the Scheme, everything will be fine. Just fine. But sadly, this dream too, turns out to be an illusion. Life at the Australian orphanage of St Vincent’s turns out to be, if anything, even harsher than back in England.The displaced orphans are little more than slaves, forever at the beck and call of the evil Sisters.Beatings are handed out on the flimsiest of excuses, the children are kept short of food, letters from home are intercepted and destroyed and friendships are discouraged. As well as the physical abuse, there is also sexual abuse at the hands of some of the Sisters. Perhaps even worse is the psychological abuse the children suffer. They are constantly told that they are worthless, the dregs and cast-offs of a Society that has no place for them. T
hey are told they are not only unloved, but unlovable. And they come to believe it. Eventually, Dulcie leaves St Vincent’s at the age of sixteen to get a job, and for the first time in their lives the sisters are parted. After one terrible experience, Dulcie finds a place on a farm with a caring couple called Mr and Mrs French.Here she meets Ross, a stockman, who is another orphanage survivor. Dulcie is drawn to Ross because of their similar pasts. Ross too, is haunted by his own demons and, like Dulcie, finds it hard to trust anyone. Dulcie believes that together she and Ross can put the past behind them. But it is never going to be that easy, and Dulcie, by her well-meaning efforts to help, very nearly destroys them both. As for little May, left behind in the orphanage, she seems to fare a little better than most of the children. She is a pretty, endearing child and soon becomes the special favourite of the Reverend Mother, a position which affords her a few privileges. But she has to pay for them. Oh Lord, how she pays for them! Tougher than Dulcie, May seems to be better equipped to go out into the big, wide world. But even she doesn’t realise just how much damage has been done to her by those who should have had her best interests at heart. May’s future is inevitable, and her downfall predictable. None of the characters in this heart-rending novel are destined to live happy ever after. All are victims of a system which was rotten to the core. It may shock you to learn (it certainly did me) that it was as recent as the late Forties and Fifties that British children were transported to Australia, often without their families’ knowledge or consent. Their only crime was to be in care for one reason or another. The Child Migration Scheme was set up to relieve the pressure on overcrowded and ill-equipped British orphanages, and also to people the colonies with “good British stock.”
These defenceless children were placed in the “care” (a misnomer, if ever I heard one) of holy Nuns and Monks who worshipped a God who said, “Suffer little children to come unto me.” And how they did suffer! Many passages in this novel are almost too painful to read; harrowing descriptions of both physical and mental torture, starvation, beatings on bare buttocks and legs with leather straps, incarceration in dark, damp cellars, being groped by nuns with bony fingers, or buggered until they bled by sex-starved monks. If this book had been a film, I would have been watching with my fingers over my eyes! And of course, there was no one to whom these little souls could cry out for help. Who would have listened to their sorry tales? Who would have taken their word against the word of the all-powerful Holy Catholic Church? Who would have believed it? Believe it! For although this novel is a work of fiction, it is based on fact. Only recently has the truth been revealed. Many of the survivors of these dreadful orphanages (and survivors is exactly what they are!) are now in their twilight years and at last able to reveal the truth of their traumatic childhoods. Slowly, we are learning about lives blighted and destroyed by the Child Migration Scheme and the inhumanity of the Catholic Sisters and Brothers. This epic novel of some 700 pages is a searing indictment of Child Care in the 50s and of the Catholic Church especially. I won’t pretend that it is an easy novel to read…it isn’t, and, in fact, I did put it down a few times because I became upset. But it is a novel worth reading. It is frank, honest and very, very moving. The characters may be fictional, but they come to life on the pages of this book. You cannot help but feel sad for the children, and angry for them too. As I closed the book I was praying that no other child would ever have to suffer the way these little ones did. We owe it to them
to read their story. To conclude, I leave you with a message from the author, Lesley Pearse. …”To all those children everywhere, who suffered the indignity and brutality of orphanages…My heart goes out to you, and I hope in some small way this story will acknowledge the sadness of your past…and help you to put it aside….” “Trust Me” is published in hard cover by The Penguin Group price £16.99 and also in paperback price £6.99
After a fresh start in Australia goes wrong, Dulcie is challenged to build a new future for herself.