Troubador White Linen

Released: 28/11/2018

ISBN: 9781789015966

eISBN: 9781789012859

Format: Paperback/eBook

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White Linen


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.

My third novel Coming Down can now be bought online and ordered from all good bookshops. My first two novels The Man in the Street and White Linen are also available.

I loved this book. I got completely drawn in and couldn’t put the book down. The writing is wonderfully descriptive. It is sad, bitter sweet, funny but with real moments of page turning tension.

by Charlie Thorpe

What a great read! I loved the imagery portrayed at the Magdalen Laundry, I felt like a fly on the wall as it actually happened. The book details an eye-opening and astounding account of the trials and tribulations that actually happened to women who challenged the social boundaries not so long ago. I enjoyed the character development as the story progressed and at times the author created some real nail-biting scenes.

by Jack Rich

Fictional account of the lives of women in a Magdalen laundry. White Linen vividly tells the stories of five women whose lives have been shaped by cruelty, hypocrisy, and above all betrayal. Martin Howe's great accomplishment is to take the reader beneath the surface experiences of each character to the inner world of the thoughts and feelings of those forced to survive in a hidden world made for them by others. How do you cope with the sheer injustice of a lifetime's institutionalisation? Although fiction, the narrative has the feel of closely observed social history. An extraordinary novel which opens up a big social issue. Would be great for book club discussion.

by Peter B

Martin Howe perfectly captures the stultifyingly narrow world, tedious and harsh conditions endured by five women forced to live a life of servitude in the Magdalen Laundries. Despite having spent their entire adult lives working in this environment under the punitive eye of the Catholic church, with very little outside stimulus or freedom to expand their lives, the different characters of the women come to life and are beautifully drawn. By slowly revealing their background stories, we are given a glimpse of the lives they might have led, of lost opportunities. White Linen is a moving account of one of our history’s great injustices.

by Jane Clargo


by Kathryn Selvaggio

A moving and vividly told story. Highly recommended - I loved this book. Initially I’d been wary as to whether we needed another story about the Magdalen Laundries but the premise of the final closure of one of these places ( so late!) and the dispersal of 5 women whose lives were so cruelly diminished gives this book an original angle. The characters are beautifully drawn and their stories totally believable. The writing has some of the feel of Graham Swift in its capacity to conjure up a sense of time and place so vividly - it drew me in and kept me in thrall till the final page with its moving revelation. A testament to the power of love, friendship and the human spirit, despite everything. I highly recommend this book.

by P C Kelly

A great read shining a light on a terrible injustice. Excellent characterisation and a sympathetic, credible portrayal of the women whose lives were destroyed by one of the greatest injustices in recent history. This well crafted novel tells the story through the eyes of those who were let down and abused by the institutions that they most trusted.

by D S Mattinson

I can still remember the women’s stories two years after reading Howe’s beautifully written novel. Howe is able to capture the dehumanizing horror that young women endured with an unwanted pregnancy not that long ago. Equally tragic was how these women were treated later in life when the convent they had been locked up in allowed them to leave. At this point they had acquired few skills with which to find employment or to survive on.

by Margaret Monaghan

Martin Howe


Martin Howe previously worked in senior editorial, production, presentation and reporting roles in television,radio and online for the BBC and Channel 4. He has written 4 novels and lives in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.

Martin Howe
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