‘If we don’t sit here where have we to go?’ ‘Well, there’s our walk every day. And we are allowed out twice if it is fine, and our boating in summer, and our little visits to the church and to the convents.’
‘And you’re twenty-one and I’m nineteen and a half,’ Kitty said hysterically. ‘My God, what a life!’
Gerald O’Donovan’s novel Vocations (1921) is set in a small town in late Victorian Ireland, and is a searing indictment of priests competing to acquire girls and their dowries for the church, and exploiting their high social status.
The Dublin Review of Books wrote: ‘O’Donovan left the priesthood due to strained relations with his conservative and philistine bishop … In the story of the Curtin sisters, he indicts late Victorian Catholic values, warped by the privileging of religious vocations over marriage. He is scathing about the waste of youthful potential, especially of women, and realistic about how the pursuit of personal autonomy carries a high price.’ November 2018