I confess I need a fair amount of action to keep me interested in a novel, which is why this beautifully written tale of cruelty and regret - much of it in the form of flashbacks that were short on action - took me a long time to get through. In 1891, a child dies, and the mother – who believed in serious punishment for even minor infractions – is convicted of murder and goes to prison. Part of the story is Harriet Ormond’s chilling diaries from various prisons. The rest is told by Harriet’s housemaid, Maddie, now dying, in 1968. Very Irish, very tragic. A 3.5, you may think it’s worth a lot more.