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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
“The battle between the outer and inner Self is the most challenging relationship we will ever encounter; all difficulties we experience with others is simply a reflection of the disharmony that exists within the Self.” So writes Clara’s Aunt Maeve in Beneath the Veil as she helps Clara come face to face with all the pain and darkness that has held Clara locked inside herself since being cruelly whipped at the age of 7, and later sexually abused by her own brother. As a victim of childhood sexual abuse myself, I knew Beneath the Veil by Bernadette O’Connor was a must-read. I expected a suspenseful, gripping, possibly even triggering story, but I didn’t expect the horror and revulsion I felt as Clara, and later Maeve, shared the disturbing details.
Beneath the Veil is set in Ireland during the time of the Magdalene Laundries. It’s a time when young girls are expected to rigidly adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The man of the family rules, as does the parish priest, and woe to any female who dares, as Clara did, to speak the truth about what goes on behind closed doors. Clara buries her secrets of abuse so deep, the victim inside her believes she’s to blame for what has happened to her. The journey back to her real self, to reconnecting with that inner child, the virginal maiden she never had a chance to enjoy, is an arduous one but with Maeve’s help Clara realizes that freedom comes “from being outside the walls that I had constructed within myself. No one kept me imprisoned except my belief that I was a victim, and the stories I created to keep me in that space.”
Beneath the Veil is a brilliant book. So many victims of abuse are writing their stories these days; several have become therapists or healers. Many include pointers at the end of their books, but this is the first book I’ve read that actually takes one through the process of healing, seamlessly evolving from the plot line into a self-help book without being preachy. There is a spirituality, a divine essence to the process depicted by Maeve, which I gather is what the author uses in her own practice of kinesiology and advance theta healing. As O’Connor writes: “I am not my past, nor am I my future. I am me, just a girl who has become a woman and evolving into a wiser one. And as I share this wisdom with others, I hope they may be inspired to step into their own path of BECOMING." Step into your own path of “becoming”. Begin by reading Beneath the Veil. Unforgettable!