The Child Madonna - continued
The novel was written during daily train journeys from Crewe to London in 1989 and 1990.  I was present throughout the judicial inquiry on the Clapham Junction train accident briefing BR’s legal team, and passed a Catholic girls’ school between Euston station and my office.  At the time I had just joined Amnesty International’s Children’s Rights Network and was aware of cases of abuse of girls’ rights in a number of Middle East countries, and this and my daily walk prompted the reflection that the Biblical story of the Annunciation in reality hid much of the pain, doubt and risk of violence that a young teenager having a baby out of wedlock in 1st century BC Galilee would likely have suffered.  The handwritten draft was put to one side as I became heavily involved in the transformation of the way the railways managed safety and was only rescued, updated and typed after constant pressure from my local Methodist Minister to whom I had earlier shown the manuscript. 

The story, told initially through the ‘messenger’, tests Mary to see if she has the character and courage to be chosen for her destiny, and, then, through the 13 year old Mary’s own eyes, recounts the obstacles and abuses she suffered as she took the risk and obeyed her call, becoming pregnant in a society where the rigid code she defied would have made her very vulnerable.

The story takes the key parts of the biblical account but places it within an authentic texture and gives it a narrative urgency against a background of political turmoil and nationalist attacks on the Roman occupiers and Jewish collaborators with the foreign power.  It recounts the opposition from her bigoted Pharisee uncle, the doubts of her betrothed Joseph and efforts of her mother and younger siblings to protect and support her.


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