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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Making of Her

ISBN: 978-0593186138

Publisher: Dutton

Publication Date: 08/09/2022

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC)


An unforgettable debut novel about family secrets, falling apart, and coming together.

Dublin 1996. Joan Egan lives an enviable life. She and her husband, Martin, and daughter, Carmel, are thriving in Dublin at the dawn of an economic boom. But everything changes when Joan receives a letter from Emma, the daughter who she and Martin gave up for adoption thirty years before, asking for a life-or-death favor.

While Joan grapples with the guilt over giving up her baby long ago, she must confront her present as the cracks in her marriage become impossible to ignore and simmering tension with Carmel boils over. Meanwhile, Carmel and Emma must come to terms with the perceived sins of their mother, to imagine a future for their family before it is too late.

Spanning the nineties and the sixties, with Dublin as its backdrop, The Making of Her is the tender and page-turning story of marriage, motherhood, a culture that would not allow a woman to find true happiness—and her journey to finally claim it.


Bernadette Jiwa’s powerful debut serves as a tribute to motherhood and the strength of women.”


"Memorable insights are quotable and the ending is satisfyingly true to the ups and downs experienced by Joan’s extended family. Fans of Maeve Binchey, Cathy Kelly, or Adriana Trigiani may find a new favorite author here.”

—Booklist (starred)

“The Making of Her sucked me in from the very first page, and didn’t let up until I’d turned the last. Heartwarming and heartbreaking, it is an exquisite examination of the secrets that haunt us. I cried several times. A stunning debut.”

—Sally Hepworth, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Sister

“The Making of Her is a compelling and tender exploration of the unattainable expectations of women, the shame and guilt inherent in motherhood, and the reverberations of the hardest choices we make. Jiwa gives us a beautifully crafted, thought-provoking novel that ultimately celebrates the strength of women. A true pleasure to read.”

—Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push

“Bernadette Jiwa’s moving fiction debut, The Making of Her, explores the impact of secrets, the magnitude of our choices, and the tenuous binds of family. Set in Dublin and shifting between past and present, this deeply evocative novel is a masterful study into what it really means to love, and to forgive. The Making of Her is ultimately a story about the plight and power of women, and is not to be missed.”

—Karma Brown, bestselling author of Recipe for a Perfect Wife

“An absorbing, brilliantly paced book; I didn't want it to end.”

—Roddy Doyle

“Oh how I love this novel! Once I started reading I never looked away, except when my eyes filled with tears. The Making of Her renders its characters so perfectly, and with so much compassion, they feel like dear friends after only a few chapters. Bernadette Jiwa has written a beautiful tribute to what our lives can become when shame is forgotten, and love is reclaimed.”

—Nina de Gramont, author of The Christie Affair

"Bernadette Jiwa writes with compassion and grace about what it means to be a mother, a daughter, and a sister."

—Pip Williams, author of The Dictionary of Lost Words


My Review

A captivating and tragic story...beautifully told! A truly gorgeous debut. Get set to be HOOKED!"

Bernadette Jiwa's THE MAKING OF HER is a poignant love story for mothers and daughters worldwide. I LOVED it so much—I did not want it to end. Sunday afternoons were invented to read "heart-tugging" novels like this.

From Dublin 1965 to Dublin 1996, we meet Joan Eagan. Told from the POV of Joan and her daughter, Emma (April).

Joan grew up on the poor side of town and worked in a factory. When she met Martin, she thought her dreams had come true. He was from a wealthy and prominent family-owned business. However, things did not work out as planned. There was an unplanned pregnancy which was taboo back in the day.

The two escaped to London while she was pregnant and lived in a boarding house. However, Martin needed to return to Dublin, Ireland, due to the family business. His mother, Molly— was quite controlling (and mean) and handled the purse strings. She would kick him out if he had a baby out of wedlock. Martin planned on marrying Joan, but he stated they would have to give up the baby for adoption. No way around it.

Joan was devastated. She had no money, a deadbeat drunk dad and sister she loved back in Dublin, but no means to take care of herself and her unborn child. She had few choices, and Martin made her feel he was doing her a favor by marrying her.

Martin eventually wore her down, and they gave up the baby, but Joan never was the same. They moved back to Ireland into the house with Molly (her horrible mother-in-law), which always treated her like a second-class citizen their entire marriage. They had a lovely home, money, and status, but that mattered little to Joan.

Joan was miserable. Martin promised that if the little girl they named April came to find them at age 18, he would accept her. Joan even purchased her a diamond pendant necklace, but she never contacted them at the time.

Joan and Martin went on to have another daughter, Carmel. However, Joan became nostalgic about the birthdays she missed with her first daughter every year. She was saddened and heartbroken and could not talk about it with anyone. She could not believe Martin had washed his hands of their past. Their daughter.

Due to this, she was never close to her daughter, Carmel. Carmel and Martin worked in the business together. That was all her husband cared about the family name, money, greed, and position.

Joan felt like an outcast. Until she received a letter postmarked from England in Sept of 1996.

Unfortunately, this scenario ring true for many couples in the 50s and 60s, when women were controlled by men and had little or no choices. When people worried about social status and what people thought.

I picked up this book and could not put it down! It grabs you immediately and does not let go.

A story that reveals heartbreak, tragedy, and loss...yet hope and love for second chances. One that will stay with you for a long time. An uplifting book for all women, no matter the age.

An impressive debut, well written, and engaging! An author to watch. I cannot wait for her next book! For fans of author Kathryn Hughes (another favorite).

Thank you to #DuttonBooks and #NetGalley for an ARC to read, enjoy, and review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Aug 9, 2022

My Rating: 5 Stars ++ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Author

Bernadette Jiwa is an Irish Australian author who began her writing apprenticeship as a blogger and non-fiction writer in her mid-forties.

In 2019 she embarked on writing her debut novel, THE MAKING OF HER, which will be published in 2022 by Dutton in the US and Penguin Random House in Australia.







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