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Book Review: A Whispered Name by William Brodrick

A Whispered Name by William Brodrick

This is an outstanding novel about the First World War and the long shadows the war casts. The writing is so accomplished and compelling I had to keep reading despite the horror of the story that was unfolding. Moving between the events at Passchendaele in 1917 and the terrible conditions of trench war fare, and a serene monastery more than sixty years later, a secret long hidden is uncovered. Father Anslem embarks on a journey of discovery after allegations are made against his mentor, the deceased Father Herbert Moore, who was once a Captain in the army. Was Moore responsible for sentencing a young Irishman, Private Joseph Flanagan, to death by firing squad for the charge of desertion? But did Flanagan really desert? And was he ever executed? And why are the records from this time incomplete?

Father Anslem unravels a truth that gives testimony to a terrible incident in one of the darkest chapters of modern history, while capturing the complexities of people who were caught up in exceptional – and impossible - circumstances. A Whispered Name is profoundly moving and beautifully constructed, with convincing characters that are complex, raw, and utterly human. It is a book that lingered in my mind for a long time after I had savoured the last sentence.

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