Rock Me Gently: A True Story of a Convent Childhood

Rock Me Gently: A True Story of a Convent Childhood

Judith Kelly

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0747587140

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In the 1950s, shortly after her father's death, Judith Kelly was left in the care of nuns at a Catholic orphanage while her mother searched for a place for them to live. She was eight years old. Far from being cared for, Judith found herself in a savage and terrifying institution where physical, emotional, and sexual abuse was the daily norm and the children's lives were reduced to stark survival. As the months became years and no word came from her mother, she sought comfort instead from the girls around her, and especially the bright, angel-voiced Frances, who seemed miraculously untouched by the nuns' persecution and the abject misery surrounding her. When a tragic accident robbed Judith of her dearest friend, the traumatic memories of the event were to trouble her deeply, long into her adult life. Years later, at a kibbutz in Israel, Judith met and befriended an elderly Holocaust survivor. It was a friendship that began with an instinctive recognition of the fear and suffering each had experienced, and one that would begin an emotional journey culminating in Judith's return to the Nazareth House orphanage to confront her memories and to achieve some measure of peace.
Updated and revised by the author to confront her critics, this astonishing, moving, and deeply shocking memoir resonates in the mind long after the final page.

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myself screaming as if it were someone else’s voice. Sister Mary’s face twitched violently. She hit me in the face. Crack! A great stillness enveloped my shock. I clutched at my face. I wouldn’t take my hands away, not for anything. My nose, what had happened to my nose? It felt as if it had been pushed right into the interior of my head. Blood ran through my fingers. I tried to pull myself up. I didn’t know I was screaming, the others told me later. My chest ached and tears splashed into my

a big house. When she smiled at Nana it was only with her mouth, not her eyes. Pop called himself a ‘schpieler’. He ran his own betting offices in Mayfair and Brighton, and each day he held my hand as we walked to the Hampden Gurney School, near Marble Arch. I loved London, with its jungle of packed red double-decker buses grinding nose to tail, the continual murmur of dragging sounds, the silvery sigh of Pop’s car. He was big and safe, with twinkling dark eyes that smiled down at me as I

After she left, I sank down on to my bed again. I picked up the diary. I didn’t quite dare open it, not then. It was as if I had been living under an anaesthetic that was only now beginning to wear thin. Suddenly I was frightened of what might await me if I awoke. Would reading my childhood diary start it all up again? The guilt, the despair that had tinged my days for years. Then I remembered the recurring dream that still preyed upon my nights. I would awake from it gasping and choking, eleven

threatened me with a weapon. You’re evil, Norton, and I’ll make sure you’ll suffer for this.’ ‘You’re not only not going to report me,’ said Ruth, raising the knife again, ‘you’re never going to touch any of us again. You’re cruel, you’re like Hitler and you deserve to be sliced for what you’ve done to us, especially Frances. If you report any of us, then we’ll get you for all the low, filthy tricks you’ve been using on her.’ For a moment, Sister Mary searched for words to match her anger, her

pressed snugly against his arm. ‘Well- don’t you want to sit up for a while? I don’t bite, you know.’ I shook my head. ‘No, seriously, Rick. I’m really tired. Look, we’ll have a rave next time, OK?’ ‘You’re strange,’ he said, ‘but in a nice way.’ He touched my cheek lightly. I was in the habit of making up rules and pretending they had been imposed upon me; now I convinced myself that I didn’t like the idea of the night going on and on. Yet my heart still turned over in disappointment as I

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