Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Unforgivable” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.09  ·  Rating details ·  47 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Unforgivable is the story of a teenage girl and a young nun caught up in the great religious and social upheaval brought on by Vatican II, and a thriving adoption industry driven by society’s fierce disapproval of unmarried mothers.

Seventeen-year-old Sylvia, like many unmarried teenage mothers across Australia in 1966, is forced to wait for the birth of her child in one of
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 15th 2014 by GMM Press (first published November 15th 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Unforgivable, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Unforgivable

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  47 ratings  ·  26 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Unforgivable
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
I initially rated this in my head as I was reading along, at a four star read. I have changed my mind. This is a five star read. What a story Sharon Robards has to tell us. Here is a work of fiction, telling us about the real events of part of Australia's history, if we were to be honest, is abhorrent and just plain wrong.

Sylvia is a young, unmarried mother, who finds herself where so many girls of this time did, forced 'coerced' into giving up her child, even before it was born. The rules that
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
In 1966 many young teenage girls ended up feeling abandoned, alone and fearing for their lives after they found out they were pregnant. They were forced into homes and hospitals run by the Catholic Church where they waited until they gave birth. Seventeen year old Sylvia was one of these girls, but Sylvia wasn't like the other girls because she wanted to keep her child, but her mother had other ideas. After travelling on the train together, Sylvia's mother took, Sylvia to St Joseph's Hospital in ...more
Dale Harcombe
I originally gave this novel four and a half stars. I've decided now to upgrade the rating to five as this is the novel I keep thinking about and its characters.
In the course of reading this novel which I read through very quickly, I was saddened, angry, frustrated, exasperated, horrified and shed a few tears. All because I was so involved with the characters.
I couldn't wait to read this book after I won a copy from the author and I was not disappointed. I started on it as soon as it arrived an
As seventeen-year-old Sylvia travelled with her mother to the St Joseph’s Hospital in Sydney, she implored her to let her return home. She was frightened and didn’t want to be left alone at a strange place, with strange people who would ultimately be in charge of her immediate future. But the shame her mother felt wouldn’t allow her to grant Sylvia’s wishes; the next few months would change Sylvia’s life forever.

With Sister Bernard demanding she sign the adoption papers immediately she entered h
Vicki Tyley
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Nuns walked across the wooden floor, not speaking, accustomed to the screams as much as to the smell of ammonia. Business as usual. Except for the girl crying out and the swish-swish of black or white habits, the scene resembled a silent movie—quiet and without colour.”Unforgivable

Powerful and poignant, Unforgivable has an authenticity about it that goes way beyond mere historical fact. The people are real, the emotions complex and deep. The standout character for me was Sister Gregory, a nun
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read two Australian novels back to back, and at this present moment I couldn’t be more proud of Australian writers. Both of these novels were in-depth, significant stories that provoked a reaction in me, for different reasons.

Unforgivable unleashed a fury that I didn’t see coming. Throughout the course of the book I could feel it was progressively getting stronger - by the end of it, I really could have smacked a few of these people around.

It’s 1966, around the time when society, more impo
I would give this 3.5 stars, if I could. I just finished this book, having won a copy given away by the author at the end of last year (thank you, Sharon!), and it is certainly thought-provoking.

My experience of this issue is from the other side of the fence - as an adopted child (more than 10 years after this time, so I'd like to think things had changed by then), and I haven't sought my biological mother/father, nor have I had children myself. As such, I suspect that there's still a lot to th
Liza Perrat
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set in 1960s Sydney, Unforgivable tells the story of seventeen-year old pregnant and unmarried Sylvia, who is sent by her parents to St Joseph’s Hospital, a Catholic Church-run institution catering to unmarried mothers, to await the birth of her baby.

When Sister Bernard immediately demands that Sylvia sign the adoption papers, Sylvia is equally determined she won’t. She loves her boyfriend, Tommy, who has promised to stand by her, and wants to keep her baby. Very quickly though, Sylvia finds her
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
In 1966 when 17 year old Sylvia finds herself pregnant to her boyfriend Tommy her mother spirits her away to a hospital run by the Catholic church where she is to wait out her time until her baby is born. She is locked in and not allowed to see Tommy, who has promised to stand by her and provide for the baby that she so desperately wants to keep. The nuns believe the best thing for the girls is for them to give up their babies for adoption and forget all about them and try to coerce Sylvia into ...more
A thought-provoking, convincingly authentic story of unmarried mothers being forced to relinquish their babies for adoption in late 1960s Australia.
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
1960's Australia and the general community attitude towards unmarried young women who fall pregnant was a far cry from what it is today. Back then having a baby out of wedlock was looked down on with the feeling being the girls would not be able to look after the child without the security of sound home structure and are seen by the church as sinners. The only way to solve to dilemma according to the church is for the girl's to have there babies put up for adoption to loving married couples who ...more
☼♄Jülie 
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Many

*This review may contain spoilers*

UNFORGIVABLE by Sharon Robards is quite Un-put-downable and Unforgettable!

The story takes place in Australia in the mid 1960’s when unwed mothers were still very much looked upon with much shame and disgrace, a shame which somehow often didn’t extend to include the role of the father in question, nor smear his name.
It was a time when unmarried pregnant girls would find themselves quickly and quietly packed off to a place where they would be kept closeted until
In the 1960s it was considered to be a real shame job to be an unmarried mother, and society was unflinchingly cruel towards an unwed woman with a child. The best a pregnant girl could hope for was to hide away in a nursing home, have her child, give it up for adoption, and return home without anyone learning about this shameful period of her history. This is all very good if that is what the young teen wanted to do, but many of them were forced into this decision.

Sylvia is pregnant, a teen and
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
A thought provoking and heart wrenching novel based on a time when soo many things were different to now – a time that has thankfully changed since 1966 Australia when girls who fell pregnant were locked away and forced to surrender their babies. The horror of that happening is something so hard to comprehend, but in this novel Unforgiveable – very well portrayed. Loved the characters in this novel as we follow unmarried 17 year old Sylvia as her mother takes her to St Joseph’s Hospital run by C ...more
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Unforgivable is the second novel by Australian author, Sharon Robards. In 1966, as a pregnant, unmarried seventeen-year-old, Sylvia is taken to St Joseph’s Hospital, a Catholic Church-run institution catering to unmarried mothers, to await the birth of her baby. The stigma attached to being an unmarried mother is just one of the levers that the nuns in charge use when trying to urge these young women to give up their babies for adoption. But Sylvia, convinced of her lover’s support, is determine ...more
Marie (UK)
A tale based on the true story of the treatment of unmarried mothers in Australia. It is a very emotional tale and you become invested both in the story of the girl who dared to fight the decisions and all the girls who went along with them. What people did believing themselves to be acting in good faith both socially and morally is - as the title suggests - unforgivable
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: aussie-author
too much religion and repetition for me.
Tom Williams
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'll start with the disclaimer. I "met" Sharon Robards in an online writing group and I commented on some very early drafts of the beginning of this work. For what it's worth, I still think that the opening pages are the weakest part of this book, so I sat down to read it without any particularly positive expectations.

This is a simply stunning novel. Set in Sydney in 1966, it tells the story of Sylvia, who has got pregnant by her boyfriend and whose mother arranges for her to have the baby in a
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
I received this book as a giveaway through the Historical Fictionistas Group on Goodreads. I had also received A Woman Transported earlier and enjoyed this book by Sharon Robards as much as this one. The book takes on the subject of unmarried teenage mothers and the process they go through in giving them up for adoption. I use "giving' in very loose terms as it was more of forcing them to give them up for adoption because of the stigma of being an unmarried teenage mothers at the time of the boo ...more
Josephine Sorrell
Saw reviews on goodreads
Terry Tyler
Set Australia, this novel is about Sylvia, who, in 1966, is sent by her mother to a Catholic home for unmarried mothers, her baby to be given up for adoption as soon as it is born.

Sylvia resists the often mentally brutal treatment by the nuns, in the belief that her life, her body and her baby should be her own to do with as she pleases, and that her boyfriend, Tommy, will stick by her. The book is written from alternating third person points of view, that of Sylvia and a young nun, Sister Grego
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of this novel is very appropriate, telling the story of young Australian girls who were forced into having their babies adopted because they were unmarried in the 1960's. It is a heart wrenching tale and sad beyond imagination that these things happened. The Catholic Church in Australia has a lot on it's conscience as it appears this story was based on true events. Ms Robards has written a powerful novel, not an easy read but worth it.
Lorraine Cobcroft
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sylvia is one of thousands of girls who fell pregnant before marriage in an era when sex before marriage was sinful and pregnant girls were locked away from society and forced to surrender their babies. Like so many, Sylvia was sent to a convent hospital where, as one of many ''waiting girls'', she was told over and over that she could atone for her sin and start a new life by giving up her child. She was denied contact with the baby's father and assured that he would abandon her and find someon ...more
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Set in 1960s Sydney, Unforgivable tells the story of seventeen-year old pregnant and unmarried Sylvia, who is sent by her parents to St Joseph’s Hospital, a Catholic Church-run institution catering to unmarried mothers, to await the birth of her baby.

When Sister Bernard immediately demands that Sylvia sign the adoption papers, Sylvia is equally determined she won’t. She loves her boyfriend, Tommy, who has promised to stand by her, and wants to keep her baby. Very quickly though, Sylvia finds her
Mia Redgrave
rated it it was amazing
Nov 25, 2013
Lynden Tilston
rated it liked it
Aug 25, 2017
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aussie-author
A quick read (read in one day!)

No time to write a review now, will come back!
Jasmine Vella
rated it really liked it
Nov 14, 2014
Donna Bartlett
rated it really liked it
Nov 30, 2016
rated it liked it
Oct 07, 2018
« previous 1 next »
I am an Australian author who lives two hundred kilometres north of Sydney, on the beautiful and rugged east coast of Australia, in a place called Port Stephens, a sanctuary for dolphins and a Mecca for tourists who come to see an annual migration of 6,000 whales.

Related Articles

Let’s face it, 2020 is making us long for other timelines. Luckily, these 32 novels are ready to sweep you away to vastly different eras and...
169 likes · 145 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »