Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.
In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.
Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.
Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In this historical fiction, Joanna Goodman illuminates a dark corner of Quebec’s history—and her own mother’s haunted past. Set in the ‘50s in a small town south of Montreal, the story follows teenage mother Maggie, who’s forced to give up her baby to a local orphanage. Seven years later, in a bid for funding, many of the province’s Catholic orphanages transform into homes for the mentally ill—and young Elodie disappears into a system of neglect. Mother and daughter’s twin quests to find each other give Goodman’s novel its beating heart, while her urgent, emotional prose make this portrait of compromise, loss, and family love deeply personal.
Goodman (The Finishing School) immerses readers in post-WWII Quebec, where hostilities divide French- and English-speakers, in this moving if at times predictable coming-of-age novel. The daughter of a once-impoverished French woman and a middle-class English-speaking father, 15-year-old Maggie Hughes chooses to be English. Despite her father's warnings that French boys are poor, "don't finish school," and have rotten teeth by 40, Maggie falls in love with Gabriel Ph nix, the humble French boy living in a crammed shack on the cornfield bordering her family's property. Their brief summer romance comes to an end when Maggie discovers she's pregnant and her parents give her two options give her baby to an orphanage or live in poverty with Gabriel. Fear of being disowned by her family leads Maggie to give up her daughter, Elodie. As the years pass, Maggie's decision never ceases to haunt her, especially when she discovers that orphanages are being converted into mental institutions. While the third-person perspective works well for Maggie's character, it comes off as unrealistic and forced in chapters about the younger Elodie ("She's old enough and clever enough to understand that life as she knew it is over"). Still, Goodman writes with passion about a dark episode in Quebec's recent past.
Home for Unwanted Girls
I enjoyed the book but was disappointed in the ending. I felt that the author rushed it. I would still recommend the book
Hands down the best
Not one to put reviews down but this book has deserved it read it all in one day best book to come out in a while in love
The Home For Unwanted Girls
Reading broke my heart, over and over again, but then, patched it back together again. Definitely unputdownable!