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.
This was a phenomenal book! The fact that is was inspired by true events of 1950s Quebec makes it that much more so. The Home for Unwanted Girls has a very similar feel to Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. It’s a beautifully written story about such a tragic event in history. A teen mother forced to give up her baby girl, a baby girl living in an orphanage until that orphanage is turned into a metal home and all children declared mentally ill for more money and treated horribly by the nuns in care of her. This is a book you don’t want to miss! It’s full of love, pain, loss, and so much more.
I picked this book up and didn’t put it down til I had read the whole thing. I loved the story and the writing was just amazing.
I can not wait to see whats next from Joanna Goodman!
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Star read all the way!
Joanna is the author of four previous novels, including The Finishing School, You Made Me Love You and Harmony. Her stories have appeared in The Fiddlehead, The Ottawa Citizen, B & A Fiction, Event, The New Quarterly, and White Wall Review.
Originally from Montreal, Joanna now lives in Toronto with her husband and two children, and is at work on her sixth novel. She is also the owner of a well-known Toronto linen store, Au Lit Fine Linens.