Home for Unwanted Girls

Home for Unwanted Girls

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
16
1

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.

Publisher: HarperCollins, 2018
Edition: ON ORDER
ISBN: 9780062834089
0062834088

Opinion

From Library Staff

Comment
SPL_Sonya Sep 10, 2018

Please see the Summary section for a full review of this book.

Comment
melwyk Aug 15, 2018

Really great historical novel - full of drama, family secrets and strong characters. It highlights a terrible part of Quebec history that many people are unaware of. Great book club choice as there is a ton of discussable content here.


From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

l
lisahumphreys
Oct 18, 2018

Great book about adoption in the 1950's in Canada.

j
Jenkskitten
Oct 06, 2018

A great story that should be read by everyone. It tells of the treatment of girls placed in the care of government homes, how many endured their fates. Great read.

f
fangger
Sep 20, 2018

A really good read. Hard to believe what was done to the children in the orphanages and that they were treated that way here in Canada.

SPL_Sonya Sep 10, 2018

Please see the Summary section for a full review of this book.

j
JMR207
Aug 16, 2018

Excellent book about a part of Canadian history that I had never heard about before. Heartbreaking story of a young girl forced to give up her baby at birth, her lifelong yearning to be reunited and the horrific treatment of orphans in Quebec. Highly recommended.

melwyk Aug 15, 2018

Really great historical novel - full of drama, family secrets and strong characters. It highlights a terrible part of Quebec history that many people are unaware of. Great book club choice as there is a ton of discussable content here.

b
BeckyR21
Aug 12, 2018

Heart-wrenching. This is a gripping read of a terrible and depressing time of Quebec history. What Maggie and Elodie endure is almost unbelievable that this book is based on true events in not so recent Canadian history. Well-written and evenly paced, you will not be able to put this book down. Highly recommend.

s
singidunum_25
Jun 30, 2018

Amazing read based on true events....I have learned something new from Canadian history, something that we can not be proud with, but should have been aware of....Learn more about this shameful moment and Duplessis Orphans, before reading this book:
https://www.freedommag.org/english/canada/reports/page01.htm
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duplessis_Orphans

d
dchbrown
Jun 26, 2018

Definitely a page-turner...couldn't put it down. A sad, heart-wrenching part of Canadian history but an important story to know. A great story woven into this history - well-written!

q
Quietday
Jun 10, 2018

4.25 stars. I REALLY enjoyed this story; so many layers of lives and cultural dynamics. I haven't been affected like this by a story in some time. So many unfortunate sorrows and yet, nobody was ill-willed, just products of their time. The author did a spectacular job of tying up loose ends. Lots of tears in the final pages and fair bit of ire for the actions of the Catholic church who willingly caused so much pain.

View All Comments

Summary

Add a Summary

SPL_Sonya Sep 10, 2018

The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman is both a heart-wrenching and heart warming novel of  historical fiction set in Montreal and the Eastern Townships of Quebec spanning almost 30 years beginning in 1948.  It is the story of Maggie, the daughter of an educated Anglo-Canadian father and a French Canadian mother from a poor family.  Their marriage is precarious and a reflection of the relationships among the French and English residents in their small town southeast of Montreal who simply tolerate each other.  At the age of 15 Maggie falls in love with Gabriel, a handsome 16 year old French Canadian farm boy with blond hair and grey eyes.  Maggie's father disapproves of their relationship as he has a better future in mind for her. He sends her away to live with her aunt and uncle.  When Maggie gives birth to a daughter the baby is sent to an orphanage.  Maggie names her daughter Elodie which is a type of hardy lily.  Elodie will need the resilience that her name bestows to survive the neglect and abuse of the church run orphanages turned mental institutions, a plan by the provincial government under Premier Maurice Duplessis to receive more federal funding. Ten years after Elodie is born, Maggie and Gabriel reconnect and start a new life together, one which includes the search for their daughter.  The end of the novel is one of hope and forgiveness but also of determination to reveal the injustices suffered by thousands of children at the hands of the Catholic Church and the Government of Quebec at the time.

Goodman writes a beautifully descriptive, moving novel with well developed characters.  The novel flows chronologically in third person narrative with chapters alternating between Maggie and Elodie.   Readers of historical fiction and family sagas should find this novel especially appealing.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at SPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top