The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
Genre: Historical Fiction
Philomena meets The Orphan Train in this heart-wrenching story of a mother- daughter bond that could not be broken–a novel inspired by true events.
In 1950s Quebec, the French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’s parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy, Gabriel Phénix, on the neighboring farm. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel. 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 an insecure 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. Withstanding abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, Elodie finally earns her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving, world.
Maggie, married to a businessman who is eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. Over the years Maggie’s and Elodie’s lives have intertwined but never touched, but they are finally brought together when Maggie goes in search of her long-lost daughter, reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.
The Home for Unwanted Girls is the best book I’ve read in years! Beautifully written and engaging from the first few pages. Goodman’s character development, plot, and pacing are stellar. The layering of Maggie and Elodie’s chapters added the depth and connection in a book that I love. This story will stay with me for a long time.
Joanna Goodman, thank you for pouring your heart into this book and sharing it with the world. Bravo!