The Home for Unwanted Girls

The Home for Unwanted Girls

A Novel

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
35
1
1
"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 the next farm over. But Maggie's heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents send the baby Elodie to an orphanage where she receives horrible treatment. Seventeen years later, 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."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062834089
Branch Call Number: GOODMAN
Characteristics: 364 pages, 23 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

"One of the few novels where I’ve shed tears while reading." - Seline

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.

Comment
SurreyLibraries_Reads Nov 28, 2018

I just finished reading The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman for my book club and it was a real page-turner. It’s a fictitious novel based on actual events that occurred in the early 1950’s in Quebec. At the time, many babies born out of wedlock were handed over to orphanages run by Cath... Read More »


From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment
z
Zoelexi777
Jul 27, 2020

I loved this book from the very first page until the end. I did not know about the orphanages in Quebec in the 1950’s and the transition to mental hospitals. It was certainly an eye opener. I would definitely recommend this book.

ArapahoeKristy Jul 20, 2020

After a slow start I thoroughly enjoyed this novel based on true events taking place in Canada in the 1950s. At the age of 16, Maggie is forced to give up her baby. Years pass and orphanages are turned into mental institutions so that they qualify for more government funding. Meanwhile, Maggie has begun to search for the baby she wasn't allowed to raise and faces one obstacle after another when she is denied information about her child time and time again.

p
peacebenow
Dec 24, 2019

Orphanages of 50'-70's exposed in Canada. Heart wrenching details of the conditions. All too normal that young women are not educated about their bodies or taught how to traverse the hormonal upswing of puberty. Of course the mid 1900's this education was probably nonexistent almost everywhere not mention methods of preventing pregnancy. Goodman weaves a tale of a family, community of multicultural people and how their lives evolve w/ emphasis on Mother and daughter bonds. and following one's heart.

c
catherinejoy
Nov 29, 2019

Captivating from page one straight through to the end. Highly recommend this book.

s
StrangelyExuberant
Nov 27, 2019

I first heard about the orphanages that changed into mental hospitals and the brutal conditions while attending university a few years ago. This book captured and brought to life the history very well. It brought a life to it that we are omitted from reading about something from "ago." As the heart breaking story unfolds you can't help but feel like you are seeing it through the eyes of the characters. I highly recommend. This is a wonderful example of how historical fiction brings moments of history to life.

a
Aimee M Trudel
Sep 17, 2019

Jan loved this - Quebec story

r
RustyReader9
Aug 13, 2019

The fact that this book is based on true events makes it especially disturbing. This book was an emotional roller coaster and I could not put it down.

s
sylviehoffman
Jul 25, 2019

I couldn't put it down. This story moved me and educated me on a very dark chapter in Canadian history. It's a must read.

wendybird May 17, 2019

A well written, wonderful novel, incorporating some neglected & sad history from Quebec. The final chapters could have been a bit more tightly edited, but a small quibble. Look for appearances of the author, come September 2019, as the book is Waterloo Region's One Book One Community choice this year ("OBOC").

g
Goodbooks04
May 15, 2019

I couldn't put it down. It's so well written. So sad to think of what some people, children, had to endure. Even sadder, the pain, the Catholic Church, put on the innocent, without a voice. So shameful.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
t
t3485tank
Oct 31, 2019

t3485tank thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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.

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 SL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top