The Home for Unwanted Girls

The Home for Unwanted Girls

A Novel

Paperback - 2018 | First edition
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"In 1950s Quebec, the 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, Gabriel Phénix. 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 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."--Jacket flap.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. :, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062684226
Branch Call Number: FIC GOO
Characteristics: 364 pages ; 23 cm

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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.

m
mpye
Apr 09, 2019

A truly marvellous and beautifully written book. I read it in three days and had tears in my eyes at more than one point. What a gifted Canadian writer we have in Joanna Goodman. I discovered her by accident and now want to read everything she writes.

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giraffekeeper
Apr 07, 2019

Slightly boring, but I read it all. The ending actually had me moist eyed, but overall boring.

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t3485tank
Oct 31, 2019

t3485tank thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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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.

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