Home for Unwanted Girls

Home for Unwanted Girls

Book - 2018
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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.
Publisher: New York : Harpercollins Publishers, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062684226
Branch Call Number: FICTION GOODM...J
Characteristics: 364 pages, 23 cm


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Aimee M Trudel
Sep 17, 2019

Jan loved this - Quebec story

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.

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").

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.

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.

Apr 07, 2019

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

Jan 20, 2019

Twenty years in the making, set in Quebec, it's the story of an unwed mother Maggie and the daughter Elodie she is forced to give up to an orphanage run by nuns. Beautifully written it is essentially a love story. Overriding themes of the tension between the French and the English, the tyranny of the Duplessis government and the church enrich the story and remind the reader what life in Quebec was really like in the fifties and beyond.

Jan 19, 2019

5 Stars. Excellent historical fiction. Great read for quiet times at home, or as a summer, or beach vacation novel. I learned a lot about the terrible occurrences in the 40's, 50's in Quebec, under the Duplessis provincial government, when ..... I don't want to spoil it for you! Shows how a law, probably intended to help, turned bad, fast. Well written, reads itself!

Dec 30, 2018

This is not the usual type of book that I read but the plot intrigued me and I do not regret reading it. It was well written and the more I read about the hardships that each character went through, the more outraged I grew. The political climate of the book is a real part of Canadian history which I didn't know about so I'm glad I learned something new. I recommend this book to people who want to read a book that's raw and emotional, and features characters with depth.

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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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