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The home for unwanted girls: a novel
2018
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Maggie (Female), Unwed mother, Forced by her family to give up her baby daughter
Gabriel (Male), French, Maggie's boyfriend
Elodie (Female), Orphan, Taken from her mother; put in an orphanage
Genre
Fiction
Domestic
Historical
Topics
Mothers and daughters
Abused women
Unwed mothers
Adoption
Businessmen
Setting
Quebec - Canada
Time Period
1950s-1970s -- 20th century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Goodman (The Finishing School) was inspired in part by her mother's story for this novel set in 1950s Quebec. At 15, Maggie becomes pregnant, though she's unsure if the child is her boyfriend Gabriel's or from being raped by her uncle. Her English-speaking family separates her from the French -Gabriel, refusing to believe her story of abuse. After giving birth, Maggie is forced to give up daughter Elodie for adoption, and the baby is immediately taken to one of many church-run orphanages in Quebec. Shortly after, owing to a new law providing more funds for psychiatric hospitals, the province's orphanages are remade as mental wards, its residents declared unfit for society, eliminating the need for education or adoption. Growing up, Elodie endures this cruel policy until she is released at age 17. Maggie marries an English businessman in Montreal, trying to live quietly while not forgetting her daughter. And then Gabriel comes back into her life. VERDICT Goodman's solid historical novel highlights social conditions in Quebec from the 1950s to 1970s, with complex characters and the conflict between the French and English handled realistically. While the main story line focuses on Maggie and Elodie's search for each other, subplots add extra interest. For those who appreciated Helen Edwards and Jenny Lee Smith's My Secret Sister or the film Philomena.-Melanie -Kindrachuk, Stratford P.L., Ont. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Goodman (The Finishing School) immerses readers in post-WWII Quebec, where hostilities divide French- and English-speakers, in this moving if at times predictable coming-of-age novel. The daughter of a once-impoverished French woman and a middle-class English-speaking father, 15-year-old Maggie Hughes chooses to be English. Despite her father's warnings that French boys are poor, "don't finish school," and have rotten teeth by 40, Maggie falls in love with Gabriel Phénix, the humble French boy living in a crammed shack on the cornfield bordering her family's property. Their brief summer romance comes to an end when Maggie discovers she's pregnant and her parents give her two options-give her baby to an orphanage or live in poverty with Gabriel. Fear of being disowned by her family leads Maggie to give up her daughter, Elodie. As the years pass, Maggie's decision never ceases to haunt her, especially when she discovers that orphanages are being converted into mental institutions. While the third-person perspective works well for Maggie's character, it comes off as unrealistic and forced in chapters about the younger Elodie ("She's old enough and clever enough to understand that life as she knew it is over"). Still, Goodman writes with passion about a dark episode in Quebec's recent past. Agent: Beverly Slopen, Beverly Slopen Literary (Canada). (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
<p>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.</p> <p>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'.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
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