The Home for Unwanted Girls: The heart-wrenching, gripping story of a mother-daughter bond that could not be broken - inspired by true events

The Home for Unwanted Girls: The heart-wrenching, gripping story of a mother-daughter bond that could not be broken - inspired by true events

by Joanna Goodman


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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.

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’.

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.

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.





Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062684226
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/17/2018
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 35,195
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Joanna Goodman lives in Toronto with her husband and two children. Originally from Montreal, she based The Home for Unwanted Girls in part on the story of her mother. She is also the author of The Finishing School.

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The Home for Unwanted Girls: The heart-wrenching, gripping story of a mother-daughter bond that could not be broken - inspired by true events 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous 7 months ago
Great read! I loved Maggie’s and Elodie’s story. So well written.
Anonymous 8 months ago
This book was hard to put down. It was shocking that orphans were declared mentally incompetent as recently as the 1950's +. I had no idea that this had gone on. What an amazing read.
Anonymous 10 months ago
It was an emotional journey with an ending that made me happy.
Anonymous 10 months ago
A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I don’t usually enjoy books written from the two person perspective, I can’t imagine this book being written any other way. I loved the emotional roller coaster it took me on and was sorry when it ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such an amazing story that has probably happened to a lot o f women in those times when having a child was so un acceptable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a well crafted , intelligently written novel based on the author's own mother's life . While the story centers around a heartbreaking tale of Maggie's search for her daughter Elodie, it is also a scathing report of the horrendous conditions some children were subjected to under the auspices of the Canadian government and the Catholic Church . An unforgettable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well told story of a horrible event
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this heart wrenching book.
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
A riveting read. Couldn't put it down. A heartbreaking and heartfelt tale of love lost and found, prejudice and forgiveness. Shows how cruel some people can be in the name of religion and trying to keep their family name unblemished by scandal. I would highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was hard to put down!
LeslieLindsay More than 1 year ago
More than the title suggests, THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS is a multigenerational family saga focusing on historical events in the Canadian Province of Quebec. Inspired by real-life events, the author draws on her mother's childhood and spins a tale that is oh-so-good, but also heartbreaking. In the 1950s, the French and English Canadians tolerate each other at best, but there's hatred brewing under the surface. Maggie Hughes's father has ambitions for his daughter, and they don't include anything to do with the French boy, Gabriel Phenix. But Maggie has other plans. When she gets pregnant at 15 gives birth to Elodie, her parents force her to give up the baby and come back home. Maggie's heart will forever be with Gabriel. Told in alternating POVs between Maggie and her daughter, Elodie, we get a harsh glimpse into both of their lives. Maggie is married to a businessman but the marriage lacks passion. Elodie is being raised in an orphanage at the cruel hands of the nuns until one day, it's decided the orphanage will no longer operate as a school, but a mental institution. Elodie is not mentally ill, she's not 'slow,' and not emotionally disturbed, but she will be if she keeps living this way. Eventually, at seventeen, Elodie is thrust out into the 'real world,' lacking any real skills, experience, or confidence. Meanwhile, Maggie won't rest till she finds the daughter she was forced to give up. THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS is such a terrifically multi-layered tale about tolerance, religion, women's place in society, historical elements, mental health, and so much more. It hit every emotion and will make excellent reading for book groupsas there is plenty to discuss. The writing style reminded me at times of Caroline Leavitt (in the vein of CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD and also INTO THIN AIR) meets PHILOMENA (in the sense of birth mother searching for child she gave up, yet slightly different premise). meets ORPHAN TRAIN (Christina Baker Kline). For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: Special thanks to Harper Collins and the author for this review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story for every women
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
This story takes place in rural Canada, near Montreal, and during a different period, the 1950’s. We are shown a family where there isn’t really a lot of love shown, the parents don’t seem to like one another, he is English and she is French, and like the Province they are like oil and water. A young couple get caught up and the result is an unwanted pregnancy, and at that time it was an embarrassment, and the child was put up for adoption, or so they thought. The author shows us a blight on history, the story is historical in nature as this horrible event really did happen. Oh, so very sad, and when you realize it is true it makes it even worse, and we put faces to this tragedy, and the reason this happened? Greed! Heartbreaking page turner, and then the lies, yes, you will wish harm to the people who claim to be people of the church, they are wolves in sheep clothing for sure. Be careful this one will rip you heart, and have the tissues handy. I received this book through Library Thing and the Publisher Harper Paperbacks, and was not required to give a positive review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this story!!