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The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets

The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets

by Sarah Miller
The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets

The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets

by Sarah Miller


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In this riveting, beyond-belief true story from the author of The Borden Murders, meet the five children who captivated the entire world.

When the Dionne Quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, weighing a grand total of just over 13 pounds, no one expected them to live so much as an hour. Overnight, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne mesmerized the globe, defying medical history with every breath they took. In an effort to protect them from hucksters and showmen, the Ontario government took custody of the five identical babies, sequestering them in a private, custom-built hospital across the road from their family--and then, in a stunning act of hypocrisy, proceeded to exploit them for the next nine years. The Dionne Quintuplets became a more popular attraction than Niagara Falls, ogled through one-way screens by sightseers as they splashed in their wading pool at the center of a tourist hotspot known as Quintland. Here, Sarah Miller reconstructs their unprecedented upbringing with fresh depth and subtlety, bringing to new light their resilience and the indelible bond of their unique sisterhood.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524713812
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 08/27/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 222,663
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Sarah Miller is the author of the historical fiction novels Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller, which was called “an accomplished debut” in a starred review from Booklist and was named an ALA–ALSC Notable Children’s Book, and The Lost Crown, a novel hailed as “fascinating” in a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and named an ALA–YALSA Best Book for Young Adults.

Read an Excerpt

November 1943
In an empty nursery, behind two woven wire fences topped with barbed wire, five nine-year-old girls waited for their father. Five suitcases sat alongside them. Five smiling Shirley Temple dolls were clutched in their arms. Yvonne stared out the window at the yellow brick mansion up the hill. Annette quietly seethed, pretending not to be afraid. Cécile sat in a corner, rocking her doll. Émilie prayed that it was all just a bad dream. Marie tried to tell a silly story, but no one laughed.
At the sound of their father’s footsteps in the hall, all five sisters hugged their Shirley Temples closer to their chests. The moment they dreaded had come.
For the first time in their lives, the Dionne Quintuplets were going home.
Oliva Dionne did not speak as he and his five identical daughters walked through the hospital’s guarded gate, down the road, and through another gate that led to the colossal Georgian house that was to be their new home. He did not lead them up the steps to the grand front door. Instead, he entered through a service door into the kitchen. Yvonne followed first, trying to be brave for her sisters’ sake. Though Yvonne was no more than a few minutes older than Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie, she had acted the part of the little mother since she was a toddler. For nine years Mr. Dionne had battled with the government to unite his family under a single roof. Now that his triumphant moment had arrived, the man who had once crawled through a drainpipe to elude hospital guards just so he could glimpse his five famous babies through a window spoke a single sentence.
“The little girls are here,” he told his wife, and continued into the house, leaving his daughters standing in the unfamiliar kitchen with their dolls and suitcases.
“Bonsoir, Mom,” Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie said, greeting their mother in a mixture of French and English.
“Supper will be ready soon,” Mrs. Dionne replied in French, then called for two of her elder daughters. “Show the little girls around the house,” she instructed.
Without a word, “the little girls” followed as their big sisters pointed into one doorway after another. The living room, the den, the sewing room, their father’s office. Redolent of fresh paint and filled with pristine furniture, the house felt new and sterile, more sterile by far than the hospital that had been their home since they were four months old.
Then they reached the dining room. Like everything else in the house, it was big, in this case big enough to seat fourteen—Mr. and Mrs. Dionne, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, Marie, and their seven brothers and sisters, Ernest, Rose-Marie, Thérèse, Daniel, Pauline, Oliva Jr., and Victor. An archway divided the room in half, with a table on each side. “This side is for our family,” the little girls remembered one of their elder sisters saying. “The other side is for your family.”
Not one of the bewildered nine-year-olds knew what to say.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part 1 1 IN 57,000,000 Births

Chapter 1 Quintuplets Born to Farm Wife 5

Chapter 2 Canadian Woman Gives Birth to Five Girls; All Are Doing Well 15

Chapter 3 Country Doctor Struggles to Save Lives of Canadian Mother and Quintuplet Girls 21

Chapter 4 Progress of Quintuplets Amazes Medical World 28

Chapter 5 Star Sends Assistance to Mother and Five Babes 33

Chapter 6 Quintuplets May Go on Exhibit at Chicago Fair 37

Chapter 7 Quintuplets' Father to Get $100 a Week While All Live 40

Chapter 8 Home Turned into Hospital 46

Chapter 9 Parents of Quintuplets Dazed by Sudden Fame, Offers, Gifts 52

Chapter 10 Too Many Showmen After Quintuplets 57

Chapter 11 Dionnes Now Have to Guard Quintuplets from Tourist Horde 63

Chapter 12 Quintuplet Hospital Started Near Home of Parents 69

Chapter 13 Parents of Babies Plan for Future 79

Chapter 14 Parents' Wishes to Be Ignored 86

Part 2 Quint-Mania

Chapter 15 Ontario Adopts Five World-Famous Little Girls 93

Chapter 16 Most Famous of Mothers One of the Unhappiest 99

Chapter 17 The Private Life of the Dionne Quints 104

Chapter 18 Quins Lose Stage Fright, 2500 Gawkers a Day 109

Chapter 19 Quintuplet Frolics Play to "Standing Room Only" 115

Chapter 20 The Threat to the Quints' Happiness 122

Chapter 21 Dionne Endorsements, Incorporated 127

Chapter 22 Dr. Dafoe Himself 133

Chapter 23 Science Designs a Life for the Dionnes 137

Chapter 24 Home or Science? The Dionnes1 Case Debated 144

Chapter 25 Just One Big Unhappy Family 151

Chapter 26 Guardians of Dionnes Seek Better Relations with Tots' Parents 153

Chapter 27 "Felt Right at Home with King and Queen" 157

Chapter 28 Dionne Suing Dafoe for Libel; New York Photo Basis of Action 166

Chapter 29 Dionne Wins Control over His Five Girls 175

Part 3 Finding Home

Chapter 30 Quints Will Soon Move to New Home 181

Chapter 31 Dionne Quints Get Schoolmates, Nine Specially Selected Girls 194

Chapter 32 Dionne Quints 16 Now, But No Dates, Says Stern Papa 203

Chapter 33 Famous Dionne Quintuplets to Be Separated for First Time This Fall 208

Chapter 34 Four Quints Dry-Eyed and Close to Shock 216

Chapter 35 Four Dionne Sisters Start Life Anew 222

Chapter 36 Boys? Million Dollars? Dionnes Shrug Shoulders 227

Chapter 37 The Dionnes: A Fight for Happiness 234

Chapter 38 Quints' Story Causes New Wound 241

Chapter 39 The Babies of Quintland Now: Broke and Bitter 248

Epilogue: Dionne Visit Creates New Memories 257

Afterword 261

A Note on Dialogue 263

References 265

Acknowledgments 269

Notes 271

Index 301

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