The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
When I saw that beautiful, intriguing and haunting cover I knew I had to read this one. Just looking at the cover brought on some emotion. Not really knowing what the story was about it did take me a while to finally read it, but I have to say that it worked out well because when I did read this one the timing was perfect. We read this one in our Traveling Friends Goodreads Reading group. This one made for a really great and interesting discussion amongst us. So much to talk about with this story and we really appreciated being able to discuss this one together.
The Home for Unwanted Girls is a compelling and heartbreaking family saga that focuses on historical events and a scandal in a Canadian province of Quebec. It’s not something that I think is well known and Joanna Goodman who was inspired by her Mother digs into some history here with some hostilities between French and English speaking Canadians.
Along with the hostilities that divided French and English speaking Canadians, Joanna Goodman brings to light a dark time in Quebec’s past and one of the darkest scandals involving money and religion. Through one of our main characters here with Elodie, we are shown the cruelty, abuse and conditions orphans lived in while under the care of nuns. Goodman gives a voice to the victims of this scandal through Elodie, allowing us to feel so many emotions for them while reading this story. It also allowed us to learn something we haven’t heard of before.
We were immediately drawn into the complex and intriguing side of the family saga with Maggie and her family’s story and decisions that were forced on her by her family, leaving us with so much to discuss. We question their decisions and reasons and tried to understand the different sides we were shown. At the final discussion, we used the questions provided by the publisher and that really gave us so much to think about and discuss really enhancing our discussion.
We highly recommend this story to everyone who loves historical fiction based on real events. We also highly recommend to reading groups as there is just so much to discuss with this one. We do want to offer a caution here because of the abuse and there are some upsetting conditions to this story.
THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS by JOANNA GOODMAN was such a moving, heart-wrenching, and riveting historical fiction novel that had quite the emotionally gripping story. This book literally crushed me and made me feel so many different emotions while reading it.
Some of the subject matter and historical facts that were focused on here in this novel was absolutely unconscionable and had me so angry. Being from Canada there were some events that I was aware of but some that I wasn’t and it was definitely an eye-opening experience for me reading this novel. I really enjoyed reading and learning a part of our history that I wasn’t aware of.
JOANNA GOODMAN delivers an intriguing, beautifully written and suspenseful read here with complex and well-developed characters. The story is told from alternating points of view between that of Maggie who was forced to give up her child at the age of 15 and Elodie her daughter who grew up in an orphanage. I was thoroughly taken by both of these emotional perspectives equally and was so hoping that mother and daughter would once again be reunited.
Learning that this book was based on the author’s mother just made this story even more thought-provoking, touching and heartbreaking. This was definitely an emotionally tough book for me to read but regardless an excellent one.
This story ripped my heart out. It made me angry, hopeful, frustrated. It had me rooting for these characters, holding my breath and crossing my fingers for a positive outcome. It exhausted me emotionally (in the best way possible). Simply stated – I adored this book!
This novel revolves around Maggie Hughes who, at fifteen, becomes pregnant and is forced by her parents to give her baby daughter, Elodie, up. We follow Maggie through years of separation from and longing for Elodie, where each and every day is haunted by thoughts as to where Elodie is and what kind of life she could be living.
I loved Maggie! Her character touched my heart in so many ways. The author, Joanna Goodman, does an impeccable job creating such vivid, real and relatable characters. I was drawn into their lives and situations, questioning my own thoughts and feelings several times along the journey. The book unravels through two perspectives, Maggie and Elodie, each adding a beautiful layer of emotion and intrigue. I loved them both and thought the novel flowed seamlessly and at the perfect pace.
To find out that this story was based on the author’s mother made it even more powerful for me. I look forward to reading more from this author!
From Jonetta’s review
The story also exposed the ethnic divide between the English speaking citizens and the French. It was particularly awful to witness Maggie’s father’s hypocrisy against the French given his own wife’s and children’s heritage. Also, it was a political decision that forced the orphanages to become psychiatric hospitals without any real consideration of the fates of those children who were then declared mentally ill. These are true events in Canadian history that I found educational.
I really enjoyed this story for the fictional aspects as well as the historical context, beginning in the 1950s. Maggie’s quest to find her daughter was frustrating and heartbreaking and Elodie’s never-ending hope that she would find her family was what almost brought me to tears. Both women’s triumph in the midst of adversity was so admirable. Saskia Maarleveld was extraordinary in her narration, handling accents with perfection (as least to my ear) and making the characters come to life. I highly recommend the audio version and this story. It wasn’t always light but it was always honest. 4.5 stars For Jonetta’s full review
Cover: Eye-catching, appealing, and immediately had me intrigued. An extremely fitting representation to the storyline.
Title: Intriguing, sad, fits the story so well and love how it plays so meaningfully into the story.
Writing/Prose: beautiful, engaging, and empathically written.
Plot: Provocative, captivating, steady-paced, held my attention and extremely enjoyable.
Ending: Hopeful, touching, and satisfying.
Overall: A fantastic, emotional, important, memorable, and heartfelt read! Would highly recommend!
Have you read this one? Want to read it? Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you!