The Home for Unwanted Girls

The Home for Unwanted Girls Review

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.

Title:The Home for Unwanted Girls
Edition Language:English

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Angela M

    3.5 stars rounded up.Joanna Goodman does not shy away from focusing on some controversial things that happened in Canada’s history in this moving novel. She presents the divide between English and F...

  • Eden Church

    Joanna Goodman has written a beautiful novel containing the entire range of emotions experienced by the human heart. The Home for Unwanted Girls tells the story of Quebec in the 1950s-1970s, but more ...

  • Maureen Timerman

    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 li...

  • Libby Chester

    3.5 stars ‘The Home for Unwanted Girls’ by Joanna Goodman is based upon a tragic occurrence in Canada’s history. Duplessis orphans were sent to mental institutions as their reclassification woul...

  • Anna

    Maggie Harper lives in a rural community in Quebec during the 1950s. Her father is English and her mother is French. Their marriage is complicated and not particularly happy. Her father runs a Seed St...

  • joyce g

    Choices made, good or bad. This story flew by....

  • Kristen Beverly

    The first part of this book is pretty tough to read- because of the content. An important story to be told, for sure. It’s just a tough one to finish and say “I loved it!”, again because of the ...

  • Pat

    This is a very well-written novel, made all the more riveting since it is based on true events. It takes place in the Canadian province of Quebec in the mid-20th century where there is a long-standing...

  • Shilpa

    Greed is the ugly underbelly which society cannot toss aside, and with the choice placed before them, the impoverished orphanages in Quebec see their opportunity for getting a slice of that pie. This ...

  • Joelle Baugher

    Honestly I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to keep being immersed in Maggie’s life and felt like I was living it with her. Beautifully written. ...