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Monday, December 16, 2019

Historical Novel Another Didn't-Love-It-Didn't-Hate-It Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With an "English" father and a French mother, Maggie Hughes never knows quite who she's supposed to be.  She's well aware that her father does not want her to marry a French boy, but she can't help but be attracted to her neighbor, Gabriel Phénix.  Poor though he may be, he's kind and decent.  When Maggie finds herself pregnant at 15, she's given a choice—marry Gabriel and doom herself to a life of poverty or give up the baby.  She chooses the latter.  As she ages, Maggie's plagued by guilt and a longing to know how her child fared.  When she learns that her infant was placed in a Móntreal orphanage that is being turned into a mental institution, she knows it's time to find her daughter.  She must know what happened to baby Elodie, no matter how awful the truth is ...

I've always been drawn to stories about orphans, adoption, and foster care, even before I became an adoptive mother myself.  So, naturally, I found the premise of The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman intriguing.  I did find the subject of the early orphanage/foster care system in Canada interesting.  Heartbreaking, but interesting.  Unfortunately, most of the characters in this novel are some combination of cold, selfish, fickle, and just generally unlikeable, which makes it really tough to connect with them.  I did care what happened in the story, enough that I finished the book, but overall, I feel very ambivalent about the novel.  It ended up being another didn't-love-it-didn't-hate-it read.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky and a little of The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Home for Unwanted Girls with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

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