The Home for Unwanted Girls

The Home for Unwanted Girls

A Novel

Book - 2018
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wendybird May 17, 2019

A well written, wonderful novel, incorporating some neglected & sad history from Quebec. The final chapters could have been a bit more tightly edited, but a small quibble. Look for appearances of the author, come September 2019, as the book is Waterloo Region's One Book One Community choice this year ("OBOC").

May 15, 2019

I couldn't put it down. It's so well written. So sad to think of what some people, children, had to endure. Even sadder, the pain, the Catholic Church, put on the innocent, without a voice. So shameful.

Apr 09, 2019

A truly marvellous and beautifully written book. I read it in three days and had tears in my eyes at more than one point. What a gifted Canadian writer we have in Joanna Goodman. I discovered her by accident and now want to read everything she writes.

Apr 07, 2019

Slightly boring, but I read it all. The ending actually had me moist eyed, but overall boring.

Jan 20, 2019

Twenty years in the making, set in Quebec, it's the story of an unwed mother Maggie and the daughter Elodie she is forced to give up to an orphanage run by nuns. Beautifully written it is essentially a love story. Overriding themes of the tension between the French and the English, the tyranny of the Duplessis government and the church enrich the story and remind the reader what life in Quebec was really like in the fifties and beyond.

Jan 19, 2019

5 Stars. Excellent historical fiction. Great read for quiet times at home, or as a summer, or beach vacation novel. I learned a lot about the terrible occurrences in the 40's, 50's in Quebec, under the Duplessis provincial government, when ..... I don't want to spoil it for you! Shows how a law, probably intended to help, turned bad, fast. Well written, reads itself!

Dec 30, 2018

This is not the usual type of book that I read but the plot intrigued me and I do not regret reading it. It was well written and the more I read about the hardships that each character went through, the more outraged I grew. The political climate of the book is a real part of Canadian history which I didn't know about so I'm glad I learned something new. I recommend this book to people who want to read a book that's raw and emotional, and features characters with depth.

Dec 27, 2018

Not a subject that I wanted to explore. I did not finish the book.

Dec 21, 2018

A heart-rending portrayal of 50's through 70's Quebec. The lives of orphans ruined in order for Duplessis, politicians and the Church to profit from the Federal government grants for asylums. Maggie endures years of sadness over the loss of her daughter, and Elodie lives a life void of affection or education. Whereas with the Reservation 'schools' the government/priests had the greater share of the blame, in this story, the nuns were accessories to these crimes.

I just finished reading The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman for my book club and it was a real page-turner. It’s a fictitious novel based on actual events that occurred in the early 1950’s in Quebec. At the time, many babies born out of wedlock were handed over to orphanages run by Catholic nuns. The province’s Premier of the time, Duplessis signed an order-in-council to turn orphanages into hospitals, thus allowing them to collect federal subsidies. As a result, many of the children in the orphanages were told that they were now mentally deficient, often kept drugged, and made to provide labour in support of the institutions. The children were not schooled, nor were they made available for adoption.

This story follows a 15 year old who finds herself pregnant as well as the story of the child she gives up to one of these orphanages turned hospitals. Mother and daughter never lose hope of reuniting while facing many challenges in their respective lives.

The novel was very well written and I believe it depicted the issues surrounding the times accurately. While it was sometimes difficult to read, it was also eye-opening and engaging. One of the few novels where I’ve shed tears while reading. I highly recommend it. (Submitted by Seline)

Nov 27, 2018

I really enjoyed this book, I finished it in just a few days! It is a great story with elements of history sprinkled within the pages, a part of Canadian history I knew nothing about and was shocked to learn. I would definitely recommend the book! it is a touching and intriguing read, with likeable characters that you'll find yourself rooting for !

Oct 19, 2018

This was a good one and enjoyed the flow of the story and the characters. Yes, the story is somewhat predictable, but you find yourself being hopeful for each of the characters anyway.

Oct 18, 2018

Great book about adoption in the 1950's in Canada.

Oct 06, 2018

A great story that should be read by everyone. It tells of the treatment of girls placed in the care of government homes, how many endured their fates. Great read.

Sep 20, 2018

A really good read. Hard to believe what was done to the children in the orphanages and that they were treated that way here in Canada.

SPL_Sonya Sep 10, 2018

Please see the Summary section for a full review of this book.

Aug 16, 2018

Excellent book about a part of Canadian history that I had never heard about before. Heartbreaking story of a young girl forced to give up her baby at birth, her lifelong yearning to be reunited and the horrific treatment of orphans in Quebec. Highly recommended.

melwyk Aug 15, 2018

Really great historical novel - full of drama, family secrets and strong characters. It highlights a terrible part of Quebec history that many people are unaware of. Great book club choice as there is a ton of discussable content here.

Aug 12, 2018

Heart-wrenching. This is a gripping read of a terrible and depressing time of Quebec history. What Maggie and Elodie endure is almost unbelievable that this book is based on true events in not so recent Canadian history. Well-written and evenly paced, you will not be able to put this book down. Highly recommend.

Jun 30, 2018

Amazing read based on true events....I have learned something new from Canadian history, something that we can not be proud with, but should have been aware of....Learn more about this shameful moment and Duplessis Orphans, before reading this book:

Jun 26, 2018

Definitely a page-turner...couldn't put it down. A sad, heart-wrenching part of Canadian history but an important story to know. A great story woven into this history - well-written!

Jun 10, 2018

4.25 stars. I REALLY enjoyed this story; so many layers of lives and cultural dynamics. I haven't been affected like this by a story in some time. So many unfortunate sorrows and yet, nobody was ill-willed, just products of their time. The author did a spectacular job of tying up loose ends. Lots of tears in the final pages and fair bit of ire for the actions of the Catholic church who willingly caused so much pain.

Jun 04, 2018

Historical fiction centered around Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system during the 1950’s. This is a family drama following an unwed teenager from the 1950-1970’s as she tries to find the daughter she was forced to give up. It also follows her daughter and the terrible conditions she has to endure when the orphanage is converted to a psychiatric hospital. The Duplessis Orphans were approximately 20,000 orphaned children who were falsely certified as mentally ill by the government of the province of Quebec, Canada, and confined to psychiatric institutions. This came about because psychiatric hospitals received more funding than orphanages. The story also shows the divide between the French and the English in Quebec during this time period.

May 28, 2018

Really enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down.

May 25, 2018

This is a novel and the characters are imagined, however the actions in it and the historical facts, are based on real events and true happenings. It's the story of a young woman (15 in 1950), who lives in a small Quebec town, is pregnant and is forced by her family to give up her baby to the orphanage run by the Catholic church in order to save her reputation (and theirs). This is a very strong book, featuring the love (and animosity) of family, the mistakes in judgment we can make when we are scared and not brave enough to stand up for ourselves and do what a generous heart would insist upon. It's an indictment regarding the way some members of the Catholic church utilized their positions to wreak havoc and cruelty on the lives of those dependent on them, stories which we hear all too often still. The suffering so many orphans went through are no different from the horrifying abuses suffered by so many Aboriginal children in the residential school systems of the time. It's very difficult to process how members of the Church (nuns) and doctors at the time, could have perpetrated this type of emotional and physical abuse, somehow justifying it to themselves. An excellent book.

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