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The Home for Unwanted Girls

Written by: Joanna Goodman
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (168 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Philomena meets The 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 15, 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 17, 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.

©2018 Joanna Goodman (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Love story unimaginative

While Elodie's story moved me, her parents storyline was unimaginative and stereotypical. It would have been great if the love story was more developed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

loved the book esp because its based on true facts. loved the narrators voice also thank you

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good but a little rushed

Felt a few details were skipped over and the story rushed ahead but generally a good but tragic story. Makes you feel angry along side the daughter. would have liked to see the nuns get theirs! Can never tell if characters are supposed to be speaking French.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Very Beautiful Story

I listened to this story with My Daughter. We both cried and were grateful for our relationship. The writing is poetic but very clear. Sadness and redemption.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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learn and be entertained

French Canadian history told with heart and tears. I would recommend it as an Audio book but I don't think I would have read it because of it's predictability.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Must read!!

This was ultimately the best book I have ever come across. Great story about love, regret, family and strength. Bravo Joanna Goodman!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Was a Little Disappointed

I was really hoping to like this book, but struggled to finish. I found it extremely hard to connect to any character and found the book was very all over the place and skipped to one event to the next.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unbelievable heart breaking, but full of hope

I loved this book! What a heart breaking but hopeful story. I couldn’t stop listening to it. It’s one of those stories that grabs you and you can’t put it out. The narrator did an outstanding job. It’s one of the best narrators I’ve come across thus far.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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couldn't stop listening

loved this book full of fact and fiction. a powerful story about a quebecois family and duplessis' horrible decision to convert orphanages to asylums in the 50s.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

excellent and heart breaking

amazing. the narrator was well chosen and she does a brilliant job of making the characters come to life. the writing is well done as well and the story is so tragic and yet happens again and again in our world. a great book!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Claudia D. Nichol
  • 2018-05-01

Sad story

Difficult to hear but unable to stop listening to the story. I have read many stories about orphans and adoptions and some of my first cousins were adopted. They are our family and we wouldn't be a complete family without them.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nevada
  • 2018-04-23

Is this a true story?

I absolutely love this book it is intriguing, dynamic and fascinating. I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. This is not my go to genre. I normally read urban fiction, love stories and memoirs. My favorite part is the two girls eating at the restaurant. It is so dramatic and I can feel the excitement. What I like about the book (this won’t make sense unless you read the book but…) is the following of the mother and daughter separately but during the same time. I also like that it doesn’t appear to be a work of fiction. I was enthralled and anticipating every new turn. I also can relate to a mother’s love of a child not in her care. I will say no more as not to spoil the book for others. I will end with this, I have never wanted to get to the end of a book so bad and wanting it to never end at the same time.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jason E Burgher
  • 2018-04-26

Best book I have read this year!!!!!!!!

I am in tears, this book was so great, and sad....... dont want to give anything away. READ IT PLEASE!!!!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Camille
  • 2018-12-12

Simply Fabulous

This story was invigorating, tear-jerking, and a definite "ear" turner! I didn't want it to end.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ivy
  • 2018-12-11

Haunting and Emotional Read

This story this book tells took me off guard. It was a more haunting than "Before We Were Yours" but captures the horrificness of a similar orphan scandal in the 1950 era of Canada. The tale was emotional and a quick read. It took me about 1/3 of the book to get fully immersed in the story. It captures the reality that circumstance, family and cultural values play in decision making. The book explores the lifelong emotional impact those decisions make. The ending was happy and story well written.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah D
  • 2018-11-21

Wonderful!

Heart-wrenching and beautifully told, This story draws you in from the very beginning! The performance was perfect!!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • KW
  • 2018-11-11

Little known history, well worth the read

I loved this book. It reminded me of other stories that are based on less known historical facts, such as Orphan Train and Before We Were Yours. This book is set in Quebec tells the story of Maggie from when she was a young girl with a crush on the less well-off French boy next door until she is a grown woman. It also tells the story of Elodie, the child that Maggie is forced to give away when she is a teenager. Told from both perspectives and spanning 25+ years, this book is well worth a read. #DualPOV #Quebec #HistoricalFiction #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Notimportant
  • 2018-10-08

I couldn't finish this book

This book was so incredibly bleak. I only made it about 3/4 through and had to quit. There was just one tragedy after another with very little happiness. The Narrator was excellent though.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • K.E.
  • 2018-10-04

a story that takes you on a whirlwind journey

Loved this story. The courage, strong will and determination of Maggie allows you to forgive her for her flaws and keeps you cheering for her happy ending. My heart still hurts for their struggles and injustices. I hope to read again soon.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sharon Beaumont
  • 2018-09-13

French accents were distracting.

Although I enjoyed the story, the French accents were wrong and it made it hard to listen. As a bilingual Montrealer, I can tell you, when francophones speak English, they do not sound like this, the accents in this rendition were inconsistent. It would have been more enjoyable to not try to emulate in this case.