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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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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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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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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Beautiful story

Heartbreaking and thought provoking this book hits all the right notes. I laughed and cried and yelled with joy.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A "Child of Sin" is Still A Child Worth Loving

It's not unlike the story you've heard so often these days - 15 year old girl gets pregnant, boy doesn't know that his girlfriend is pregnant, girl delivers the baby. In the time of this particular story, 1950, it was extremely uncommon for the baby to go home to stay with the young mother. Maggie gave birth to Elodie who was wisked away to be given up for adoption before Maggie had even recovered from giving birth. Maggie would revisit this day 9 years later thus beginning her search for her daughter. In the meantime, Maggie reconnects with Elodie's father, Gabriel, & the 2 get married & have 2 more children. After the birth of Elodie, we bounce back & forth between Maggie's & Elodie's lives at different points in time & their undying hope that they would one day find each other. In 1974, that day finally comes. The mother & daughter meet, & Elodie is introduced to members of her family one by one starting with her father. Given Elodie's & her daughter Nancy's current living situation, the 2 are invited to move in with the family to begin the process of becoming a completed family.

As heartbreaking as Maggie's, Gabriel's, & Elodie's stories were, I could NOT stop reading. It's the train wreck that you knew was coming but you simply can't look away. And then, while evaluating the damage, you begin to envision how the mess will be cleaned up, whether things can be made whole once again, & will things ever be "normal". The book ends in the way I was hoping - the reunion takes place, but the happiness of the moment does not overshadow the 24 years of devastation & sadness that can never be reclaimed. It spotlights the truth - the past cannot be changed, but we choose which path to take going forward. I like the path that this family is one now.

Age recommendation: 16 & up (mild sexual content, some profanity, child abuse & neglect)

On a scale of 1-10 stars, I give it 10!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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surprising

the book was good. it keep me wondering where we were going.it's a good read.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Predictable Cliche

I wish I knew which reviews I read that made me think I would like this book so I would never rely on them again. From the first chapter you knew exactly where the story was headed, no surprises just completely predictable cliche ridden. The best I can say about it is that I did finish it, but the journey was not pleasant.

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Amazing

I absolutely loved it, I feel like it was a very realistic struggle to find Maggie's daughter but absolutely amazing

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  • 06-15-18

Amazing Story & Phenomenal Narrator

Loved the story - was written well and narrator was a good choice - great accents and emotion!

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Good Book

Although some parts of the book were slow, overall it was good. Heartbreaking and happy! There were several times I cried, knowing the story could be based on true events. I would recommend this book if the reader has a tender heart.