The Home for Unwanted Girls

The Home for Unwanted Girls

by Joanna Goodman
  • english-from-canada
  • from-quebec
  • historical
  • upmarket

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this triumphant love story, the lives of two young people are beset by conflicts of class and culture in 1950’s Quebec.

Maggie is the daughter of Wellington Hughes, the “Anglo” who runs a seed business selling mostly to the French-Canadian farmers in the Eastern Townships near Montreal. Her mother Hortense is a French-Canadian who refuses to speak English, but who shares her husband’s ambitions that her children should prosper in the higher status Anglo world. Gabriel Phénix, the boy from the next farm, poor and orphaned, captures Maggie’s heart. When Maggie becomes pregnant at 15, either because of a rape or her love affair with Gabriel, she suffers the full tyranny inflicted by the regime and the Catholic Church. Her baby is taken from her and either sold by the nuns to an American family, or worse, placed in an institution and declared mentally impaired. The government paid more money for wards of hospitals than orphanages. (Based on shockingly true situations in Quebec in the 1950’s, the theft of her child is similar in the experience of Ireland’s Philomena Lee.)

We follow Maggie’s desperate quest to find her daughter Elodie, and Elodie’s painful loss of the family she deserves.


Joanna Goodman, author

Joanna Goodman is the author of four acclaimed novels including the best-selling novel, The Finishing School (HarperCollins). She lives in Toronto with her two children and her husband where they operate upscale retail linen shops Au Lit.


  • Characters who could have easily come across as types or clichés take on a great emotional depth...The ending hits a perfect emotional note: bittersweet and honest, comforting and regretful. - Kirkus Reviews
  • Goodman’s latest is a study of how love persists through the most trying of circumstances. Deep and meaningful, this novel captures the reader’s attention until they’re rewarded with a happy ending. - Booklist
  • A heart-wrenching saga of love and loss that’s not to be missed. - Toronto Star
  • An emotionally raw page-turner than you can’t put down. - Brooklyn Digest

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Beverley Slopen Literary Agency



rights sold: France, The Netherlands, French (North America), English (United States and Canada)

rights available: World

Additional Information

age range: Adult

number of pages: 365

publication date: 04/26/2018

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book