Philomena meets 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 fifteen, 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 seventeen, 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.
About the author
Joanna Goodman's stories have appeared in B & A Fiction, Event, The New Quarterly and The White Wall Review. In 1996 Joanna Goodman was a winner in the Canadian Author's Association Short Fiction Contest. At one time she worked as a journalist for Reuters in Ottawa, and her day job now is co-owner (with her mother) of a bed linen store, Au Lit linens, in Toronto. Since Belle of the Bayou she has written two more novels, You Made Me Love You and Harmony.
“The ending hits a perfect emotional note: bittersweet and honest, comforting and regretful.”
“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.”
Praise for The Finishing School: “Suspenseful…. If your guilty-pleasure reads include elite boarding schools, secret societies, murder, and scandal, this one’s for you.”
“The Finishing School plunges the reader headfirst into a fast-paced, nail-biting mystery that also manages to explore friendship, love, adolescence, family and motherhood. By the time you reach the unexpected ending, you’ll practically be gasping for air.”
Jessica Anya Blau, author of <em>The Trouble with Lexie</em>
“The Finishing School pulls back the curtain to expose a fascinating world of desire, betrayal, and dangerous secrets.”
Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of <em>The Long and Faraway Gone</em>