Friday, July 21, 2017

Review and Giveaway: "Lilli de Jong" by Janet Benton

Synopsis: A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family’s home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. “So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”

My Thoughts:  I've been in a terrible reading rut lately so I was looking forward to picking this book up. I've read a lot of good things about it over the past couple of months and I must say, this book definitely lives up to the hype.  The writing is quite lovely and the story is so very good.

I've never read a story quite like this one.  It is told from the point of view of Lilli who keeps a diary recording her life in a Quaker group and her time in a home for unwed mothers.  She has such a passion for writing and it adds a lot to the story to hear it told in the main character's own words. 

Lilli's story really showcased the struggles unwed mothers faced at the end of the 19th century.    Everything about Lilli's life was precarious, she had to balance finding ways to make sure her daughter was safe while also trying to keep up with her job responsibilities.  I loved her strength and devotion to her daughter.  And really, it seemed like Lilli was one of the lucky ones; other women she knew ended up in some bad situations and their babies didn't stand a chance.  It also told of the limits placed on women and the expectations people had of them based on their situation.  At every turn, the reader was shown how limited a woman's options were. 

Lilli de Jong is an excellent book and I would really recommend it to anyone.  It's definitely a page turner, I couldn't believe how fast I zoomed through it!  4 stars.

About the Author:
 
 Janet Benton’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has co-written and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and for decades she has taught writing and helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit Janet Benton’s website for more information and updates. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away TWO Notebooks featuring quotes from Lilli de Jong! Notebooks are spiral-bound (4×6 inches) with 50 blank pages. To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Enter the giveaway here!
 

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