I am delighted to share my review today for The Orphanage Girls by Mary Wood. I have read and always loved this author’s books and also the books she writes under Maggie Mason.
My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my wonderful PB copy of the book from the publisher – Pan Macmillan.
Children deserve a family to call their own.
Ruth dares to dream of another life – far away from the horrors within the walls of Bethnal Green’s infamous orphanage. Luckily she has her friends, Amy and Ellen – but she can’t keep them safe, and the suffering is only getting worse. Surely there must be a way out of here?
But when Ruth breaks free from the shackles of confinement and sets out into East London, hoping to make a new life for herself, she finds that, for a girl with nowhere to turn, life can be just as tough on the outside.
Bett keeps order in this unruly part of the East End – and takes Ruth under her wing alongside orphanage escapee Robbie. But it is Rebekah, a kindly woman, who offers Ruth and Robbie a home – something neither has ever known. Yet even these two stalwart women cannot protect them when the police learn of an orphan on the run. It is then that Ruth must do everything in her power to hide.
Her life – and those of the friends she left behind at the orphanage – depends on it.
I have read and enjoyed several books by this author and I know I am going to be on a heart-warming and heart-breaking journey. This book was definitely that.
The author gets straight to it with this story of Ruth Faith. An orphan in Bethnal Green’s Orphanage. It should be a place of security but not so in this case. Set in the early 1900s the author relates how orphans were treated by the staff, how they are seen to be the lowest of the low and are abused, tortured and sometimes worse!
The one thing that gives Ruth hope is that she is almost at an age to leave the home for good. She can then find work and a place to live for her fellow friends at the orphanage. However, Ruth needs to survive to stand any chance of starting a new life.
The author has once again created a story that is heartbreaking but also one that is full of hope. SHe does write some amazing sagas and I think this one is one of the tougher ones as far as the content is concerned. I am aware of the history of orphanages and how life was almost too much for its innocent residents. The author has captured the main fears, challenges, difficulties and so much more as she tells the story of Ruth and her friends.
This isn’t just about Ruth, although she is the main focus. There are several other characters such as Robbie, Hettie, Horacio, Rebekah, Bett and many more. As this is set in London, the author brings in the Cockney pride and the sense of looking out for each other. It gives some of the characters a real boost instead of feeling alone and out on a limb.
This is a fabulous read, yes it does have some tough moments but the author also brings so many other things into her story. There are social expectations, a sense of family, and community spirit but also racism, abuse, corruption and other awful things. I will say though, that the author doesn’t linger too much or over-describe things, enough to make you aware.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, sagas and stories that revolve around small close-knit communities then this is a book for you. If you have read any of this author’s previous books and enjoyed them, then you know you are getting to enjoy this one as well. It is a book I would definitely recommend.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Maidstone, Kent, in 1945, the thirteenth child of fifteen children, Mary’s family settled in Leicestershire after the war ended.
Mary married young and now, after 54 years of happy marriage, four children, 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, Mary and her husband live in Blackpool, United Kingdom during the summer and Spain during the winter – a place that Mary calls, ‘her writing retreat’.
After many jobs from cleaning to catering, all chosen to fit in with bringing up her family, and boost the family money-pot, Mary ended her 9 – 5 working days as a Probation Service Officer, a job that showed her another side to life, and which influences her writing, bringing a realism and grittiness to her novels
Mary first put pen to paper, in 1989, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she finally found some success by self-publishing on kindle.
Being spotted by an editor at Pan Macmillan in 2013, finally saw Mary reach her publishing dream.
When not writing, Mary enjoys family time, reading, eating out, and gardening.
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