The Orphanage Girls Come Home
By Mary Wood
Orphanage Girls Come Home has friendship amongst dark themes. Find out more in the blurb and what I thought in my review below.
When Amy is chosen to be a part of a programme to resettling displaced children in Canada, her life changes overnight. Her great sadness is having to say goodbye to Ruth and Ellen, the friends who became family to her during the dark days at the orphanage. As she steps on board the ship to Montreal, the promise of a new life lies ahead. But during the long crossing, Amy discovers a terrifying secret.
As the decades pass, Amy’s Canadian experience is far from the life she imagined. She always kept Ruth’s address to hand – longing to return to London and reunite with her dear friends. With the world at war, it seems an impossible dream . . .
Life has its challenges for Ruth, she has it tougher than most, even though she then tries to make a new life for herself.
The setting is Bethnal Green in the Edwardian era. The streets are dangerous! She comes across many people when she breaks away from the orphanage, meets some good people, but the police are on the hunt to return her from whence she came, meaning she needs to hide. She knows she needs to try and hold out until she is of a certain age when she can be left alone and all threat of a return to the orphanage has gone. Meanwhile, her friends are on a resettlement programme to start new lives in Montreal and the opportunity isn’t all that’s cracked up to be. You really feel for her, so far away from what she once knew and the friends she had made in Ruth and Ellen.
The Orphanage Girls Come Home isn’t all as sweet and nice as the title sounds. This streets and the orphanage itself has many dark corners within them. The book has some grit in its themes. There’s abuse and more that goes on throughout the book. Throughout the emotional grimness, however there are glimmers of hope as not all people are bad. There are some who care.
Time passes and it is 1919. The First World War is occurring and things change again. This brings a change in thoughts and some focus on Amy, one of Ruth’s friends from decades ago, and her experiences. It brings trepidation and hope that these, one time friends will be reunited. The question is how and when will that be possible and after such a long time, what that would be like, to see someone after such a long time and in a changing world…
Wood paints the scenes vividly and pulls you into the streets and characters lives to enthrall and show strength through different, sometimes harrowing, life circumstances as well as adding warmth, without it being saccharin.