I am still reading my first ebook (using the kindle app for non kindle users on my iPhone): Lilli de Jong. When I first encountered the title on NetGalley, I was intrigued by the cover image and of course since it was a historical novel, so I knew I’d love it.
I’m half way through it and I wish that adult responsibilities wouldn’t prevent me from putting it down!
Lilli de Jong is a young Quaker teacher living with her brother and recently widowed father in 1883 Pennsylvania. An aunt comes to visit and quickly replaces Lilli’s mother and thus progressively ostracizes her new step daughter. Hurt, Lillie finds comfort in her father’s young handsome apprentice who promises her marriage, but then leaves for Philadelphia with her brother before actually marrying her… and before he realizes that she is pregnant.
Excommunicated after her condition is discovered, Lilli travels to Philadelphia to try to find her brother and lover, but is thwarted. She ends up in an institution for unwed mothers fully expecting to give up her baby once born and move on with her life and attempt to return to her former innocence. However, she is inherently honest – with herself and with others. She feels that the path laid in front of her by the institution is deceitful and once she meets her daughter, all bets are off.
She’s now in the midst of trying to support herself in a world that does not support unwed mothers. A world that is full of judgement and cruelty from all classes, and the dangers of wet nurses and “baby farmers.”
I cannot wait to find out if she ever finds her brother or former lover. If she is able to keep her daughter and her virtue, though she has apparently lost some of her faith. Will she reconcile with her father and his wife? Will she end up a prostitute like so many before her who figured out too late how hard it is for a single mother to make a living in the city?
Stay tuned… or pick up the book for yourself!