Lilli de Jong
by Janet Benton
Paperback Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Paperback; 352 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Philadelphia, 1883. Twenty-three-year-old Lilli de Jong is pregnant and alone—abandoned by her lover and banished from her Quaker home. She gives birth at a charity for wronged women, planning to give up the baby. But the power of their bond sets her on a completely unexpected path. Unwed mothers in 1883 face staggering prejudice, yet Lilli refuses to give up her baby girl. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep the two of them alive.
Lilli confides this story to her diary as it unfolds, taking readers from a charity for unwed mothers to a wealthy family’s home and onto the streets of a burgeoning American city. Her story offers a rare and harrowing view into a time when a mother’s milk is crucial for infant survival. Written with startling intimacy and compassion, this accomplished novel is both a rich historical depiction and a testament to the saving force of a woman’s love.
NPR Best Books of 2017
Library Journal Best Historical Fiction 2017
Bustle The 17 Best Debut Novels by Woman in 2017
An Amazon Best Book of May 2017
Semifinalist in historical fiction, Goodreads Choice Awards, 2017
Finalist, David J. Langum Prize in Historical Fiction, 2017
A beautifully written novel that pulled me right in and captivated me until the last page.
The heart wrenching account of a single mother in the 1880’s (which of course was seriously scandalous at this time in history). Lilli de Jong finds herself pregnant and alone at 22 years old. Her fiance, Johan leaves to find work in Pittsburgh and they have discussed how she will join him in a few weeks. I was so mad at him for leaving her after all his promises! When she never hears from him, she decides that she will have to give her baby up for adoption.
I was so invested in her story and felt all her emotions as she tried to hide her pregnancy and find some way out of her impossible situation. How could Johan do this to her! This was such an intense story that my heart would start pounding with shock and fear of what would become of Lilli and her child. The author filled the account with such intricate details and vivid descriptions that I could picture just how destitute her situation was.
Lilli’s baby girl is born in a Philadelphia charity for unwed mothers. She makes a decision to keep her child and her distressing journey begins. How strong and determined she was to keep her baby girl. It is hard to imagine how difficult it was for unwed moms.
I Loved this novel, a must read for fans of the genre and era. Compelling, intense, and memorable. Highly recommend for women’s fiction and historical fiction fans
Praise for Lilli de Jong
“A heartrending debut…Lilli’s inspiring power and touching determination are timeless.”—Publishers Weekly
“Powerful, authentic… A heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“I loved this novel. It’s deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous.”—Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy
“Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute…A gripping read.”—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Piece of the World
“[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow
“A captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother’s love.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader.”—The Millions
“Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr… Stunning!”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Kommandant’s Girl
“Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste
“A stunning ode to motherhood.” —Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children
“A new feminist classic…Benton’s writing is shrewd and beautiful.”—Philly Voice
“Eloquent and powerful.”—HuffPost Books
“This is both a super lush historical novel and an amazing feminist manifesto…Buy it for everyone.”—Book Riot
“You would be hard-pressed to find a more intimate—even revolutionary—depiction of the emotional and sensory experiences of motherhood.”—UMass Magazine
“A brilliantly quiet novel with a spine of steel.”—Read It Forward
“[What a] monumental accomplishment the novel achieves. . . . Benton holds a mirror up to the past and in doing so, illustrates how far we have come as well as how far we have yet to go.”—Kirkus Reviews
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 cowritten 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. For decades she has taught writing at universities and privately and has helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, August 13
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Wednesday, August 15
Review at Cup of Sensibility
Friday, August 17
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Monday, August 20
Feature at Clarissa Reads it All
Tuesday, August 28
Review at Dressed to Read
Friday, August 31
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
Monday, September 3
Review at Oh, October
Friday, September 7
Review at The Book Mind
Tuesday, September 11
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, September 12
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, September 13
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
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