Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton
A Novel

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Unfortunately—again, like most tearjerkers—Lilli de Jong relies on plot twists that strain credulity...For all of its genre flaws, this is a story that needs to be told...
-NY Journal of Books

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.”
 

About Janet Benton

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JANET BENTON is a writer, editor, and teacher. She has a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For twenty years she has run an editorial business and a writing workshop in Philadelphia, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.
Author Residence: Philadelphia, PA
 
Published May 16, 2017 by Nan A. Talese. 352 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Lilli de Jong
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NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Fran Hawthorne on May 15 2017

Unfortunately—again, like most tearjerkers—Lilli de Jong relies on plot twists that strain credulity...For all of its genre flaws, this is a story that needs to be told...

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