The Forgotten Daughter by Joanna Goodman

Lindsay’s review

An informative, eye-opening look into French-Canadian history, the Duplessis Orphans and Quebec’s fight to gain independence.

1990’s: Veronique’s father is the infamous Leo Fortin, a notorious FLQ leader who spent a decade in jail for killing a prominent politician during a political standoff in the 1970’s. Vero has grown up in the shadow of her fathers extreme separatist image — always expected to follow in his footsteps. Vero meets and falls in love with James Phenix, a hard working journalist whose job is to follow the politics of Quebec separating from Canada which he strongly disagrees with. Though Vero and James have extreme opposing political views, their love is strong and passionate and they vow to not let politics stand in their way. James sister, Elodie, is one of the Duplessis Orphans who has reentered society after years of abuse and hardships while under the care of the nuns in the orphanage-turned-asylum.

In Goodman’s previous novel, Home For Unwanted Girls, she offers an intimate look into the Quebec governments decision to turn orphanages into mental institutions in order to gain more money per patient. This novel is somewhat of a continuation of that story (yet not a series) incorporating the long term struggles and suffering those innocent orphans faced while locked away and hardships once released into society with no education or training. I strongly recommend reading that novel before this one to give insight into the history of this time.

This was an informative, insightful novel that was heavy on political detail. It was an eye-opening look at this time in Canadian history which I appreciate learning more about. However, I found the depressing and somber tone of the storyline outweighed my personal investment and connection and I didn’t particularly “like” any of the characters. The dark and somber feeling made it feel more drawn out and lengthy. I found that there were several situations where characters were unrealistically forgiving. This took away from my investment in the story and kept me at a distance from the storyline.

A main takeaway for me from this story is the amount of extreme hatred that can be passed down through generations. This is so very upsetting and frustrating and unfortunately is still completely relevant in our present world.

Overall, this was a heavily detailed look into this time in our history which I was thankful to learn more about. It was more of an educational read rather than an enjoyable one.

Brenda’s review

The Forgotten Daughter explores the lives of two different women divided by their past, passionate about their causes and goals, and united by their love and friendship. This was the heart of the story for me, and I loved the dynamics between the characters. Veronique is the daughter of a radical separatist convicted of murdering a politician. She finds love with Elodie’s brother James who opposes separatism. The story delves deep into the political side more than I expected. Even though I liked learning more about Quebec’s history with separatism, it felt more like being told history rather than experiencing the conflicts with characters. I found it a bit overwhelming at times.

Joanna Goodman takes us to the streets of Montreal with the characters, and I enjoyed seeing the names of the neighborhoods and streets. It felt like I was pulled right into the story with the characters.

Things did wrap a little too easily for me in the end however, with the dark tone of the story, it was a brighter way to end the story that should appeal to many readers.

We received copies from the publisher through Edelweiss.

6 thoughts on “The Forgotten Daughter by Joanna Goodman”

  1. I really enjoyed Home For Unwanted Girls and learned a lot about what was happening at that time, in an enjoyable way. Not sure about this one. Nice, Honest reviews ladies.

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    1. Thank you, Carla! I think it is quite different from Unwanted with the way it is written. A little more telling and drama but still a good one! If you do try it I hope it works out for you!

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