The story takes place in Philadelphia in 1883 and the author was able to write the book in a way that makes you feel like you have traveled back in time.
The protagonist, Lilli de Jong, is in her early 20s when she gets pregnant. Johan – the love of her life – travels to find them a better life. He promises to write as soon as possible with any news, money, and an address for Lilli to meet him.
Born and raised in a Quaker family, and now being a single mother, Lilli is kicked out of her house.
Single mothers were not accepted by society in this time period and Lilli’s only choice is to go to an institution for pregnant women. She would stay there until she gives birth and her baby would be taken away from her.
Lilli meets all kinds of women while she’s in the institution, each with her own story to tell. She writes about her experiences in her diary her love for her baby grows and grows. Meanwhile, she is still hopefully waiting for news about Johan. She has no idea if he is alive or not, or even if he was serious about writing back to her.
When her daughter Charlotte is born, Lilli knows she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her baby. She is offered a job of nursing a wealthy family’s sick baby and that becomes her plan to earn some money and start a new life with Charlotte. Lilli goes through a lot of tough and sad situations in the family’s house.
This is a beautiful book about love between a mother and a daughter; an intensely emotional story that touches on the role of women in the late 19th century.