I finally understood what my fortune meant….I was bone and skin and earth and sky. Death was not literal, Time was infinite, my Existence..eternal.
Set in the early 1900s, a time of great change and social reforms, The Girls With No Names is the story of young girls, some wealthy and other travelers or from among the working poor. It is a brilliant example of all that was wonderful and horrific about “the gilded age.”
Luella and Effie Tildon are children from a wealthier family. Their lives are spent in school, wandering the land around their home and obeying the strict rules set forth by their parents. They know that if they don’t obey these rules they will be sent to the House of Mercy, a work house wayward girls. The institution was meant to be home for young women without support or who were unmarried and pregnant. What it became was a place for men to send women and girls who didn’t conform to the “rules.” A house of horror, hunger, torture and worse, the House of Mercy was used as a cautionary reminder for all females to obey. When Luella discovers a secret her father is hiding, she begins to rebel against him to the point that, when she disappears, Effie immediately assumes Luella has been banished to the House of Mercy. Effie, who has a debilitating heart condition, decides she will find a way to get sent to the house so that Luella will not be alone. What transpires is a horror show for the young girl and for all of the girls held captive within those walls.
Serena Burdick has woven together a story of the rich and the poor, of the Suffragette movement, of work houses run by “the church”, of an age that glorified the male while subjugating women. The stories of these young women is one of friendship, love, bravery and hope. It is, by far, one of the most remarkable stories I have read and, sadly, it is based on the true stories of the House of Mercy in Innwood Park.
The Girls With No Names is a cautionary reminder about how new and how fleeting our rights as women actually are or could be, a wake up call for women around the world.
#Netgalley, #Harlequin-ParkRow and @SerenaBurkick – thank you!