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The Foundling

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate. It’s 1927 and eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote but scenic institution for me From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate. It’s 1927 and eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote but scenic institution for mentally disabled women called the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She’s immediately in awe of her employer—brilliant, genteel Dr. Agnes Vogel. Dr. Vogel had been the only woman in her class in medical school. As a young psychiatrist she was an outspoken crusader for women’s suffrage. Now, at age forty, Dr. Vogel runs one of the largest and most self-sufficient public asylums for women in the country. Mary deeply admires how dedicated the doctor is to the poor and vulnerable women under her care. Soon after she’s hired, Mary learns that a girl from her childhood orphanage is one of the inmates. Mary remembers Lillian as a beautiful free spirit with a sometimes-tempestuous side. Could she be mentally disabled? When Lillian begs Mary to help her escape, alleging the asylum is not what it seems, Mary is faced with a terrible choice. Should she trust her troubled friend with whom she shares a dark childhood secret? Mary’s decision triggers a hair-raising sequence of events with life-altering consequences for all. Inspired by a true story about the author’s grandmother, The Foundling offers a rare look at a shocking chapter of American history. This gripping page-turner will have readers on the edge of their seats right up to the stunning last page…asking themselves, “Did this really happen here?”


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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate. It’s 1927 and eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote but scenic institution for me From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good House, the story of two friends, raised in the same orphanage, whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when they meet years later at a controversial institution—one as an employee; the other, an inmate. It’s 1927 and eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote but scenic institution for mentally disabled women called the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She’s immediately in awe of her employer—brilliant, genteel Dr. Agnes Vogel. Dr. Vogel had been the only woman in her class in medical school. As a young psychiatrist she was an outspoken crusader for women’s suffrage. Now, at age forty, Dr. Vogel runs one of the largest and most self-sufficient public asylums for women in the country. Mary deeply admires how dedicated the doctor is to the poor and vulnerable women under her care. Soon after she’s hired, Mary learns that a girl from her childhood orphanage is one of the inmates. Mary remembers Lillian as a beautiful free spirit with a sometimes-tempestuous side. Could she be mentally disabled? When Lillian begs Mary to help her escape, alleging the asylum is not what it seems, Mary is faced with a terrible choice. Should she trust her troubled friend with whom she shares a dark childhood secret? Mary’s decision triggers a hair-raising sequence of events with life-altering consequences for all. Inspired by a true story about the author’s grandmother, The Foundling offers a rare look at a shocking chapter of American history. This gripping page-turner will have readers on the edge of their seats right up to the stunning last page…asking themselves, “Did this really happen here?”

30 review for The Foundling

  1. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I will admit to having a fascination with our country’s history with eugenics. The Foundling explores this subject in detail. I didn’t realize the prevalence of how “popular” it was and how many young women were institutionalized to keep them from having children. I certainly didn’t realize that some of the more famous female leaders of the day, like Margaret Sanger, were supporters of the practice. In The Foundling, it’s 1927 and Mary is hired as a secretary at The Nettleton State Village for F I will admit to having a fascination with our country’s history with eugenics. The Foundling explores this subject in detail. I didn’t realize the prevalence of how “popular” it was and how many young women were institutionalized to keep them from having children. I certainly didn’t realize that some of the more famous female leaders of the day, like Margaret Sanger, were supporters of the practice. In The Foundling, it’s 1927 and Mary is hired as a secretary at The Nettleton State Village for Feeble Minded Women of Child Bearing Age. While there, she encounters a young woman who grew up in the same orphanage as Mary. The characters were fully realized and the situations also came across as very depressingly realistic. I really appreciated that Leary put her Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, explaining that her grandmother’s experience was the basis for this story. This book meets my test for good historical fiction. I learned a lot with Leary managing to include the facts into the story without throwing off the pace. It’s obviously well researched. I loved watching Mary’s growing awareness of the situation and her knowledge that Dr. Vogel isn’t the saint she’d initially thought her to be. It’s a story about the courage to do the right thing. “I always believed that heroics were best left to fools and saints.” As the story goes on, the tension really ratchets up. I was dying to know how things would play out. My thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for an advance copy of this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    An expose of the shameful and dark practice of eugenics and the Eugenics Movement in this country in the 1920’s is reflected in this captivating novel. ( https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-eug...). In this story, women are held in an “asylum” against their will, under the guise of being “feeble minded “. Women who were deemed immoral, sometimes sent by their own husbands or family, are essentially imprisoned under horrible conditions until they passed child bearing age. Mary Engle, young and naive An expose of the shameful and dark practice of eugenics and the Eugenics Movement in this country in the 1920’s is reflected in this captivating novel. ( https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-eug...). In this story, women are held in an “asylum” against their will, under the guise of being “feeble minded “. Women who were deemed immoral, sometimes sent by their own husbands or family, are essentially imprisoned under horrible conditions until they passed child bearing age. Mary Engle, young and naive and ambitious, spent years at a Catholic orphanage, and wants to do well in her first job as secretary to the director of the asylum. It’s her coming of age story in a way as she gradually learns what is happening there while trying to save an “inmate” who was at the orphanage with her. I was taken by the story, both the awful history told here and a desire to know the fate of Mary and her friend, Lillian. Sad at times, eye opening, and shocking, but hopeful in many ways. I received an advanced copy of this from Scribner through Edelweiss.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    What is a foundling? An alien? Nope. A foundling is an orphan. At least back in 1927 it was. This is the story of Mary Engle and the opportunity she lands as a secretary, in a highly recognized Pennsylvania institution. The place houses young women who are ‘idiots’, ‘morons’, feeble minded ones. WHAT?! This is what young women were labelled when they didn't conform to the norm. When she recognizes a girl from her childhood there, she realizes there is something mysteriously frightening going on. Yo What is a foundling? An alien? Nope. A foundling is an orphan. At least back in 1927 it was. This is the story of Mary Engle and the opportunity she lands as a secretary, in a highly recognized Pennsylvania institution. The place houses young women who are ‘idiots’, ‘morons’, feeble minded ones. WHAT?! This is what young women were labelled when they didn't conform to the norm. When she recognizes a girl from her childhood there, she realizes there is something mysteriously frightening going on. Young girls imprisoned for incorrect choices made in their formidable years. Now labelled as deviants with low IQs when this in fact, isn’t the case. Then kept there during their childbearing years. A fascinating glimpse into the horrific history of eugenics. A shameful history. This was fast paced. Leary builds the story into heart racing momentum for the second half. 4⭐️

  4. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Just what are your particulars? Where do you hail from? And who are your people? Curious questions that attempt to define all of us in the most innocent of ways. But many aren't able to answer. Their beginnings have no recognizable beginning. That would be the majority of the young girls at St. Catherine Orphanage in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1927. Many were left on the doorstep in the dark of night retrieved by the nuns with no clue as to their names or their parents......just baby bundles with Just what are your particulars? Where do you hail from? And who are your people? Curious questions that attempt to define all of us in the most innocent of ways. But many aren't able to answer. Their beginnings have no recognizable beginning. That would be the majority of the young girls at St. Catherine Orphanage in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1927. Many were left on the doorstep in the dark of night retrieved by the nuns with no clue as to their names or their parents......just baby bundles with their destiny to be determined at a later date. Mary Engle was left at the orphanage by her father when her mother died when she was twelve. He didn't have the means to care for her. She had random visits here and there but no sense of family. She eventually went on to live with an aunt with a heart of stone. Mary attended a typist school where she honed her craft and eventually interviewed with Dr. Agnes Vogel to become a secretary at the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age when she turned eighteen. Yep, you got that title right. Let's crank back the time machine and revisit 1927 when the study of Eugenics was making headlines. Eugenics was a full-out movement to cleanse the human race of the unworthy through genetic screenings, marriage restrictions, segregation, compulsory sterilization, and the institutionalizing of young women deemed mentally incompetent until after their childbearing years. Even the likes of American activist, Margaret Sanger, advocated it in 1922. Well, our Mary Engel is a naive young woman living with the nuns all those years. Her typewriter in Dr. Vogel's office is about the extent of her movement on the grounds of the village. But, little by little, Mary will come upon things that unsettle her. Her strong allegiance to Dr. Vogel keeps her in denial until Mary comes across a young woman she recognizes from her days at the orphanage. Lillian is now a resident of the village. How can that be? The character of Mary did perplex me. Heaven help me, we always arch our backs and judge women "of that day" with 2022 standards. Because of this, Mary can be frustrating. She's gone from the shelter of the orphanage to the golden opportunity of the village by the time she's barely eighteen. Mary is not well-read nor did she even have a boyfriend. Our girl takes people at their word. She respects authority. She was hired on the spot by Dr. Vogel. But the familiarity with Lillian brings this personally to Mary.....even if it means immediate dismissal. The Foundling is a shocker of a story. What's more is that it is based on reflections of the author's grandmother and her experience which are entered in the first pages of the Author's Note. It is appalling to even imagine these travesties against women around the world and, in particular, here in America. We all lose when there is no reverence for humanity no matter what the conditions are surrounding an individual. I received a copy of this novel through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Simon & Schuster and to Ann Leary for the opportunity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    L.A.

    4.5**** Note from the author: "THE FOUNDLING was inspired by a discovery I made about my maternal grandmother, Mary. I knew Mary was raised in an orphanage, but there was no record of her until I found her in a 1930 Federal Census. She was working as a secretary at a place in Pennsylvania called the Laurelton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. At first, I was proud of this grandmother I barely knew. There she was, only seventeen and employed as a stenographer at a place tha 4.5**** Note from the author: "THE FOUNDLING was inspired by a discovery I made about my maternal grandmother, Mary. I knew Mary was raised in an orphanage, but there was no record of her until I found her in a 1930 Federal Census. She was working as a secretary at a place in Pennsylvania called the Laurelton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. At first, I was proud of this grandmother I barely knew. There she was, only seventeen and employed as a stenographer at a place that helped women. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the off-putting name of the place, so I investigated." Inspired by a true story, this shocking chapter of American History during 1913- 1998 makes a gripping page turner. The author's grandmother worked at one of the institutions that housed women between the ages of 16-45 considered of “moral feeblemindedness”. In this historical fiction, the asylum is called Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. The women either defied social norms or their husbands and were involuntarily placed until they could no longer bear children. Some girls were either poor and considered unable to be educated, committed a crime or sexually active and vulnerable. If their husbands no longer wanted them and wanted to remarry, they were allowed to place them in this place and the court allowed it. During this time, the eugenics movement embraced the goal to eliminate undesirable genetics in the human race through selective breeding. Can you believe this happened??? The story begins with the narrator Mary Engle raised at the St. Catherine Orphanage in Scranton, Pennsylvania after her mother died and her dad could not take care of her. At the age of twelve, her dad retrieved her and took her to live with her aunt. Mary was highly educated and skilled to work as a secretary with the classy and prestigious Dr. Agnes Vogel at the Nettleton State Village. She was dedicated to Dr. Vogel and admired her doting abilities for these "less fortunate women". The women were made to work the fields, laundry, cattle and hired out to the wealthy families in town. Mary becomes unsettled by a few instances she witnesses Dr. Vogel cover up. Even more disturbing, she observes one of the "Foundlings" from the orphanage Lillian deemed as feebleminded working on the dairy farm. Mary remembered her as highly intelligent and beautiful. Farther investigation, she learns of darker stories that are appalling and shocking. I could not put it down as Mary digs herself into helping her friend without anyone's knowledge that she knows her because she would be dismissed from her job. The author's note at the beginning of the story about her grandmother opened my eyes to this. There are so many disturbing instances, so I went down a rabbit hole to see actual videos, and images of the history of Laurelton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age in Pennslyvania that was open from 1913 to 1998. It was later opened for men too. It was determined through genetic screenings, segregating and sterilizing it would rid the simple minded people from producing children. This book is an eyeopener and hard to imagine this was ever okay. The author's investigation and research is incredible. Extra note****"One repercussion of the American eugenics movement was what events that later unfolded in Nazi Germany. During World War II, under the direction of Adolf Hitler, thousands of people were sterilized that did not fit his ideal of the Aryan race which eventually evolved to the genocide of millions of Jewish people." (Eugenics, 2017; Farber, 2008) Farber S. A. (2008) U.S. scientists’ role in the eugenics movement (1907-1939): A contemporary biologist’s perspective. Zebrafish, 5(4), 243-245. Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for this title in exchange for my honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    For some reason, I went into this one thinking that it was more of a gothic/horror read - and I was wrong. It's an historical fiction work, with a protagonist based loosely on the author's grandmother and her work at an asylum-type institution. I love a good asylum story, so this wasn't a bad read by any means, but it just didn't totally enthrall me. In 1927, eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at an institution strongly focused on eugenics, called the Nettleton State Vi For some reason, I went into this one thinking that it was more of a gothic/horror read - and I was wrong. It's an historical fiction work, with a protagonist based loosely on the author's grandmother and her work at an asylum-type institution. I love a good asylum story, so this wasn't a bad read by any means, but it just didn't totally enthrall me. In 1927, eighteen-year-old Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at an institution strongly focused on eugenics, called the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age (if that name doesn't say it all ...), which is run by brilliant, beautiful, Dr. Agnes Vogel, and with whom Mary is immediately taken with. Dr. Vogel was an outspoken crusader for women’s suffrage before running the institution, and Mary is in awe of how dedicated Dr. Vogel is to the vulnerable women in her care. Not long after arriving at the institution, Mary sees a patient, Lillian, whom she knew from her childhood. Mary remembers Lillian as a sometimes-troublemaker, but definitely not "feeble minded". Lillian recognizes Mary too and pleads with her to help her escape, telling Mary that the institution is not what it seems. Mary is torn as she and Dr. Vogel have developed a close relationship with future promises of education for Mary, and she doesn't know if she can trust Lillian, as Lillian knows certain things about Mary's life that she worries Lillian will blackmail her with. Ultimately, Mary must make a decision that will have life-altering consequences for the entire institution. I was horrified by the events and corruption that took place at the institution and found those parts of the books unputdownable; however, it was not a quick-paced read at all. Things picked up near the end, but by that time, I was ready to be done with the book. I also had a difficult time feeling any connection whatsoever to Mary. Her opinions didn't make sense for much of the book. I get that she was naïve, but honestly, she was a staunch defender of Dr. Vogel - until a reporter she is interested in, Jake, comes along with different feelings - then Dr. Vogel is a monster (which she was, but still ...). Then she decides Jake is likely using her to get an "in" at the institution, but she still agrees to marry him. She was all over the place, and the majority of her actions did nothing to endear her character to me at all. I hate to be too critical, as I know Leary based Mary's character on her own grandmother, but I'm not sure it had the effect Leary was going for. I wish instead the plot would have delved more into the eugenics side of the institution that the "real life" place was famous for. Still, it is obvious that Leary intensely researched the topic, and that is impressive in itself. Unfortunately, though, the book just didn't really keep my attention. 3 stars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kate Marchand

    Thanks to the publisher for an ARC. Very compelling historical fiction in which the author Ann Leary had a personal connection and to which seemed very well researched. I’ve never read anything from this author before but really enjoyed this read, plan to read her other highly rated books, and felt very informed as well as entertained. Would definitely recommend as a Buy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Margitte

    Published May 31st 2022 Eugenics. Pennsylvannia. 1920s. The novel is losely based on the story of the author's grandmother who worked for the famous Dr. Mary Wolfe - one of the nation's first female psychiatrists. Trudy Engle is the 18 year old protagonist of this novel. In the summer of 1922, at 12 years of age, her father came for her at the orphanage and took her to aunt Kate and uncle Teddy's family to be raised by them. She trained as a secretary and in 1927 through sheer luck landed a job as Published May 31st 2022 Eugenics. Pennsylvannia. 1920s. The novel is losely based on the story of the author's grandmother who worked for the famous Dr. Mary Wolfe - one of the nation's first female psychiatrists. Trudy Engle is the 18 year old protagonist of this novel. In the summer of 1922, at 12 years of age, her father came for her at the orphanage and took her to aunt Kate and uncle Teddy's family to be raised by them. She trained as a secretary and in 1927 through sheer luck landed a job as the secretary of Dr. Agnes Vogel, an outspoken advocate for women's suffrage, founder and superintendent of the Nettleton State Villlage for Feebleminded Women of Child Bearing Age. There are so many elements in this novel that really touched me deeply, despite the tragic history of eugenics and the terrible consequences it would have on generations of people afterwards. The most important one is that it was written in the language of the time, which made the story so much more authentic. Author’s Note I want to add that this novel contains language and attitudes about race, sexuality, and intellectual disabilities that were prevalent in early-twentieth-century America but are certainly offensive by today’s standards. The words feeble-minded, moron, imbecile, and idiot were clinical terms at that time. A side-show: Bonny Sister Rosemary of the St. Catherine's Orphan Asylum in Scanton. She was a major peripheral player in this tale. She introduced Lilian Faust, the second major character of the novel, to the readers. Lilian was a real orphan in her care. And when young Lilian fell out of an elm tree at the orphanage one day and broke her arm, Sister Rosemary used the opportunity to share her own fairy tale with the thirty girls in her care. Owl-eyed and equally open-mouthed, I learnt about poor little Deidre Murphy back in Ireland, who also fell from a tree, but unlike 'thick-brained' Lilian, so said Sister Rosemary, Deidre had a different outcome. See, a ferocious bull─a monster of a bull─ came out of nowhere, lifted little Deidre up and tossed her around like a rag doll in the air. Deidre departed for Heaven to forever reside among the angels. Deidre, said sister Rosemary, did not have Lilian's 'dumb luck''. She did not even have the chance to go to hospital. Young Mary asked herself: I’ve often wondered—do all children have a morbid fascination with the pain, suffering, and misery of other children? Or just orphans? It was beyond fascination with us; we had ghoulish, bloodthirsty little imaginations, and that night we peppered the nun with our usual prompts. "Did she break her neck?" "Did she smash her head on a rock when she landed?" "Did the fall make her brain come out of her ears like your cousin, Sister?" Sister Rosemary, in her own way, and like many of our parents, prepared these little girls for what might lie ahead in their futures with these kind of tales, and then some, such as the Brother Grimm's fairy tales. Sister Rosemary absolutely believed that all foundlings are blessed with good fortune, all of them. She said the girls could ask anybody in Ireland if they they did not believe her. Mary: Sister Rosemary didn’t teach any classes, she only had night duty, and we’d all heard Mother Bea admonish her for telling us stories about fairies, ghosts and other “pagan nonsense.” But we knew Sister’s stories weren’t nonsense—every word was true. She was an ordained nun, and she swore to the heavenly father they were true. “May God strike me dead if I’m telling a lie,” she said. Often. "And she wasn’t talking about strangers, they were people she’d known personally who’d been skewered on fence posts, dragged behind runaway pony carts, drowned, trampled, scalded, smothered, or otherwise destroyed because they’d upset a fairy or banshee. Oh, she’d seen plenty of dark magic back home, Sister Rosemary had." "How we loved Sister Rosemary. After I left the orphanage, I had trouble sleeping in Kate’s cold, silent house, knowing that in a steamy, crowded ward across town, softly whispered stories of angels and mothers drifted from cot to cot long after Sister Rosemary had dozed off in her chair." Mary's life at the village initially began with rose-tinted lenses. She slowly developed friendships, of whom Bertie Nolan would become the most important. Through another friend, in particular Jake Enright, she gained access to the university library in Bernston. Life was on a good track at last. Until she recognized Lilian as an inmate and life would forever be changed. Lilian would cause Mary to toss her rose-tinted glasses out and face the true horror of the eugenics program she unknowingly, and as an inexperienced young woman with little real life skills, supported. Different people influenced her young mind. How could she not admire and trust someone like Dr. Agnes Vogel, the woman who arranged a scholarship for her to attend Bernston College, and who made it her life's mission to rescue 'morally feebleminded' young women from themselves? Her awakening, thanks to Sister Rosemary's tales─which ignited her 'frightful imagination' ─brought challenges and choices, which could have her end up in jail, or as an inmate herself, if her own secrets would surface. Her decisions did not always make sense (bear in mind how young and vulnerable she was), but in the end she had no other choice as the one she ultimately made. Dare I mention that the ending was beautiful, although the journey was hair raising and grim. My word, my own imagination went haywire on me. My heart made a few somersaults in my body. On a wider front, the American version of eugenics fizzled out in the early 1930s. Thank all the planets and all the gods for that. But Hitler, as we know, took it to a much more sinister level in WWII. When I first started reading this novel, the blood, like champagne bubblies, rushed through my body. It was the first time in many many months that I truly wanted to jump out of my skin with excitement. Here was a historical fictional thriller that completely captured me through the prose, plot, characters, and ambiance. I did not want to sleep. I am extremely grateful to the author for not leaving me completely devastated and destroyed at the end. Sister Rosemary's wisdom, bless her beautiful soul, had the last say. Just remember what she said way back yonder: " ... all foundlings are blessed with good fortune, all of them. She said the girls could ask anybody in Ireland if they they did not believe her." With this reminder I'm going to stop. RECOMMENDED (view spoiler)[Here is a gallery of people you did not know supported eugenics NS. Why Hitler is blamed, shatters the brain. He for sure totally lost his mind. But he did not initiate the movement. provides a summary of the eugenics timeline. It started in England and was first introduced by Francis Galton, Cousin of Charles Darwin. (1883) (hide spoiler)]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stacey B

    In her newest book, Ann Leary takes on a topic many people were unaware of, including myself. Based on the subject of eugenics in the USA as well as her grandmother's history, the novel takes place inside an institution for women where you assume it is for mentally unbalanced women. Having met at an orphanage, Mary and Lillian will reconnect by chance years later under shocking circumstances. I have a proclivity for accidental spoilers, but feel I hinted enough at the plot. Let's move on to the In her newest book, Ann Leary takes on a topic many people were unaware of, including myself. Based on the subject of eugenics in the USA as well as her grandmother's history, the novel takes place inside an institution for women where you assume it is for mentally unbalanced women. Having met at an orphanage, Mary and Lillian will reconnect by chance years later under shocking circumstances. I have a proclivity for accidental spoilers, but feel I hinted enough at the plot. Let's move on to the authors talent- This historical novel is a page turner, while her characters are ones we learn to know so well ; I often found myself speaking to them. Ann's gift of prose delivered a stellar read for me with plenty of thought given to the subject. On a different note and on an extremely major european scale, this is exactly what Hitler did during WW2; both sicken me. I have family who settled in Scranton in the late 1800's and surprised this subject never came up during conversations. Having been treated to meet Ann on numerous occasions through a friend of mine, she has an outstanding heart and is full of kindness that shines through her novels. I only wish she had written this book at that time- so much to ask.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    The Foundling is an interesting historical fiction novel set in 1927 when new social ideas and philosophies were circulating and leading to institutional change. Mary Engle, a young, naive 18 year old is the center of this story. She spent most of her childhood at a Catholic orphanage in Scranton, Pennsylvania after her mother’s death. Her father had to travel for work and couldn’t care for a two year old. She lived there for several years, with occasional visits to her father. Then her father r The Foundling is an interesting historical fiction novel set in 1927 when new social ideas and philosophies were circulating and leading to institutional change. Mary Engle, a young, naive 18 year old is the center of this story. She spent most of her childhood at a Catholic orphanage in Scranton, Pennsylvania after her mother’s death. Her father had to travel for work and couldn’t care for a two year old. She lived there for several years, with occasional visits to her father. Then her father removed her to her aunt’s home, a move that seemed to remove promise from her life. Mary received the opportunity to interview for a job as secretary at the Nettleton State Village for Feeble Minded Women of Childbearing Age. She was to work for the renowned Dr. Agnes Vogel, a woman ahead of her time, who had worked for women’s suffrage, succeeded at medical school where women were rarely included and now ran a successful asylum for disabled women. Mary, and I, were to learn quite a lot about the eugenics movement in the United States, a movement that isn’t discussed very often, and then often in vague generalities. Here we see how the philosophy of producing and maintaining a “better” population of people is actually carried out in a society that doesn’t want to resort to killing, how the unwanted can be removed from society. Through a chance encounter, Mary realizes she knows one of the inmates of the village…and she also knows that this woman was not feeble minded when they were at the orphanage together so many years ago. Now her questions begin as she begins to take a closer look at everything around her, even her new hero, Dr, Vogel and the full name of the village. Recommended…this is a very interesting and instructive look at a part of American history that isn’t discussed often. While Mary’s naïveté occasionally bothered me and she seemed a bit slow to catch on, I also feel that could be very true of a young person in her position with minimal life experience. Though she is intelligent, she is very much afraid of making an error or judging incorrectly. She is insecure. It is important to remember that eugenics and other aspects of this philosophy are a part of American history, and have shown up at other times and in other ways during our history. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    Set in the 1920s, The Foundling is about two young girls who meet in an orphanage, then meet again years later at a women’s asylum in Pennsylvania. One is a now the secretary to a female doctor who runs the institution, the other a patient/inmate placed there against her will. This story is shocking, and I was horrified by the ghastly corruption and treatment placed upon women inmates within those walls. The author told a well-written and researched tale of friendship, loyalty, and righting the Set in the 1920s, The Foundling is about two young girls who meet in an orphanage, then meet again years later at a women’s asylum in Pennsylvania. One is a now the secretary to a female doctor who runs the institution, the other a patient/inmate placed there against her will. This story is shocking, and I was horrified by the ghastly corruption and treatment placed upon women inmates within those walls. The author told a well-written and researched tale of friendship, loyalty, and righting the wrongs in an institution that unfortunately didn’t think of these child-bearing aged women being anything but feeble minded. That couldn’t of been farther from the truth. These controversial institutions that primarily focused on eugenics put a large blemish on our history that we sadly still feel the effects of to this day. This is inspired by a true story of the authors grandmother who worked at a similar place. *Thanks to Scribner / Marysue Rucci Books via NetGalley for providing a digital review copy. All opinions are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    The tone of this book was not serious enough for the topic. Eugenics is a horrible and shameful piece of our history and it wasn't portrayed well enough and fell flat. This is based on the author's grandmother which doesn't present her in a favorable light. Mary comes across as self absorbed and lacking any sort of compassion. This was a disappointing read. Thank you Netgalley and Scribner for the ARC. The tone of this book was not serious enough for the topic. Eugenics is a horrible and shameful piece of our history and it wasn't portrayed well enough and fell flat. This is based on the author's grandmother which doesn't present her in a favorable light. Mary comes across as self absorbed and lacking any sort of compassion. This was a disappointing read. Thank you Netgalley and Scribner for the ARC.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Danielle B

    In 1927, Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote institution called, the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. Mary is working for the famous psychiatrist, Dr. Agnes Vogel, who is known as advocate for women in need of help. Mary quickly learns that, Lillian, one of the residents at the institution is familiar to her from her time at an orphanage as a child. They have a bond from their childhood and Lillian soon begs Mary to help plot her escape from In 1927, Mary Engle is hired to work as a secretary at a remote institution called, the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. Mary is working for the famous psychiatrist, Dr. Agnes Vogel, who is known as advocate for women in need of help. Mary quickly learns that, Lillian, one of the residents at the institution is familiar to her from her time at an orphanage as a child. They have a bond from their childhood and Lillian soon begs Mary to help plot her escape from the institution. Lillian claims that there are dark secrets here and she must escape soon! When I found out that this book was inspired by Ann Leary’s genealogy research into her grandmother’s history, my curiosity was piqued. I generally find this sort of historical story to be really interesting, and I was not disappointed. Ann Leary did a great job to bring her grandmother’s history to life! Her intense research into the subject matter shows and her writing is top notch. The was my first Ann Leary book, but will not be my last! Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing for my ARC in exchange for my honest review. This review will be posted to my Instagram Blog (@coffee.break.book.reviews) in the near future.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ionia

    This is a strangely compelling book, for being one without a tremendous amount of action. Ever read one of those books where you immediately know that you dislike one of the characters and that feeling keeps growing throughout the book? This was like that. By the end of the book I wanted to go and kill the doctor myself. Especially after the maid incident. (You'll have to read it to find out.) I really took to a couple of the characters in this story, particularly Lillian. It is great when an au This is a strangely compelling book, for being one without a tremendous amount of action. Ever read one of those books where you immediately know that you dislike one of the characters and that feeling keeps growing throughout the book? This was like that. By the end of the book I wanted to go and kill the doctor myself. Especially after the maid incident. (You'll have to read it to find out.) I really took to a couple of the characters in this story, particularly Lillian. It is great when an author can make you feel a kinship with one of their characters, and even more impressive when it is multiple characters. I also enjoyed the historical setting, and thought it was brilliant that this was based on things that were happening in the past. If you enjoy books with depth, the kind that make you stop and think, this would be an excellent choice. This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  15. 5 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    This is my third book by Ann Leary and as much as I loved both The Good House and The Children this is by far my favourite. This story is so heartbreakingly sad, made even more so by the fact it is based on true events...of the author's grandmother no less. Mary and Bertie were so brave to try and carry out their plan and fight back. That wasn't such an easy thing to do in the 1920s, especially for women. There was so much judgement against women and minorities back then, especiall This is my third book by Ann Leary and as much as I loved both The Good House and The Children this is by far my favourite. This story is so heartbreakingly sad, made even more so by the fact it is based on true events...of the author's grandmother no less. Mary and Bertie were so brave to try and carry out their plan and fight back. That wasn't such an easy thing to do in the 1920s, especially for women. There was so much judgement against women and minorities back then, especially in small towns and counties. So sad that some of these judgements and prejudices still exist today. Ann Leary writes such compelling stories and I was captivated from the start with this one. I felt so many things while reading this, my emotions were all over the place. It's the type of book you want to hug when you are done. I loved the writing, the plot and characters so much and was pleasantly surprised by the ending. What a marvelous read. All. The. Stars. With many thanks to NetGalley, Ann Leary and Simon & Schuster Canada, Scribner / Marysue Rucci Books for the giving of the ARC. #NetGalley

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fictionophile

    Anyone who thinks that the world is in a sorry state now needs to look back in time and realize that the past was far from perfect and had just as many social problems - only different ones. "The Foundling", set in 1927, illuminates just how disenfranchised women were just a century ago. At that time women were mere chattel, and the property of their fathers and/or husbands. They were not allowed to own property, and any property they did have immediately became their husbands upon their marriage Anyone who thinks that the world is in a sorry state now needs to look back in time and realize that the past was far from perfect and had just as many social problems - only different ones. "The Foundling", set in 1927, illuminates just how disenfranchised women were just a century ago. At that time women were mere chattel, and the property of their fathers and/or husbands. They were not allowed to own property, and any property they did have immediately became their husbands upon their marriage.  Those who were privileged enough to be well educated looked down upon those who were less fortunate. The uneducated were deemed 'intellectually deficit' so were 'feebleminded'. Rich and poor were held to different standards. It was a time for labels. Anyone who was not 'normal' was given a label such as moron, idiot, imbecile, etc. Also, anyone who didn't conform to what the powers that be touted to be "American" were labeled as well. Blacks, Jews, Italians, the Irish, and other immigrants were thought of as inferior beings. The rampant and overt prejudice of that time is mind boggling! I found this novel quite challenging to read because of the many injustices portrayed and the warped way of thinking depicted. The story dealt with eugenics - for this was a time when eugenics was thought to be a forward-thinking concept. "It's our sacred duty to preserve the positive attributes of those who founded this country, and not let our population continue to deteriorate through thoughtless pairings of our best young men and women with inferior stock." The novel was well written and obviously well researched. Yes, sadly, there was just such an institution in Laurelton, Pennsylvania in the 1920s. The character of Mary Engle was quite infuriating for me. Though I realized she was young and naive, I thought she was in denial and her thinking was skewed. Some of her thoughts were preposterous. Was she so deluded because she had no other family or support system? She seemed to be willfully ignorant of the most obvious truths. It serves to remind us that narrow-mindedness is a learned behavior - one that can be overcome. Anyone who is interested in the history of women's rights will enjoy this book which puts a fictional veneer over some very real circumstances. Historical fiction that is not always easy to read, but is worth the effort. A well told tale of America's more sordid, dark past.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shirley McAllister

    All the Marys Sad, heartbreaking and filled with love. A story of the fate of women whose life and liberty was held in the hands of those that had no respect nor compassion for them. If you were young and reckless you might end up in the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing age. An institution where less fortunate women, the unwed mothers, the prostitutes, those that were unfortunate to be sent there by husbands and even some that had been sent to the correctional facili All the Marys Sad, heartbreaking and filled with love. A story of the fate of women whose life and liberty was held in the hands of those that had no respect nor compassion for them. If you were young and reckless you might end up in the Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing age. An institution where less fortunate women, the unwed mothers, the prostitutes, those that were unfortunate to be sent there by husbands and even some that had been sent to the correctional facility for crimes. The year is 1927 in Pennsylvania, and women had the right to vote, but men still had the right over their lives, physically, mentally and financially. Once you were deemed feebleminded and sent to the institution you were there until the end of your childbearing year. This was called Eugenics. It means you were kept there to keep you from producing offspring that would also be feebleminded and a drain on society. This is a fictional story of some of those women inspired by the true story of the author's grandmother. Mary Engel in awe of Dr. Agnes Vogel was given a job as a secretary at the Village. As she was working she recognized a former childhood friend who had grown up in the orphanage with her, a girl named Lillian Faust. With help from her friend Bertie who also works at the village, her boyfriend Jake, a reporter and the son of the gatekeeper at the village she helps Lillian escape, not knowing the far reaching consequences that this would cause. It is the first I have heard of this part of history and it is appalling that in the United States of America not only could this happen, but it did happen. It is a story of women of normal ability sent to an institution because of poor choices they made and labeled as feebleminded. They were worked as slaves and treated cruelly by their keepers. It is very sad in part and very happy in others. You will laugh and you will cry but you will not be able to put this book down and you will remember it long after you have finished the last page. I found it a good read and I would recommend it. Thanks to Ann Leary for writing a great story, to Scribner Publishing for publishing it and to NetGalley for making it available to me to read and review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

    I’ve enjoyed all of Ann Leary’s books and was fortunate enough to host her at our library a few years ago, so I was beyond excited to see that she had written a work of historical fiction and even more excited to have received an advanced copy. In 1927, Mary Engle, raised in an orphanage, was thrilled to be offered a job as a secretary at the Nettleton State Village for Feebleninded Women of Childbearing Age. Like most people, Mary is under the impression that all the women there are in fact ment I’ve enjoyed all of Ann Leary’s books and was fortunate enough to host her at our library a few years ago, so I was beyond excited to see that she had written a work of historical fiction and even more excited to have received an advanced copy. In 1927, Mary Engle, raised in an orphanage, was thrilled to be offered a job as a secretary at the Nettleton State Village for Feebleninded Women of Childbearing Age. Like most people, Mary is under the impression that all the women there are in fact mentally impaired and that attending this institution is their best option. These impressions change when Mary sees that one of the patients is a very able-minded friend who grew up in the orphanage with her. From that point on, she begins to see that things are not exactly right and that the village’s director does not necessarily have the women’s best intentions in mind, but nefarious ulterior motives for running the facility. Leary’s writing is always stellar and this was no exception. This is her first delve into this genre based on some genealogical research she has done on her own family, which is fascinating. The story moves along quickly and flawlessly and readers will be captivated by Mary, who is at first very naive but quickly learns that things are not right and only she has the power to change this. Her character is strong and lovable. The ending is powerful and very satisfying with an unexpected twist, making this another 5 star book for Ann Leary. Many thanks to Netgalley, Edelweiss, Scribner/Marysue Rucci and Ann Leary for my complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    Thank you, Ann Leary, NetGalley, and Scribner Books for the opportunity to read this book. It was just released on May 31st, 2022. “Well, you know what books I like, I mean, what else do you need to know?” THE FOUNDLING The Foundling by Ann Leary takes readers to the year 1927 and introduces the extremely naive, Mary Engle. At just 18 years old, she gets a job as a secretary at Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She had grown up in an orphanage and jumped at the cha Thank you, Ann Leary, NetGalley, and Scribner Books for the opportunity to read this book. It was just released on May 31st, 2022. “Well, you know what books I like, I mean, what else do you need to know?” THE FOUNDLING The Foundling by Ann Leary takes readers to the year 1927 and introduces the extremely naive, Mary Engle. At just 18 years old, she gets a job as a secretary at Nettleton State Village for Feebleminded Women of Childbearing Age. She had grown up in an orphanage and jumped at the chance to work under Dr. Agnes Vogel. Mary is in awe of her and her new job. But one day, she sees a familiar face, Lillian, a girl who was with her at the orphanage. There is no way she belongs here. Mary soon discovers that there is something wrong with Nettleton and especially with Dr. Vogel. This book held a lot of promise with that premise, but it was not executed well. Let me start with the pacing. The beginning is slow, which is to be expected. We meet naive Mary, and as the book progresses she doesn’t really stop being naive. Well, maybe she does, but then happily turns a blind eye and feigns ignorance. Because “she can’t lose her job.” Which is mentioned quite often. Then about 70% into the book and she is just not ignorant anymore and is determined to make a change, but only to one person. Now time to talk about the trigger warnings. The author did her research and wanted it to be as accurate as possible. So be warned the language used is very insulting. The women are deemed low in intelligence and are referred to as idiots and morons. But the author does state in the introduction that this was the actual language used in asylums during this time. There is also rape, abuse, gaslighting, racism, and antisemitism. This leads me to the tone of the novel. This story is heavy and dark, or it should be written as such. For some reason, it came off very light to me. There is definitely the want for a happily ever after when I think this book would have made more of an impact by embracing the heavy and important topics. However, thanks to the ignorant Mary, we do get to see her experience a lot of lessons involving her privilege. I do appreciate what the author tried to do with this book, but not sure how well it was executed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    I’m all about stories set in asylums. Granted, most of the time the stories are darker, of a more horrific or thrillerific manner, but most will do. Because no matter the direction the author chooses, the setting is simply much too dark to loan itself to lightheartedness. And I like dark tales. This one to be fair is somewhat on the lighter side tonally, if only because of the sort of book it is…which is a work of historical literature with a distinct women’s fiction angle. There are so many book I’m all about stories set in asylums. Granted, most of the time the stories are darker, of a more horrific or thrillerific manner, but most will do. Because no matter the direction the author chooses, the setting is simply much too dark to loan itself to lightheartedness. And I like dark tales. This one to be fair is somewhat on the lighter side tonally, if only because of the sort of book it is…which is a work of historical literature with a distinct women’s fiction angle. There are so many books like this out there right now. It’s popular and it sells and everyone’s doing it, but in this instance, for the author it was personal. Specifically, inspired by a biographical fact she found out about her late grandmother, who as a young women worked an at institution just like the one featured in the book. An institution so terrifying, so oppressive, you just know it had to be real. A place for women of child-bearing age deemed mentally unfit for society. The child-bearing aspect is important, because that presupposes the duration of stays, sometimes decades. It’s also directly to do with the ever so popular at the time and ever so reviled since field of eugenics…a fascinating science that has the absolute worse connotations because it was so consistently and staunchly practiced and believed in by the wrong people. I mean, Margaret Sanger was a fan. Which of course means, that modern day PC police ought to discredit all her good work for women’s rights, etc. But yeah, Sanger believed that women who are imbeciles (word of the time) should be prevented from reproducing. So did the person in charge of the institution that the author’s grandmother had once worked for and so did her fictional counterpart Vogel who operates the place in the book. They made it sound good on paper, attracting generous donors and support, but in reality, it was a place of nightmarish abuse of power. For a young woman of barely eighteen, it was a dream job that slowly turned into a nightmare. So, in theory the bubbly girly tone of the book can be excused by the youth of its narrator and we do get the entire story from her perspective…as her wild-eyed inexperienced naïveté gives way to the dawning awareness of the evil of the woman for whom she works, the evil of the institution she works for. But the thing is there’s enough here to offset the youngness of the perspective as it were. The darkness of it, certainly, made all the more terrifying by the fact that it’s based in reality. These places existed, these beliefs existed. And you can’t even be comforted by the fact that it was oh so long ago, just think of how recently the Magdalene Sisters were still going in Ireland. The most interesting aspect of this novel for me was the dynamic between Mary and Vogel. The way it devolves from respect and admiration into loathing. Vogel is a cleverly crafted character, she’s intelligent, educated, a woman in a position of power at the time when there was none to be had and she is all too willing to give Mary the world if only to recreate her in her own image, as a protégé, a daughter she never had – a gift irresistible to a young girl who’s never had a mother and was raised in a Catholic orphanage. That, combined with Mary’s general inexperience of the world, makes it so difficult for her to see Vogel as the amoral beast that she is. It reminded me of a fascinating documentary about The Fuhrer’s secretary. A woman lived to a very old age and got to tell her story and in it, one of the worst men ever, the very personification of evil, is seen through the eyes of a young woman in his employ as a perfectly decent boss and a reasonable person. It’s such a striking reminder that people have different aspects and angles to them and can present differently on a micro and macro scale. That evil can hide beneath the most placid waters and masquerade as many things to many people. Anyway, so yeah, that’s what made the book for me and tipped it more toward historical fiction then women’s fiction. Made it into an interesting and compelling read. Thanks Netgalley.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Simmering, shocking, and insightful! The Foundling is an intriguing, immersive tale that sweeps you away to Pennsylvania during 1927 and into the Nettleton State Village for Feeble-minded Women of Childbearing Age, where women who are supposedly dim-witted or sexually loose are sent to be incarcerated often for trivial reasons only to endure emotional and physical abuse, excessive workloads, forced sterilization, meagre basic necessities, and often vicious, unwarranted punishments. The prose is sm Simmering, shocking, and insightful! The Foundling is an intriguing, immersive tale that sweeps you away to Pennsylvania during 1927 and into the Nettleton State Village for Feeble-minded Women of Childbearing Age, where women who are supposedly dim-witted or sexually loose are sent to be incarcerated often for trivial reasons only to endure emotional and physical abuse, excessive workloads, forced sterilization, meagre basic necessities, and often vicious, unwarranted punishments. The prose is smooth and sophisticated. The characters are naive, vulnerable, and resilient. And the plot is a compelling tale about life, loss, love, heartbreak, courage, hope, manipulation, corruption, ethics, morality, racism, and abuse of power. Overall, The Foundling is a gripping, enlightening, somewhat disturbing tale by Leary that does a remarkable job of highlighting her incredible knowledge and research into this horrifying time in history that included extreme prejudice, the repression of women, a vast gap between the rich and poor, and unimaginable support for the eugenics movement. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura Rogers

    I AM MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE! This is the thought I had while reading The Foundling. A work of biographical historical fiction, The Foundling is set in The Nettleton State Village for Feeble Minded Women of Child Bearing Age. The name is foreboding. It is an institution of outward respectability and inner evil in operation during the eugenics movement of the early twentieth century. Eugenics: The practice of controlled selective breeding of humans to improve the genetic gen I AM MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE! This is the thought I had while reading The Foundling. A work of biographical historical fiction, The Foundling is set in The Nettleton State Village for Feeble Minded Women of Child Bearing Age. The name is foreboding. It is an institution of outward respectability and inner evil in operation during the eugenics movement of the early twentieth century. Eugenics: The practice of controlled selective breeding of humans to improve the genetic gene pool. Superior race and all that. Sound familiar? Nettleton and others like it were society's attempt to keep those deemed intellectually, physically, or morally deficient from having children. After all, we don't need them expecting hand outs from the government, birthing a brood of more moochers. Sound familiar? Homes for unwed mothers, sanitoriums, asylums for the "feeble minded", reform schools; all institutions that, on the surface, have our best interests at heart but whose intentions are often distorted and mangled by those trying to control what isn't rightfully theirs to control or trying to mitigate their own wrongdoing. Sound familiar? The main character, Mary Engle, a young, naive Catholic girl takes her first job at Nettleton. She worships Margaret Sanger, the woman at the helm. Questions arise when she sees a girl from the same orphanage where she was raised, a girl who didn't seem "feeble minded" in the least. I couldn't help it, I judged Mary Engle harshly. I wanted to slap her and yell in her face, "Wake up!." But it wasn't her fault; it was the culture of the time (behave appropriately, respect authority, don't question). All of the women at Nettleton were institutionalized against their will for the duration of their child-bearing years. They were essentially free labor for the institutions and the people with money and influence in the community. Many women were sent away by their parents or husbands because of their refusal to do as told or because they dared to speak about emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse. Sometimes it was a means of controlling her money without the nuisance of having her around. The eugenics movement certainly wasn't the first nor the last example of the blaming the victim mentally still evident today. Every story deserves to be heard but I have to admit that at times I feel the weight will crush me. What makes The Foundling particularly poignant is that it is based on the true story of Leary's grandmother (not great-grandmother or great-great-grandmother). The book is well researched and rings true. I would like to have more information about what happened to the women after they were released. It couldn't have been good. The question that needs pondering is this: When we are witness to injustice, when our eyes are opened, will we have the courage to act? I received a drc from Scribner via Netgalley. Available now from your favorite bookstore or library.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    I really enjoyed this historical fiction novel with a fast-moving pace! It was interesting to learn more about the infuriating eugenics practice of imprisoning women for being “feebleminded” under the guise of their own protection in the 1920’s. The story was spooky at times and had some unexpected twists and turns, and I found the characters to be well developed and appropriately complex. Although it was a difficult topic to explore at times, I found the ending hopeful and satisfying. I have be I really enjoyed this historical fiction novel with a fast-moving pace! It was interesting to learn more about the infuriating eugenics practice of imprisoning women for being “feebleminded” under the guise of their own protection in the 1920’s. The story was spooky at times and had some unexpected twists and turns, and I found the characters to be well developed and appropriately complex. Although it was a difficult topic to explore at times, I found the ending hopeful and satisfying. I have become a big fan of Ann Leary between this book, and The Good House! 9/10. Thank you very much to NetGalley and Scribner, Marysue Rucci Books for the advanced reader’s copy of this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    This is the first Leary novel I have read, but it won’t be my last. 1927 was difficult for Mary and Lillian. Both found themselves in a facility for the “feeble minded.” Mary was and employee and Lillian an inmate. Through flashbacks the reader learns about the relationship between the two. Much of the novel is slow-paced. The last quarter I had my heart in my throat many times worrying about the outcome. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to be an early reader in exchange for This is the first Leary novel I have read, but it won’t be my last. 1927 was difficult for Mary and Lillian. Both found themselves in a facility for the “feeble minded.” Mary was and employee and Lillian an inmate. Through flashbacks the reader learns about the relationship between the two. Much of the novel is slow-paced. The last quarter I had my heart in my throat many times worrying about the outcome. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to be an early reader in exchange for my review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sally Hanan

    The history in this book is really sad, with so many young women losing out on the joy of living because of other people's selfishness, greed, and corruption in the late 1920s. The storyline did and didn't work for me, with the main character, Mary, having a lot of ups and downs as to who she trusted and where she stood. In the end I just found her highly annoying and didn't really care how things turned out for her. ' There was a sex scene in the book that didn't seem to fit at all. It's as if som The history in this book is really sad, with so many young women losing out on the joy of living because of other people's selfishness, greed, and corruption in the late 1920s. The storyline did and didn't work for me, with the main character, Mary, having a lot of ups and downs as to who she trusted and where she stood. In the end I just found her highly annoying and didn't really care how things turned out for her. ' There was a sex scene in the book that didn't seem to fit at all. It's as if someone said there should be one and so there was, but it was a bad move when everything else was a bit more realistic. Things sped up towards the end of the story, but even then, certain parts were added to make a rescue plan more credible, but the setup really wasn't credible at all. Anyway, I can't say much more without giving spoilers, but despite decent writing, I'd rather have spent my time reading something else.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Richard Bankey

    Thank you for the book. Really enjoyed the story and loved the ending Stacey Bankey

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Nixon

    The title doesn’t really make sense… otherwise I like this! It’s also so fun to find a book that takes place in Scranton (my birthplace). What really impressed me was the author note at the beginning. I’m glad it was there; it prepared me. I was also fascinated how this story came to exist. Overall, this novel illustrates the constant struggle for true equality how suffrage (in a grand context) is more than the right to vote. SUMMARY: Mary’s mother died when she was young. Her father couldn’t care The title doesn’t really make sense… otherwise I like this! It’s also so fun to find a book that takes place in Scranton (my birthplace). What really impressed me was the author note at the beginning. I’m glad it was there; it prepared me. I was also fascinated how this story came to exist. Overall, this novel illustrates the constant struggle for true equality how suffrage (in a grand context) is more than the right to vote. SUMMARY: Mary’s mother died when she was young. Her father couldn’t care for her due to his job, so he left her at an orphanage, until age 12, when she went to live with her aunt. At 19yo she “left home” to take a job at a eugenics center, not really knowing anything about the center or eugenics but she was dazzled by the fact she’d be working for a woman doctor, something that was extremely rare at the time. Shortly after arriving she spots one of the inmates and believes it is a girl she knew from the orphanage. Except that couldn’t be… that girl was bright and only mentally diminished women should be at this clinic… at the same time, Mary begins a friendship with a nurse, and has a boyfriend, both of whom introduce her to new ideas which makes her start questioning what she believes, particularly about her employer. She also tries to find out what happened to the girl from the orphanage and if the inmate really is her… and if so, how can she help get her out?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Matlow

    8/10 This is the first book I’ve read of Ann Leary’s. And, boy-oh, is it a good one. It turns out Ann was doing some family research and came across a place in Pennsylvania that was a home for women on the spectrum. I’m not sure where reality and fiction become separated, but this book takes the idea of the home and creates a story that sucks you in the more you read. Mary Engle was raised in an orphanage. As she grew older she was offered a job at this institute. It claimed to be a home for clin 8/10 This is the first book I’ve read of Ann Leary’s. And, boy-oh, is it a good one. It turns out Ann was doing some family research and came across a place in Pennsylvania that was a home for women on the spectrum. I’m not sure where reality and fiction become separated, but this book takes the idea of the home and creates a story that sucks you in the more you read. Mary Engle was raised in an orphanage. As she grew older she was offered a job at this institute. It claimed to be a home for clinical idiots and morons (women of low IQ), with the purpose of keeping them locked up throughout their childbearing years. As it turns out, one of Marys friends from the orphanage is housed there. Through that connection, Mary realizes that everything is not what it seems. Throughout her discoveries, Mary emerges from her shell and blossoms from a timid follower to a self-assured leader. It’s a wonderfully crafted story. I can’t wait to pick up more of Ann’s books. #netgalley #thefoundling

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kim Lockhart

    Eugenics is an under-researched topic of relatively recent American history. This novel exposes the tremendous harm done to unknown numbers of vulnerable women in the name of pseudoscience. Reading about the horrors of state-run institutions can feel hopelessly grim, which is why the narrative form and the infusion of hope that this story brings, are so vitally important.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Gregory

    4.5⭐️s! This book was great! I’m not the biggest historical fiction fan, but this one was definitely different. It wasn’t about any war or anything 🙃 I’m over here in Philly so it hit close to home since the asylum was in Harrisburg and I had no idea! It was super interesting to know that it was based on a true story and the book was super suspenseful too. I liked Mary as the MC and I think she had great character development and I enjoyed the side characters and the little romance Mary had with 4.5⭐️s! This book was great! I’m not the biggest historical fiction fan, but this one was definitely different. It wasn’t about any war or anything 🙃 I’m over here in Philly so it hit close to home since the asylum was in Harrisburg and I had no idea! It was super interesting to know that it was based on a true story and the book was super suspenseful too. I liked Mary as the MC and I think she had great character development and I enjoyed the side characters and the little romance Mary had with Jake. I thought the book had a nice flow to it and the ending left me satisfied. I guess those foundlings really do have luck in life! Thank you Simon and Schuster for the ARC!

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