Saturday, June 17, 2017

With You Always (Orphan Train #1) by Jody Hedlund [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  As always, I highly anticipate a new book from author Jody Hedlund. When I saw she was writing a series featuring the Orphan Train of the 1850s I had an additional interest. My mother and her brother were placed in an orphanage in the early 1920s because their father died and their mother had no means of supporting them herself. She wanted them safely kept and their needs met. This was not an Orphan Train case, but still the situation of desperation that society imposed on the poor necessitated that desperate steps be taken. This was hard on my mother, her brother, and their mother.

As I read With You Always, I came to the realization that this story was essentially laying the story behind the desperate times and desperate people who resort to desperate resolutions. Poverty is always around us, but in the financial crisis of the 1850s despair and need resulted in children, young ladies, young boys, and whole families living on the streets - much like some situations today. But in 1850 there was little help available.

Now factor into the story the wealthier side of society and land development around existing railroad lines and you have the need to send men and women into new situations for work to establish new towns with homes, farms, and accompanying businesses. And with the crisis that society's ills placed on young and old alike, these rail lines were used to send forth children as orphans to work these farms and help in these homes. In With You Always the sending of children is hinted at as it touched on the family of Elise Neumann who was working to help "build" one of these new towns.

I am sure that as future books in the Orphan Train Series are available, we will see the plight of the children placed on these trains and sent forth into unknown areas and situations that sometimes were good but often were not.

Hedlund paints a wonderful word picture of the times and events and draws characters that are charming, fun, unlikeable, witty - the whole gamut of personalities.

The historical record of this period in New York with the financial crisis, gang war and rioting, and destitute situation of a huge number of the populace is well written in this book. Another good read from the pen of Jody Hedlund.

About the book: When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She's had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children's Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn't want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.

The son of one of New York City's wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother's shadow and is determined to win his father's challenge. He doesn't plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.
Begins June 17
Ends July 9 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.


  1. It has been my general understanding and personal experience through much genealogical research that many times orphans were taken in by family or neighbors. In some places there were orphanages and there were some orphan trains, mainly from the huge population centers.

  2. no much. I have read that they were not cared for too well. that families were split upon if the people taking care of the orphans could. that they were taken in by families that needed help

  3. I know that for many years ,historically orphans were simple warehoused or even sent out to families as workers. I think the trend now is to find them an adoptive or foster home. Lacking that, the children are sometimes grouped in smaller, more family like groups with a house parent.

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  4. It is my understanding that the historic care of orphans wasn't very effective. Today's system may not be much better.


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