Book Review: A New Novel series, The Women of the Orphan Trains in the late 1800’s. 

With You Always

An Orphan Train novel

By Jody Hedlund

Starting the story with the free novella, An Awakened Heart, we learn of the hardships of Elise Neumann and her family. She is discovered living on the New York streets by socialite Christine Pendleton. Christine volunteers at the Centre Street Chapel trying to make a difference in the lives of the destitute immigrants. Along with Guy Bedell, Christine tries to help orphans living on the streets especially Elise and her sisters. 

In With You Always, a crisis leaves Elise taking care of her sisters and two children of a family friend. When her work as a seamstress becomes null and void, she has to take a job out of state in Illinois so the family can survive. She joins the train taking orphans to the Midwest to find work in a new railroad town; leaving her sisters in the care of Christine and Guy. 

Previously during a riot in New York, she met Thornton Quincy who helped her escape back to safety at the chapel mission. It isn’t until Elise boards the train that she meets him again. 

Thornton is a son in one of New York City’s wealthiest families. With his father dying, he is tasked in a competition against his twin brother. The son that succeeds in building a town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and truly falls in love will inherit the family business. 

However, Thornton didn’t count on how important Elise would become to not only his town, but also to his heart.

Elise boarded the train thinking she was getting a job as a seamstress only to become the train depot restaurant chef. 

With sabotage, intrigue and a pinch of spice, so much more than dining room fare starts to cook in this historical romance. 

Jody Hedlund brings the trials and tribulations of the 1850’s women to light. When reading her historicals, you feel as if you are in the story right along the characters. 

In her new series Jody Hedlund explores the Orphan Trains and the women that were an integral part of them. 

As Jody Hedlund says, “Many of us have long been fascinated by the era of the Orphan Trains and the heartrending stories of the homeless and helpless young orphans who were taken from the streets of New York and other eastern cities and shipped west by the dozens.
While stories of the orphans who rode the trains have been told, and rightly so, the stories of the women who were involved in the movement are not as well known. One of the things I like to do when telling my stories is to focus on women who have been overlooked by the pages of history. I consider it a great privilege to bring forgotten women to life for new generations of readers. Thus throughout this series I’ll be focusing each book on a different aspect of the Orphan Train movement, particularly from the perspectives of women who experienced riding the trains in one form or another.”

I always enjoy Jody’s novels as they are entertaining to be swept up along with the characters as they journey through their adventure but also because I learn a day-in-the-life of women in the history of American life. Jody champions the struggles that women faced leading to the advances we have nowadays. Without these women that fought with strength, we might not have the social justices we have won today. 

I look forward to the next episode of where the trains take us. 

For more information and to find out where to get the free novella Awakened Heart be sure to visit Jody Hedlund’s website at www.jodyhedlund.com 

FTC Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this title by Bethany House publishing and author Jody Hedlund for review purposes only; no other compensation was awarded. 

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