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The Girls with No Names
Cover of The Girls with No Names
The Girls with No Names
A Novel
INSTANT INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
A beautiful tale of hope, courage, and sisterhood—inspired by the real House of Mercy and the girls confined there for daring to break the rules.
Growing up in New York City in the 1910s, Luella and Effie Tildon realize that even as wealthy young women, their freedoms come with limits. But when the sisters discover a shocking secret about their father, Luella, the brazen elder sister, becomes emboldened to do as she pleases. Her rebellion comes with consequences, and one morning Luella is mysteriously gone.
Effie suspects her father has sent Luella to the House of Mercy and hatches a plan to get herself committed to save her sister. But she made a miscalculation, and with no one to believe her story, Effie's own escape seems impossible—unless she can trust an enigmatic girl named Mable. As their fates entwine, Mable and Effie must rely on their tenuous friendship to survive.
Home for Unwanted Girls meets The Dollhouse in this atmospheric, heartwarming story that explores not only the historical House of Mercy, but the lives—and secrets—of the girls who stayed there.
"Burdick has spun a cautionary tale of struggle and survival, love and family — and above all, the strength of the heart, no matter how broken." — New York Times Book Review
"Burdick reveals the perils of being a woman in 1913 and exposes the truths of their varying social circles." — Chicago Tribune
INSTANT INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
A beautiful tale of hope, courage, and sisterhood—inspired by the real House of Mercy and the girls confined there for daring to break the rules.
Growing up in New York City in the 1910s, Luella and Effie Tildon realize that even as wealthy young women, their freedoms come with limits. But when the sisters discover a shocking secret about their father, Luella, the brazen elder sister, becomes emboldened to do as she pleases. Her rebellion comes with consequences, and one morning Luella is mysteriously gone.
Effie suspects her father has sent Luella to the House of Mercy and hatches a plan to get herself committed to save her sister. But she made a miscalculation, and with no one to believe her story, Effie's own escape seems impossible—unless she can trust an enigmatic girl named Mable. As their fates entwine, Mable and Effie must rely on their tenuous friendship to survive.
Home for Unwanted Girls meets The Dollhouse in this atmospheric, heartwarming story that explores not only the historical House of Mercy, but the lives—and secrets—of the girls who stayed there.
"Burdick has spun a cautionary tale of struggle and survival, love and family — and above all, the strength of the heart, no matter how broken." — New York Times Book Review
"Burdick reveals the perils of being a woman in 1913 and exposes the truths of their varying social circles." — Chicago Tribune
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About the Author-
  • Serena Burdick Graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in California before moving to New York City to pursue a degree in English Literature at Brooklyn College. Author of GIRL IN THE AFTERNOON, she lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 21, 2019
    Burdick (Girl in the Afternoon) will break hearts with this exquisitely wrought, meticulously researched historical reflection on an American version of the infamous Magdalene laundries of Ireland. In the first years of the 20th century, free-spirited sisters Luella and Effie Tildon live in New York City, near the House of Mercy, a home for wayward girls that is anything but merciful. Effie can’t conceive of a time when she and Luella won’t be living happily ever after—until Luella disappears, setting in motion a devastating series of events. Believing that her sister has been committed by their father to the House of Mercy, Effie hatches a plan to get committed—and when she discovers she’s wrong, she becomes a prisoner, largely dependent on another resident, Mable. Effie’s parents, meanwhile, have no idea where she is, believe she’s been kidnapped, and are moving heaven and earth to find her. Told from the alternating points of view of Effie; her mother, Jeanne; and Mable, the narrative combines lush prose with a quick and riveting plot. Readers will be intensely moved by this historical. Agent: Stephanie Delman, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2019
    In the early 1910s, the House of Mercy, a home for wayward girls, looms over the posh Tildon estate in upper Manhattan. Will the Tildon daughters fall into its clutches? Born with a heart condition that should have ended her life in infancy, 13-year-old Effie Tildon adores her older sister, Luella. When they discover a band of Roma camping near their home, their curiosity is sparked, and the two sisters begin sneaking out to sing, dance, and have their fortunes told. Even though their parents would be shocked, Effie and Luella know they are simply having some fun, exploring a new world. But discovering that their father, Emory, has a shameful secret drives Luella from home. Convinced that her parents have had Luella incarcerated in the House of Mercy (an American version of the notorious Magdalene laundries that plagued unfortunate Irish girls), Effie contrives to rescue her. Once inside the House of Mercy, she meets Mable Winter, who has plenty of secrets of her own to hide. Yet Effie has grossly miscalculated, and her rescue mission quickly sets in motion a series of fateful events that imperil her life. The bleak lives of women in early-20th-century New York spring to life through Burdick's (Girl in the Afternoon, 2016) deft sketching. Whether born to privilege, as the Tildon girls are, or tossed into the tenement slums, as Mable is, each girl must fight bitterly for any kind of freedom. As for the House of Mercy itself, Burdick shrewdly lets it loom in the background for a bit before pulling it to the foreground, like an urban legend suddenly brought to life. Burdick is especially adept at slowly revealing the motivation of the ominous figures around Effie and Mable while ratcheting up both the girls' vulnerability and courage. A spellbinding thriller for fans of Gilded Age fiction.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    January 17, 2020

    In the early 1910s, teen sisters Luella and Effie Tildon, wealthy Manhattanites, feel confined by the conventions and expectations of their class and gender. Outgoing and adventurous Luella convinces shy Effie to sneak way from the family mansion to visit the local "gypsy" encampment. Luella is fascinated by the Romani community and she continues to return to the camp in secret, eventually attracting the attention of a boy. Though she's reluctant to leave her younger sister, who's frail due to a heart condition, Luella rebels against her increasingly restricted life. After an explosive family argument, Effie wakes up to discover that Luella is gone; she fears that her parents have sent Luella to the House of Mercy, an institution for wayward girls. Determined to rescue her sister, Effie lies her way into the home, only to discover that leaving is impossible. She risks escape with another inmate who senses that Effie is more gravely ill than she admits. Burdick's (Girl in the Afternoon) story, sometimes lyrical, sometimes starkly realistic, explores the dark reprecussions of family secrets and the drive for love and acceptance. VERDICT A well-plotted story with an excellent sense of time and place. Readers looking for historical fiction with emotional depth will enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/19.]--Pamela O'Sullivan, Coll. at Brockport Lib., SUNY

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    December 1, 2019
    Burdick's sophomore effort (after Girl in the Afternoon, 2016) is inspired by the infamous Magdalene laundries, institutions that effectively functioned as prisons for women accused of moral failings, whose labor was used to enrich the Catholic Church. In 1910s New York, wealthy Effie is convinced that her parents have committed her headstrong elder sister Luella to the House of Mercy, advertised as a home for wayward girls, and conspires to get herself committed too, realizing too late that her assumption about Luella's whereabouts was incorrect, and she now has no way to escape to her worried family. At the House of Mercy, Effie's fate becomes intertwined with that of Mable, a girl of vastly different origins than Effie who finds herself imprisoned?and determined to escape. Told by three alternating narrators, Burdick's carefully researched narrative shines a light on the untold stories of countless real women, and fans of Joanna Goodman's The Home for Unwanted Girls (2018) will be consumed by the fast-paced plot and well-characterized, sympathetic girls at the novel's heart.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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The Girls with No Names
A Novel
Serena Burdick
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