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The Orphan Collector: A Heroic Novel of Survival During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Kindle Edition
“Wiseman shows how humans are capable of great cruelty but also great compassion in this ultimately uplifting, compelling read.” —Shelf Awareness
“Readers will not be able to help making comparisons to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how little has changed since 1918. Wiseman has written a touching tale of loss, survival, and perseverance with some light fantastical elements. Highly recommended for all collections.” – Booklist
“The Orphan Collector is an immersive historical tale with chilling twists and turns. Set during the Spanish Flu epidemic in Philadelphia, this atmospheric novel explores the depravity to which some will sink in adversity, but it also illuminates the strength of family bonds and the resilience of the human heart. Beautifully told and richly imagined.”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter
“Ellen Marie Wiseman has done it again: masterfully recreated a time of crisis in American history—rendering the flu epidemic of 1918 to reveal its devastating impact on families and, most especially, children, who too often endure the egregious actions of amoral adults. The Orphan Collector is a story that relentlessly pursues those intent on committing evil deeds and those who have the courage to defy them. A breathtaking examination of family and social systems.”—Jessica Keener, author of Strangers in Budapest
“Wiseman's blistering moving and profound novel, set against the devastating backdrop of the 1918 Spanish flu, hones in on an extraordinary exploration of the plight of immigrants, as two very different women grapple with finding, keeping, and changing their place in the world. Absolutely amazing.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of With or Without You
“A meticulously researched historical novel that unfolds with the pace of a thriller, The Orphan Collector features a main character, a 13-year-old daughter of German immigrants named Pia Lange, who grabs a reader heart and soul. As the flu epidemic hits Philadelphia with savage fury in 1918, Pia's world becomes a nightmare and she uses every ounce of intelligence, resilience, and instinct to not only protect her family but also stay alive. You will be riveted by this story up to the very last page.”—Nancy Bilyeau, author of Dreamland
“Wiseman’s writing is superb, and her descriptions of life during the Spanish Flu epidemic are chilling. In Pia, Wiseman has created a character that will draw in readers with her courage and resilience. In Bernice, we find the darker side of American attitudes toward immigrants prevalent during the early 1900s. She is truly despicable character, yet horrifyingly beguiling. Well-researched and impossible to put down, this is an emotional tug-of-war played out brilliantly on the pages and in readers’ hearts.”—The Historical Novels Review, EDITOR’S CHOICE
“Wiseman chronicles the devastation the 1918 flu pandemic wrought on a German immigrant family in Philadelphia…Wiseman’s depiction of the horrifying spread of the Spanish flu is eerily reminiscent of the present day and resonates with realistic depictions of suffering, particularly among the poorer immigrant population. Historical fiction fans will appreciate Pia and her pluck and determination to survive.”—Publishers Weekly
“Wiseman’s novel raises relevant issues about what it means to be an American and about the forms that anti-American sentiment can take in times of crisis…Reading the novel in the time of COVID-19 adds an even greater resonance, and horror, to the description of the fatal spread of that 1918 flu. The pathos inspired by the sheer scale and indiscriminate nature of pandemic death is almost overwhelming, especially given current events.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The author masterfully conveys empathy for the characters…an emotional roller coaster that was eerily similar to today’s events. I felt Pia’s strength, courage, guilt, and grief come through the pages clear as day.”—The Seattle Book Review
About the Author
- ASIN : B07ZPJZDDV
- Publisher : Kensington Books (August 4, 2020)
- Publication date : August 4, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 4746 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 402 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #974 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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As far as a "historical novel" goes, it was not well researched. There are certainly plenty of tropes (i.e., orphan trains) that are employed with general finesse, as if the author fell down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and went, "Wow, this is neat!" But as far as writing the story from a historical standpoint that really captures the day-to-day minutiae, it falls apart. In VERY broad brushstrokes, it explores an interesting era, but you could do this yourself by Googling life in Philadelphia in 1918. As far as "bringing to life" the era through characters, the book utterly fails, the characters falling into tiring caricatures and the occasional anachronism jarring the reader out of the story.
The character motivations are embarrassingly stereotyped and flat. The main antagonist is broadly xenophobic and unsympathetic, almost to a comic degree. Protagonists have inexplicable modern views on things like race, which are anachronistically baffling. (At one point, a young girl expresses disbelief that "bigots" would want to adopt only a "white" baby. This occurs in a time of segregated treatment, when anyone adopting wouldn't even need to clarify such a desire in the first place because it would be assumed.)
Characters with accents have their accents randomly and abruptly fluctuate, giving one whiplash while reading. If Finn Duffy has turned out to be a leprechaun at the end, I would not have even been surprised. This is on the editor more than the author to have made accents consistent, but while reading, it still deeply annoyed me because it brought me out of the story. If "ye" want to write accents phonetically, make sure "you" are consistent.
Everyone is constantly grieving and angst-ridden. Dial up that angst to 11. This book wants everyone to suffer as hard as possible, constantly, relentlessly, without subtly. After the 14th time the main character is wracked with sobs, the reader begins to feel numb and uncaring. The misery of this book is reminiscent of a teenager's attempt to write something emotional. It shows instead of tells in the worst possible way, with characters constantly weeping, collapsing, or engaging in grandiose literary displays of their sadness, to a degree that comes across as self-pitying and annoying instead of sympathetic. (A note: if you enjoy Victorian romanticism and the teary-eyed angst that comes with it, you might actually like this book.)
The author's personal prejudices feel very much on display, as characters who self-describe as "godly" or "good Christians" are inexplicably sadistic and evil. Sister Ernestine in particular is given no further development than "mean nun." Certain character descriptions (such as the wattle of her neck) are given over and over and over again. Past the words of the book, I could almost feel the author preening over her cleverness; I felt like she re-used phrases she found to be evocative, and in doing so, beat them to death. We get it; the orphanage has a "stench of urine." After reading this phrase multiple times, please, I implore you... find something else to describe.
It's a quick read and I read it because Amazon recommended it to me. My mother loves historic novels and the circumstances surrounding the 1918 flu, so I purchased this book to read and then send to her. I am genuinely embarrassed by the book and am sending it to her along with a copy of this review, to apologize for its historical inaccuracies, heavy-handed amateurism, and painfully clichéd characters.
This was a book I devoured in a weekend and loved to hate. It wasn't good. I think it could be enjoyed under the right circumstances, though; if you like dramatic soap-opera-y nonsense, if you don't care much for accuracy (or prood-reading), if you want an easy-to-read "beach book" you might like this. If it was given to me for free, I would read it and regift it without a second thought. I only write this review because I'm annoyed I purchased it. It wasn't what I had expected, especially after reading the synopsis and the glowing reviews for it.
In summary, I just wish it hadn't been advertised as "historical" fiction, because the 1918 backdrop is nothing more than a backdrop: painted on a flat, two-dimensional surface and contributing little to the actual plot. This was fiction, all right, and that fiction was all too apparent in the underdeveloped characters, unclear motivations, and contrived narrative.
and entertaining at the same time.
The protagonist, Pia, carries you through events that are unimaginable for a young girl to endure. Her strength and fortitude are admirable.
Beatrice, her nemesis, is the ying to Pia’s yang displaying the worst of human nature. Her ability to justify her actions will astound you as the story unfolds.
The authors descriptions are vivid and gripping. It’s
like” watching a train wreck and not being able to turn away.”
Without divulging too much, it’s a great read!
While it was a devastating time in history whose lessons we seemed not to have learned, the story is ultimately hopeful. A great read for Book Clubs!!
Top reviews from other countries
If you can stomach the beginning, you will probably enjoy the ending.
Wiseman takes on another part of US history and making the reader really feel what life was like in this small mining town. This book wasn't an easy read but none of her books are but reading how children were forced to work and the harsh conditions they had to endure instead of being children and learning in a school environment.
I loved Emma and the various characters but my only criticism was the ending fell short. It felt rushed and it felt like it didnt fit with the rest of the story
I do recommend completely though