The Girls with No Names pulls readers into the gilded age of New York City in the 1910s when suffragettes marched in the street, unions fought for better work conditions—and girls were confined to the House of Mercy for daring to break the rules.
Life in the early 1900s was very confining for women and girls. Even the wealthy families who live in their mansions just down the road from the mysterious House of Mercy.
Luella and Effie belong to one of those families. Their father is charming but away a lot and their mother comes off as cold and a bit distant. Effie was born with a heart defect that will eventually kill her. Her older sister Luella has always looked after her. They are good girls with very little to do.
One day playing by the forest they hear beautiful music playing and their curiosity gets the better of them. What they find is a gypsy camp. Luella, a dancer is amazed and never wants to leave, but Effie needs her. All summer they hang out with the gypsy camp and it is here Luella runs after she and Effie find out a secret their father is keeping.
Feeling betrayed and angry Luella has no intention of obeying her father or ending up like one of the girls at school being sent to the Mercy House. She just needs a plan.
And just like that, she disappears. Effie is devastated and believes her father has finally had enough of his rebellious daughter and parked her in the Mercy House.
Effie is determined to find her sister and the way she gets into the house is brazen and fearless. But once behind that door, the house is anything but merciful. This is just another workhouse for girls who won’t knuckle under to society’s rules. How will she get out of this place where no one and nothing is what it seems. Not even their names.
Effie meets a girl named Mabel and we hear her story as well. With all the lies everyone is telling it will take a miracle for her to find her way home. If she doesn’t die in the process.
Historical Fiction with a lot of facts. These places existed everywhere. Magdalene Laundries, all more of the same. If a girl has an opinion she could easily never see the light of day again. Everyone in this book was suffering in some way. Secrets and lies told to protect reputations and instead simply end up making things so much worse.
NetGalley/January 7th, 2020 by Park Row