JANET BENTON
Cart 0
 

"Dear diary, that moment cut me loose of family and left me rudderless."

 
Book Page 1.png
 

LILLI’S INSPIRING POWER AND TOUCHING DETERMINATION ARE TIMELESS.
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

 

Lilli de Jong

Philadelphia, 1883. Twenty-three-year-old Lilli de Jong is pregnant and alone—abandoned by her lover and banished from her Quaker home. She gives birth at a charity for wronged women, planning to give up the baby. But the power of their bond sets her on a completely unexpected path. Unwed mothers in 1883 face staggering prejudice, yet Lilli refuses  to give up her baby girl. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep the two of them alive.  

Lilli confides this story to her diary as it unfolds, taking readers from a charity for unwed mothers to a wealthy family’s home and onto the streets of a burgeoning American city. Her story offers a rare and harrowing view into a time when a mother’s milk is crucial for infant survival. Written with startling intimacy and compassion, this accomplished novel is both a rich historical depiction and a testament to the saving force of a woman’s love. 

"So little is permissible for a woman," writes Lilli, "yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood."

Click here to read the opening pages and here to download a book-group guide.

Bent_9780525563327_cvr_all_r1_front.jpg

Buy Now


A STRIKING HISTORICAL AND FEMINIST DEBUT THAT HIGHLIGHTS THE POWER OF MOTHERHOOD AND HONORS THE SILENT STRENGTH OF WOMEN.
— BUSTLE

 

 
 

A “monumental accomplishment.”

kirkus reviews

 
Book Page 2.png
Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr . . . an unforgettable and important reflection on the maternal and ultimately the human bond.
— Pam Jenoff, bestselling author of THE KOMMANDANT'S GIRL and THE ORPHAN'S TALE
Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute . . . Benton turns a laser eye to her subject, exposing the sanctimony, hypocrisies, and pervasive sexism that kept women confined and unequal in the Victorian era—and that still bedevil many women today.
— Christina Baker Kline, #1 NYT bestselling author of ORPHAN TRAIN and A PIECE OF THE WORLD
★ Starred review
Benton has written a captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother’s love and the stark reality of the choices she must make. VERDICT: A great choice for book clubs and readers of Geraldine Brooks.
— SUSAN SANTA, LIBRARY JOURNAL
[Benton] seamlessly weaves accurate historical detail as well as disturbing societal norms into the protagonist’s struggles. . . . [What a] monumental accomplishment the novel achieves. An absorbing debut from a writer to watch.
— KIRKUS REVIEWS
Benton has written a powerful work steeped in history, one that highlights the sacrifices, and rich rewards, of being a mother.
— ERIN KODICEK, AMAZON'S "BEST BOOKS OF THE MONTH," OMNIVORACIOUS
You would be hard-pressed to find a more intimate—even revolutionary—depiction of the emotional and sensory experiences of motherhood.
— PATRICIA SULLIVAN, UMASS MAGAZINE
[Lilli’s] clear-eyed view of her situation and her fearless questioning of a repressive system makes for exhilarating reading . . . LILLI DE JONG has real resonance in today’s battles over women’s reproductive health and the rights of working mothers.
— BOOKPAGE
A brilliantly quiet novel with a spine of steel.
— ILANA MASAD, "RIF’S FAVORITE READS OF MAY 2017," READ IT FORWARD
A new feminist classic for Trump-era America.
— ELIZABETH LICORISH, PHILLY VOICE
A stunning read about the fierceness of love.
— Caroline Leavitt, bestselling author of CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD
 
Book Page 4.png
 
This gentle love that Lilli and her daughter share and the distress they experience when separated are among the most powerful expressions of the parent-child relationship that I have encountered in contemporary literature.
— Danielle Hoffman, FRIENDS JOURNAL
A gorgeous paean to the courage and ferocity of a mother’s love, Lilli de Jong pays homage to the solace of writing through troubling times and will haunt readers long after its denouement.
— Jaclyn Fulwood, SHELF AWARENESS
This is both a super lush historical novel and an amazing feminist manifesto. Buy this for your mom, buy this for your boyfriend, buy it for everyone.
— BOOK RIOT
I loved this novel. Lilli de Jong is deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous. Janet Benton has an exceptional ability to bring history to life.
— Sandra Gulland, internationally bestselling author of JOSEPHINE B. TRILOGY
A powerful, authentic voice for a generation of women whose struggles were erased from history. A heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.
— Jamie Ford, bestselling author of HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET
 
Book page 6.png
 
The debut novel LILLI DE JONG is almost a feminist version of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, targeting the treatment of women in the 1880s rather than slaughterhouses in the early 20th century. . . . [T]his is a story that needs to be told, especially today, as women’s reproductive rights are threatened again.
— Fran Hawthorne, NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS
Janet Benton’s remarkable novel LILLI DE JONG is historical fiction that transcends the genre and recalls a past world so thoroughly that it breathes upon the page. From the first sentence, Lilli’s sensitive, observant, determined voice casts an irresistible spell.
— VALERIE MARTIN, AUTHOR OF MARY REILLY AND PROPERTY, ORANGE PRIZE WINNER
Benton, who has worked on documentary films and is an exhaustive researcher, provides a glorious, if dark, portrait of 19th-century Philadelphia. . . . These details vividly invoke the past, while Lilli’s fresh passion and insight give the book a voice that is lively and modern. Lilli de Jong is beautifully written and completely absorbing.
— Joanne Green, CLEAVER
Just when the reader is tempted to relegate the significance of this story to the past, an historical novel with a theme for another time, Benton calls forth the struggle of every mother. . . . To raise a child is to ask for heartache and happiness in equal measure, and this novel is a reflection on the sacrifices that all mothers have made for their families in the past and continue to make in the present.
— Jamie Sumner, LITERARY MAMA
Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Margaret Sanger all made their mark as early American feminists. . . . Had she been real, Lilli de Jong would have been a kindred spirit.
— Steve Pfarrer, AMHERST BULLETIN and DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE
A stunning ode to motherhood. LILLI DE JONG reminds us that there is no formula to being a good mother. Love is the essential ingredient, and only it gives everlasting life to our legacies.
— Sarah McCoy, bestselling author of THE MAPMAKER'S CHILDREN
 
Lilli de Jong is a virtual maternal hug of a novel that acknowledges the persistence of mothers everywhere.
— Helene Cohen Bludman, BOOKS IS WONDERFUL
 
 

Click above to read reviews on Goodreads. To ask Janet a question about Lilli de Jong on Goodreads, visit her page and scroll down to "Ask the Author."

Add to your Goodreads "to read" list here!

Lilli de Jong
 
 

ORDER IN paperback, HARDCOVER, E-BOOK, LARGE PRINT, AUDIO, & hebrew edition.

Buy Today

 
Book Page 3 Darkened.png