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The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls Summary and Reviews

The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls

A Novel

by Ursula Hegi

The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls by Ursula Hegi X
The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls by Ursula Hegi
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Aug 18, 2020
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

From beloved bestselling author Ursula Hegi, a new novel about three mothers, set on the shores of the Nordsee, perfect for fans of Water for Elephants and The Light Between Oceans.

In the summer of 1878, the Ludwig Zirkus arrives on Nordstrand in Germany, to the delight of the island's people. But after the show, a Hundred-Year Wave roars from the Nordsee and claims three young children.

Three mothers are on the beach when it happens: Lotte, whose children are lost; Sabine, a Zirkus seamstress with her grown daughter; and Tilli, just a girl herself, who will give birth later that day at St. Margaret's Home for Pregnant Girls. After the tragedy, Lotte's husband escapes with the Zirkus, while she loses the will to care for their surviving son. Tilli steps in, bonding with him in a way she isn't allowed to with her own baby, taken away at birth. Sabine, struggling to keep her childlike daughter safe in the world, forms a complicated friendship with Lotte. But the mothers' fragile trio is threatened when Lotte and her husband hatch a dangerous plan to reunite their family, and Tilli and Sabine must try to find a way to pull them back to reality.

As full of joy and beauty as it is of pain, and told with the luminous power that has made Ursula Hegi a beloved bestselling author for decades, The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls is a shining testament to the ways in which women hold each other up in the most unexpected of circumstances.

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Media Reviews

"[M]esmerizing...Hegi's command of the plot and ability to render poignant characters create a satisfyingly emotional story. Hegi's fans and devotees of literary fiction will treasure this." - Publishers Weekly

"Compassionately observant…The offbeat characters enhance the quasi-dreamlike effect, but the scenarios they face are starkly real…Their emotional hardships are satisfyingly leavened by softer moments of romantic and familial love." - Booklist

"The vaguely magical realist elements aren't a strong point for this author...Still, her characters in this less satisfying book are still full-bodied, and their various conflicts lead to tender final resolutions for the three protagonists. Not one of Hegi's best, but this thoughtful writer's work always merits attention." - Kirkus Reviews

"A writer at the height of her powers. I can't think of a better way to 'endorse' a novel than to say I will be gifting it to my book-loving friends and family―a gift, mind you, not a loan, as I want to keep this title in my keeper bookshelf along with several others of my favorite of Hegi's novels." - Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, Saving the World, and most recently A Wedding in Haiti

"The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls is a novel full of marvels...but the greatest marvel is Ursula Hegi's shimmering, radiant, vivid prose. Her characters, and their lives full of love and longing, leap off the page and into the reader's heart." - Margot Livesey, New York Times bestselling author of Mercury and The Flight of Gemma Hardy

The information about The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Mary Anne R. (Towson, MD)

The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls
This was a difficult novel for me to get into at first. The beginning scenes enveloped me in sadness. Maybe because of the pandemic I had trouble reading further but I am glad I did. Once the characters,so many characters, appeared on the scene I wanted to know them and their story.
The author has created a society of people where there is loss, heartache, deceit, abandonment and love. It is love that weaves its delight in the story. She has also created a place where non-human elements such as the Nordsee, the Zircus, the home for the girls are injected with life.
The author's characters have such depth.even the ones met a few times. I liked the author's writing style. Often it is beautifully poetic.
I think this is a good book for a book club discussion. There are many emotions involved in the novel that it would be interesting to get the opinion of others.

Patricia A. (Estero, FL)

A story of grief and love - The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls
It's been a while since I have read one of Ursula Hegi's novels, but in reading "The Patron Saint of Girls" I was quickly reminded of why I like her books so much. Hegi has again written an original and moving novel with a huge cast of fantastic characters that weave their way into your p head. I loved this book and the people in it, they are lovable and tragic and very human.

The nuns take in young pregnant girls, care for them, teach them and their children or arrange for the adoption of their babies. Tillie's baby is torn from her arms although she is desperate to keep her. However, poor Tillie is only eleven years old and has nowhere to go as her parents will not take her back. She is too young to be responsible for a child as she is a child herself.

The story is set in the land of dikes and windmills in the 19th century where the land floods frequently. This is primarily the story of Lotte and Kalle and of their tremendous loss. Three of their four children are pulled into the sea and drown in a hundred-year wave.

The year is 1878, a glorious summer day when the circus (zirkus) is in town, an event looked forward to all year. We meet the members of the circus, considered misfits or outcasts by some, but Hegi draws them with tremendous respect and tenderness. Each of these people are worth knowing and enriches the story of Lotte, Kalle, and Tillie.

Sabine, who sews costumes and the beekeeper who loves her and her and her daughter, Heike, who will always have the mind of a child but has the gift of playing the cello, even the jugglers and acrobats all enrich the story.

Part of the book goes back to 1842-45 when the nuns establish the school and home for the young unwed girls. But it is the year of Lotte's and Kalle's denial and unimaginable grief and their creation of an alternate reality the builds up a terror of what might lie ahead that grips the reader with fear.

Linda S. (Tucker, GA)

The ties that bind us
I really enjoyed The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls by Ursula Hegi! At first I was a bit put off because it is a bit hard to get into, but once in I was hooked. There is a lot of grief here, but as in life, it is the grief that creates meaning and growth. And boy do the three main characters grow! Hegi's writing style in this novel is somewhat different than Stones from the River as she writes in simple thoughts or blurbs, leaving it to the reader to think and connect the dots, so if you like everything explained to you, you will not care for this book. On the other hand, if you are a careful reader into a beautiful story of intergenerational women and their bonds, you too will enjoy this story.

Janice A. (Chippewa Falls, WI)

The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls
The characters in this book are complex and their backgrounds are slowly revealed. As I discovered more about each character, I developed a further understanding of the loss the character experienced, their reaction to this loss, and the strength they found. At times, I found the number and complexity of the characters to be confusing. Like me, other readers may initially struggle with the writing style. However, if you can adapt to this style you will discover an intriguing and interesting story.

Juli B. (Prosper, TX)

A story to savor in a quiet corner.
The storyline of this highly anticipated novel by respected writer Ursula Hegi is filled with mystical situations, poetic language, rich characterizations, and heartbreaking details about family relationships presenting readers with a truly emotional experience. The exquisite writing style is best savored in a quiet reading corner to appreciate the complex emotions of grief, unconditional love, and parenting that are unveiled slowly throughout a series of flashbacks as well as real-time dramatic moments. Losses are profound, but treated with beautifully detailed language that places words where only emotions generally live. Overall the storyline is often confusing. The timeline weaves a fairly complicated plot swirling around multiple characters and a sometimes choppy paragraph alignment moving too quickly between situations, but Lotte's belief in miracles will guide readers forward with hope that happiness will win over her crushing self-imposed guilt in the end.

Pamela F. (Sun City West, AZ)

Well done!
I have to agree with some of the other readers of this book. I, too, found it a little difficult to get into. But please stick with this one. So many interesting just want to dive into their lives. A good read indeed!

...7 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Ursula Hegi

Ursula Hegi is the author of thirteen books, including Stones from the River, Children and Fire, Floating in My Mother's Palm, and Tearing the Silence, and is the recipient of more than thirty grants and awards. She teaches in the Stony Brook MFA program and lives with her family on Long Island.

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