Yesterday was Daylight Savings which meant I had an extra hour to read  Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford.


If you were a fan of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, you’ll like Songs of Willow Frost.

Ford, the grandson of a blackjack dealer and coat check girl, laces his novel with details about Chinese-American life in Seattle in the 1920s and 1930s.  He also gives you a look at the booming movie industry and the emotional cost of racism for entertainers during that time.

The mother-son saga describes the harsh circumstances that caused many parents to give up their children during the Great Depression.


Abandoned and homeless, children were placed in orphanages, many grim and Dickensian. In Ford’s ‘fictionalized’ Sacred Heart Orphanage, the children eat buggy oatmeal, are locked overnight in closets for bad behavior, and are allowed to ask about their families only on their birthday. (For the convenience of the staff, all the boys have the same birthday by decree, all the girls another one.) The orphanage is run by Sister Briganti, a tough, ruler-wielding nun who curses fluently in Italian and Latin and keeps a bottle of something stronger than communion wine in her desk drawer.

Did you know that author Wallace Stegner was left behind by destitute parents who promised to return? at the Sacred Heart Orphanage in Seattle?

Children who lose their parents are familiar characters in literature.  In some ways, their stories are common to us all.  As they grow up, they have to forge their own identities and find love and purpose in their lives.  But their circumstances are especially difficult ~ they must rely on themselves more than the average child. Their adventures are more dramatic, their triumphs more inspiring.

Literary Orphans I Have Known and Admired

Tobey Maguire as Homer Wells in Miramax's The Cider House Rules

Homer Wells in The Cider House Rules grows up in an orphanage run by an eccentric doctor.

Honest by nature, Oliver Twist falls into the hands of a criminal gang leader who tries to make him into a thief.

James Henry Trotter goes to live with two nasty selfish aunts after his parents are killed by a marauding rhinocerous.


The Ugly Duckling may be the most famous orphan of all. He’s adopted by a family of ducks who help him survive but resent him because he is different.

Lord Greystoke begins life deep in the jungle, born to young parents who perish before he is weaned. He is adopted by a kindly ape mother and lives with the animals for years.

Harry Potter, the most famous orphan in recent literature, is treated like dirt and made to sleep in the closet under the stairs.

when orphans overcome obstacles through their own efforts or with help from others,

it is out-of-this-universe inspiring. 

Who are some of your favorite literary orphans?


Meet you here next Sunday.

Toni 11/3/13

Day 3


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