Book Review: The Orphanage Girls

Mary Wood ~ The Orphanage Girls


Ruth dares to dream of another life – far away from the horrors within the walls of Bethnal Green’s infamous orphanage. Luckily she has her friends, Amy and Ellen – but she can’t keep them safe, and the suffering is only getting worse. Surely there must be a way out?

But when Ruth breaks free from the shackles of confinement, hoping to make a new life for herself, she finds that life can be just as tough on the outside.

Bett keeps order in this unruly part of the East End – and takes Ruth under her wing alongside orphanage escapee Robbie. But it is Rebekah, a kindly woman, who offers them a home – something neither have ever known. Yet even these two stalwart women cannot protect them when the police learn of an orphan on the run. It is then that Ruth must do everything in her power to hide.

Her life – and those of the friends she left behind at the orphanage – depends on it.


If one were to judge this book by its cover, one might expect a saccharine tale of an orphan finding their family.

However, this book is much, much darker. While there is hope, friendship and courage the majority of the book is dedicated to the real horrors of Victorian London.

As with most tales of orphans, our heroine Ruth tries to do her best for the other girls, despite the hunger and abuse they all face. Although much of this is hinted at, we really feel the children’s sense of despair.

There are a lot of characters. At times it feels as though there are too many, as Ruth’s friends Amy and Ellen are all but forgotten by the end of the book. Others become more significant as time goes by.

That said, in the second half of the book the characters start to work well together – they’re so rich it’s hard not to be invested. Rebekah, Hettie and Abraham all have their own struggles but the wide variety in backgrounds provides an interesting insight into Victorian society.

There’s also a lot going on. We have child abuse, racism, rape, suicide, forbidden love, violence and more… all in what is a relatively short book.

While a few elements of the plot could have been removed, overall it works and is really enjoyable. Characters are rich and their journey to overcome the various obstacles that they face is heartwarming and also heartbreaking.

However, the word ‘mate’ is used far too often (featuring in pretty much every piece of dialogue) and is really irritating. Had I not been invested in the story, I probably would have given up on the book, as it really affected my overall enjoyment of the story.

As a whole it’s a good read and the darker themes a welcome change; one incident in particular is quite shocking and I’m still not fully recovered!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Book from Pan Macmillan as part of Random Things Tours. Opinions my own.

31 thoughts on “Book Review: The Orphanage Girls

  1. Thank you so much for this honest review. I am sorry there were elements that irritated you. That’s very sad.

    However it was so nice to read how much you were invested in the story. And that you wanted more of Amy and Ellen. They are so important to Ruth but as they weren’t physically there then difficult to weave them in too much.
    However, each have a book of there own in further books in the series and gradually all three girls will feature more strongly especially in the last book when Amy brings a conclusion to the girls story. Thank you for your support of my book. Much love Mary xxx


    1. Thanks Mary!
      Ooh how exciting – I was going to ask if there were more books to come as I’d definitely be interested to see what becomes of Amy and Ellen! ☺️


  2. Loved this book from start to finish needed the tissues a few times as the story unfolds i gave this 5 stars and cant wait for ellens story in the next book brilliant as usual mary x


  3. Mary’s books never dissapoint and always leave you wanting more. Her stories always stay with you,unforgettable!


    1. Well i have read the review, and i don’t know what to do now. I useually wait buy all the books that i know are in a series, then, read them straight one after the other. Bu8t this review has got me so i want to buy the book now, and read it right now. It sounds a brilliant read xx


  4. Good honest review but I cannot wait to read it everybody have different views on books love your books Mary. Xxxx


  5. Another fabulous book by Mary Wood, my book has arrived and I can’t wait to read this fabulous book, thank you Mary, keep writing ✍️ and sharing your thoughts and wonderful books 📚 with us all xxx


  6. One person will always review a book differently to another! I am looking forward to this series after following the lives of the girls from the Jam Factory.


  7. I am reading Mary’s new book at the moment and I am really enjoying it; it is also very much needed at the moment.
    I always lose myself in Mary’s books and this is a fantastic start to a new series!
    I am loving being with Ruth, sharing the highs and the lows of her life, and I am really looking forward to reading Ellen’s and Amy’s stories.
    Thank you for sharing your review, and also thanks to Mary. xxx


  8. Going to buy this book, every book I have read of your’s Mary has been gripping and haven’t been able to put it down, thank you


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