In Gone to an Aunt’s, journalist and long-time television host Anne Petrie takes us back into these homes for unwed mothers. Most cities in Canada had at least one home, several as many as five or six, most of them run by religious organizations. Here, in institutional settings, the girls were kept out of sight until their time was up and they could return to the world as if nothing had happened.
Seven women –including the author – recount their experiences in Gone to an Aunt’s, talking openly, some for the first time, about how they got pregnant; the reaction of their parents, friends, boyfriends, and lovers; why they wound up in a home; and how they managed to cope with its rules and regulations –no last names, no talking about the past –and the promise of salvation that could come only through work and prayer.
Gone to an Aunt’s is a profoundly moving and compassionate –even alarming – account. It comes as a reminder that we not get too wistful for the supposedly innocent times before the sexual revolution. That innocence, Petrie shows vividly, was a charade made believable only because the thousands of girls who had broken the rules were hidden away.
Review: I really enjoyed this book, especially the fact that it came with a Canadian perspective. The idea that being an unwed mother having a baby was so scandalous that you had to be sent away seems so silly now. The authour explains the story of 6 women and their journeys through the homes and system. This has always been a curious subject to me..what were the homes like? What did they do? Didn't anyone notice? The book tackles these questions and more. Unfortunately I did not like the way the story was laid out. I got confused about which girls were where as each chapter focused on a subject rather than a chapter per girl. At times the authour interviewed girls outside of the original 6. I rated the book four out of 5 stars on goodreads. The book has peaked my curiosity and I have been looking more into the subject.