The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls by Ursula Hegi
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 3.4 MB
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.
The couple so eager to adopt Tilli’s baby rush to the St. Margaret Home but must wait outside the infirmary.
“A very hard labor,” Sister Franziska whispers, “because Tilli is still a child herself.”
Herr Lämmle groans. “And if she can’t?”
“Cut her open?” Frau Lämmle cries.
“It may not be necessary.”
“I have to see Tilli,” says Frau Lämmle.
Sister Franziska hesitates.
“I won’t do anything to upset her,” Frau Lämmle promises, and already she’s at the door, tiptoes in, crying without a sound.
Sister Franziska follows. “But if I ask, you must leave right away.”
Tilli is screaming, throwing herself from side to side.
“Does she have to suffer like this?” asks Frau Lämmle.
Tilli waves her close. “What if it’s born without a face?”
“It’ll have a beautiful face.”
“What if it’s born with a harelip?”
“Oh, Tilli—” Sweaty curls stick to Frau Lämmle’s temple. “My husband and I will love our baby, no matter what.”
The Lämmles used to visit the St. Margaret Home, holding and rocking babies. Wrapping them and unwrapping them. Practicing so they’d be competent once they found the right child. Yet always leaving without one. Until they met Tilli. They’re old enough to be her parents, at least thirty, apricot freckles and hair so much like Tilli’s that she can picture the child they’d make if they could.
“Yours is one of the lucky babies,” they say to Tilli.
“Already chosen before birth because you have good posture.”
“And good sense.”
It matters to Tilli how much the Lämmles want her baby—no matter how hideous. “What if it’s born … with just one arm?” she asks Frau Lämmle.