, Best Historical Fiction 2017
NPR, Best Books of 2017Bustle
, "The 17 Best Debut Novels by Women 2017"
Finalist, The Langum Prize in Historical Fiction 2017
"Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute, Lilli de Jong
is the story of an unwed mother in late 19th-century Philadelphia who, facing peril at every turn, will do almost anything to keep her daughter alive. Benton turns a laser eye to her subject, exposing the sanctimony, hypocrisies, and pervasive sexism that kept women confined and unequal in the Victorian era--and that still bedevil many women today. A gripping read." --Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World
"A stunning ode to motherhood. Lilli de Jong
reminds us that there is no formula to being a good mother. Love is the essential ingredient, and only it gives everlasting life to our legacies. A debut of robust heart that will stay with me for a very long time." --Sarah McCoy, author of The Mapmaker's Children
"Janet Benton's remarkable novel Lilli de Jong
is historical fiction that transcends the genre and recalls a past world so thoroughly that it breathes upon the page. From the first sentence, Lilli's sensitive, observant, determined voice casts an irresistible spell. Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold--though reader, be warned: Lilli's story may break your heart." --Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste
"[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Lilli's fight to craft her own life and nurture her bond with her baby is both devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful. A stunning read about the fierceness of love triumphing over a rigid society." --Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow
"A captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother's love . . . A great choice for book clubs and readers of Geraldine Brooks."--Library Journal (starred review)
"The trials Lilli undertakes to keep her baby are heart-rending, and it's a testament to Benton's skill as a writer that the reader cannot help but bear witness. In a style reminiscent of Geraldine Brooks, she seamlessly weaves accurate historical detail as well as disturbing societal norms into the protagonist's struggles . . . An absorbing debut from a writer to watch."--Kirkus Reviews
"A heartrending debut . . . Benton's exacting research fuels Lilli's passionate, authentic voice that is 'as strong as a hand on a drum . . . that pounds its urgent messages across a distance' . . . Lilli's inspiring power and touching determination are timeless."--Publishers Weekly
"A harrowing look at the strictures of nineteenth-century American society. . . . [Lilli] is a full-fledged heroine, persevering despite seemingly insurmountable odds. . . her voice is distinctive, her fierceness driven by a mother's love."
this novel. Lilli de Jong
is deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous. Janet Benton has an exceptional ability to bring history to life . . . It's not only a compelling, beautifully crafted historical novel, however: it's also important . . . Lilli's life-and-death struggle is shockingly common to women even today."--Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy
"Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr, debut novelist Janet Benton magically weaves a gripping narrative of hardship, redemption, and hope while illuminating a portrait of little-known history. The result is an unforgettable and important reflection on the maternal and, ultimately, the human bond. Stunning!" --Pam Jenoff, author of The Kommandant's Girl
"[Lilli's] clear-eyed view of her situation and her fearless questioning of a repressive system makes for exhilarating reading . . . Lilli De Jong
has real resonance in today's battles over women's reproductive health and the rights of working mothers."-- BookPage
"A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader."--The Millions
"This is both a super lush historical novel and an amazing feminist manifesto. Buy this for your mom, buy this for your boyfriend, buy it for everyone."
"A new feminist classic for Trump-era America."
"A gorgeous paean to the courage and ferocity of a mother's love, Lilli de Jong pays homage to the solace of writing through troubling times and will haunt readers long after its denouement."