Cover Image for The Orphan Collector

An astonishingly timely and ultimately exultant tale of resilience and hope amidst the tragic influenza pandemic of 1918…

The Orphan Collector

filled star filled star filled star filled star Star half-filled (647)
Print copy

With vivid writing, immediately absorbing characters, and surprisingly timely issues around immigration, privilege and the frightening pandemic we face today, Ellen Marie Wiseman weaves a powerful tale of resilience and hope set in Philadelphia during the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak – the illness that went on to infect one-third of the world’s population…

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded slums and the anti-immigrant sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army. But as her city celebrates the end of war, an even more urgent threat arrives: the Spanish flu. Funeral crepe and quarantine signs appear on doors as victims drop dead in the streets and desperate survivors wear white masks to ward off illness. When food runs out in the cramped tenement she calls home, Pia must venture alone into the quarantined city in search of supplies, leaving her baby brothers behind.

Bernice Groves has become lost in grief and bitterness since her baby died from the Spanish flu. Watching Pia leave her brothers alone, Bernice makes a shocking, life-altering decision. It becomes her sinister mission to tear families apart when they’re at their most vulnerable, planning to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

Waking in a makeshift hospital days after collapsing in the street, Pia is frantic to return home. Instead, she is taken to St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum – the first step in a long and arduous journey to find her way back to her remaining family. As Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost in the months and years that follow, Pia must confront her own shame and fear, risking everything to see justice – and love – triumph at last. Powerful, harrowing, and ultimately exultant, The Orphan Collector is a story of love, resilience, and the lengths we will go to protect those who need us most.

“Blistering, moving and profound…an extraordinary exploration of the plight of immigrants, as two very different women grapple with finding, keeping, and changing their place in the world.”
—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beautiful World

“An immersive historical tale with chilling twists and turns.”
—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

“Sensational...The Orphan Collector is a story of tragic loss and the incredible strength and determination required to carry on.” —Bill Reilly, The River’s End Bookstore

“Filled with raw emotion that left me utterly speechless.” —Marianne Colton, Lockport Public Library

Estimated Ship Date for Winners: May 18th, 2020


© Kimberly Schuldt

Ellen Marie Wiseman

Ellen Marie Wiseman is the bestselling author of highly acclaimed historical fiction novels including What She Left Behind, The Plum Tree, Coal River and The Life She Was Given, which was a Great Group Reads selection of the Women’s National Book Association and National Reading Group Month. Born and raised in Three Mile Bay, a tiny hamlet in Northern New York, she’s a first-generation German American who discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in New York State. Since then, her novels have been translated into eighteen languages and published worldwide. A mother of two, Ellen lives on the shores of Lake Ontario with her husband and dogs.

Book Details

Publisher Kensington Publishing Corp.
Genre Historical Fiction
Publication Date Aug 04 2020
ISBN 9781496715869


First Impressions

Books of the Same Genre