Historical Fiction, Review

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

A riveting look at the orphan train from one of my favorite historical novelists, the Orphan Train series kicks off with book 1, With You Always by Jody Hedlund!

about the book

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

With You Always by Jody HedlundWhen a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.

The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

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my thoughts

One of my FAVORITE aspects of historical fiction is the spark that makes readers want to dig deeper into the history surrounding the story and find out more. Jody Hedlund consistently excels at creating that spark, bringing history to life while also crafting an authentic, entertaining, and heartwarming story.

The danger, destitution, and desperation of New York City’s poor immigrants during this period is vividly portrayed and contrasted against the abundant work opportunities available across the fresh, wide open expanses of central Illinois farmland. Elise Neumann’s life in the city is in a constant state of “between a rock and a filthy, hard place.” She and her younger sisters are literally fighting for survival while struggling to care for a pair of young orphans.

Thornton Quincy has the potential to become a great leader. Despite his ignorance of the hardships endured by the working class, his moral compass is true. Thornton has a lot to learn about the cost of a hard day’s work and he needs to weigh what he discovers against his father’s expectations for his business and future.

This story touched my heart and had me looking up old railroad maps from the time period. I’m eagerly anticipating each new story in this series and highly recommend this book!

I requested the opportunity to read this book through the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.


about the author

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

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Orphan Train series

An Awakened Heart With You Always by Jody Hedlund Together Forever by Jody Hedlund 


also available

Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund - Faithfully Bookish review


What year was your hometown (or current city) established? Was your town founded on a specific industry (railroad, farming, shipping, lumber, etc.)?
Did you add With You Always by Jody Hedlund to your tbr?

14 thoughts on “With You Always by Jody Hedlund”

  1. Mountain View, AR was founded in 1873. I don’t know about the past but now the city’s economy is largely based on tourism related to its title as the “Folk Music Capitol of the World”.


  2. Hi Beth!
    I love Jody Hedlund’s books & agree with your thoughts about her writing.

    I live in Frederick, Maryland, established in 1745 by German settlers. At the turn of the century it was known for it’s canning/tanning/knitting industries which were delivered by railroad to Baltimore.

    Blessings, Tina


  3. Our town was founded in about 1860. Most of the early settlers were farmers.

    With You Always was so fascinating. I loved all the historical details in it.


  4. I haven’t read this one yet but am eager to do so. I love when authors build stories around lesser known historical events. Also love Jody’s books based on real-life people.


  5. Our town was an old Indian settlement. It was also on the Wire Road– telegraph- between St. Louis and Springfield, MO. It was made from donated land in the early 1850’s.


  6. High Island, TX founded in 1843. Sits atop a salt dome about 45 feet above sea level. The Gulf and Interstate Railroad built a railroad to Beaumont along Bolivar Peninsula in 1886. Oil was discovered in 1916.


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