In-Store Signing with Justine Cowan, author of The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames

Event Image: 

Justine Cowan will sign copies of the remarkable true story of how she uncovered her mother's upbringing as a foundling at London's Hospital for the Maintenance and Education of Exposed and Deserted Young Children. This signing will take place in the Malaprop's cafe area and we will have plenty of copies of The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames on hand. Join us! 

The story begins when Justine found her often volatile mother in an unlit room writing a name over and over again, one that she had never heard before and would not hear again for many years - Dorothy Soames. Thirty years later, overcome with grief following her mother's death, Justine found herself drawn back to the past, uncovering a mystery that stretched back to the early years of World War II and beyond, into the dark corridors of the Hospital for the Maintenance and Education of Exposed and Deserted Young Children. Established in the eighteenth century to raise "bastard" children to clean chamber pots for England's ruling class, the institution was tied to some of history's most influential figures and events. From its role in the development of solitary confinement and human medical experimentation to the creation of the British Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts, its impact on Western culture continues to reverberate. It is the reason we read Dickens' Oliver Twist and enjoy Handel's Messiah each Christmas.

It was also the environment that shaped a young girl known as Dorothy Soames, who bravely withstood years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a sadistic headmistress--a resilient child whose only hope would be a daring escape as German bombers rained death from the skies.

Heartbreaking, surprising, and unforgettable, The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames is the true story of one woman's quest to understand the secrets that had poisoned her mother's mind and her startling discovery that her family's fate had been sealed for centuries before.

Justine Cowan was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Growing up wandering through California's majestic redwood forests, she became a passionate environmentalist and has spent most of her career working to protect our nation's natural resources. Justine is grateful to her readers and enjoys interacting with them through book clubs and social media. Visit her website at to learn more about how to schedule a virtual visit for your next book club gathering.

Event address: 
Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe
55 Haywood St.
Asheville, NC 28801
The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062991010
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - January 12th, 2021