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The Pink Bonnet

post written by Emma Filbrun

Title: The Pink Bonnet
Author: Liz Tolsma
Series: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crime
Major Themes: Adoption, Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, US History 1900-1950, Books for Women
Synopsis: When her tiny daughter suddenly disappears, Cecile finds herself involved in an investigation of such corruption that you will have a hard time believing it really happened.

In a way I like it when a book really grips me—and in another way I don’t! If it grips me so that I can hardly wait till I have a chance to pick it up and read another page or two, I know it’s well-written and a fascinating story. On the other hand, that means I get distracted somewhat from my primary role as a wife and mother! And, in the case of The Pink Bonnet, I might even lose sleep because I read “for just a few minutes” after I go to bed early—and then I realize that nearly an hour has passed! Oops. Yes, this is quite the story.

Cecile had lost her husband to illness; all she had left, since her parents hadn’t approved of her marriage, was her three-year-old daughter Millie. Life was hard, during the Depression, and she had a hard time finding work to support the two of them—but as long as she had Millie, life was good. Then one day she came home to collect Millie from the neighbor who watched her for a few hours and found that her daughter was gone.What could Cecile do to find her baby?

Soon, Cecile found herself in a situation she could never have dreamed of, after discovering that Miss Georgia Tann, from the Tennessee Children’s Home, had stolen Millie. With the help of Miss Tann’s lawyer, Cecile searched for her little girl, only to have hope snatched from her fingertips time after time. How many more children had the woman stolen? What happened to all of them? The story switches back and forth between several points of view, including homes where little girls had been adopted. Would Cecile ever see her baby again? Could she and the lawyer evade retribution from the evil woman they were investigating? Many parts of this story are absolutely heartbreaking.

I’ve read a number of accounts of children who were stolen when very young and sold to adoptive parents, and because of someone I know who discovered that she had been adopted in suspicious circumstances, I really wanted to read this story. The author has done a superb job of showing readers what was happening to children in Tennessee during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. I couldn’t believe the corruption present in the government and law enforcement agencies, and the heartlessness of those involved in the illegal adoptions. This is a horrifying book—and a well-written mystery with a light romance included.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and chose to write a review.

WARNING: Chapters 28-30 contain a lot of violence, and a woman is killed. In chapter 34, a kiss is described in great detail.

Age Levels:

Reading Independently—Adults


Links to buy The Pink Bonnet:

Amazon: Paperback | Kindle | Audible Audiobook (unabridged)

AbeBooks: View Choices on

Book Depository: Paperback | Hardcover


Adoption, Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, US History 1900-1950, Books for Women

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