Author Janet Benton will be read from her debut novel, Lilli de Jong, Thursday, June 15, at 7 p.m. at Watchung Booksellers, 54 Fairfield Street in Montclair. Benton, who will be introduced by Montclair resident and best-selling author Christina Baker Kline, will also give a short talk and participate in a Q&A.

Set in 1883 Philadelphia, the novel tells the story of Lilli, an unwed Quaker, who had first planned to give up her daughter to avoid a life of shame and poverty. But after giving birth at an institution for unwed mothers (based on an actual Philadelphia institution), she becomes unwilling to give up the child, who by then has become the most powerful love of her life. Lilli de Jong is in the form of her diary.

Kirkus Reviews calls the novel a “monumental accomplishment” and “an absorbing debut from a writer to watch.” Library Journal, in a starred review, writes, “Benton has written a captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother’s love and the stark reality of the choices she must make.” Shelf Awareness calls it “a gorgeous paean to the fierceness and courage of a mother’s love.”

Christina Baker Kline said Lilli de Jong is “beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute. . . . A gripping read,” and fellow New York Times bestselling author Jamie Ford calls Benton’s novel “a powerful, authentic voice for a generation of women whose struggles were erased from history. A heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.”

Read the opening pages of Lilli de Jong and contact the author for events or book-group visits at