Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Foundling by Stacey Halls


Paperback370 pages                                                                                        
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Manilla - Bonnier Books UK
Source: Library
First Sentence: All the babies were wrapped like presents ready to be given.
Review Quote: Pacey, highly atmospheric and tantalisingly gripping from the very first page. The strands of tense and devastating maternal conflict are acutely observed and beautifully sustained throughout the book. Stacey really has created warm and memorable characters, drawn with great sympathy and understanding, who deliver a taut and riveting read. With rich storytelling and a compelling narrative, The Foundling is subtle, satisfying and intensely moving; a fabulous example of great historical fiction ― Laura Carlin, author of The Wicked Cometh
Main Characters: Elizabeth Bright and Alexandra Callard

Setting: Georgian London

My Opinion:

Having been introduced to this author by my Book Club last year and enjoying her debut novel ‘The Familiars’, I was keen to read this one. Engaging from the start with an intriguing storyline. The Foundling Hospital which gives the novel its title was established in London in 1739 by a philanthropist called Thomas Coram, as a home for babies whose parents were unable to care for them. 

It is here that the story starts in November 1747 when one of the two female protagonists, Bess Bright, a single mother takes her new-born daughter to the hospital. As far as Bess I concerned this is just a temporary measure, planning to return to reclaim her daughter when she can afford to do so.  Six years later she has saved enough, half a year’s wages, with which to pay for her daughter’s care, a requirement of removal. Imagine then her shock to discover she has already reclaimed her daughter.

What happens next will captivate you as we meet the other protagonist Alexandra. These two women as different as chalk and cheese both in lifestyle and temperament, turn out to be bound by a child and a secret.  A truly atmospheric read in terms of both the characterisation and the setting of Georgian London. Once again Stacey Halls has woven a story around historical truth, in this case the Foundling Hospital.

If you read Historical Fiction I can recommend this novel and Stacey Halls writing. I have already added her forthcoming title ‘Mrs England’ to my wish list as she is definitely an author to watch in the Historical Fiction genre.

Precis Courtesy of  Goodreads:

A mother's love knows no bounds. . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her new-born, Clara, at London's Foundling Hospital, young Bess Bright returns to reclaim the illegitimate daughter she has never really known. Dreading the worst - that Clara has died in care - the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl - and why.

Les than a mile from Bess' lodgings in a quiet town house, a wealthy widow barely ventures outside. When her close friend - an ambitious doctor at the Foundling Hospital - persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her - and will soon tear her carefully constructed world apart.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, 'The Foundling' explores families and secrets, class and power, and how the pull of motherhood cuts across them all.

Author Profile:

Stacey Halls was born in 1989 and grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, The Independent, The Sun and Fabulous. 

Her first book The Familiars was the bestselling debut novel of 2019. The Foundling is her second novel.

Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites:

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