”Like the Thames tide the city had a temperament, and it could give or take.” – Stacey Halls, The Foundling.
Another absolutely brilliant story by Stacey Halls. After just reading her debut novel “The Familiars” which blew my mind away, I wondered if this book would give the same punch the first one gave and I was not disappointed. I have found a new author to follow in Stacey Halls.
24 hours after Beth gives birth a baby girl, she goes to the Foundling hospital to keep her in their care until she is financially stable enough to take her back and look after the child herself. Six years later, true to her word, Beth goes back to the Foundling to claim her child but is faced with the horrifying news that the records show Clara her little girl has already been claimed and by Beth herself. With the help of the ever so kind Dr. Meade from the hospital who takes pity on Beth, She is given the position of a nurse maid in the home of Alexandra who happens to be the widow of David, the father of Beth’s missing child.
The story unfolds as Beth and Alexandra, two women from extremely opposite social classes of society, weave an astounding tale from different perspectives on how their lives have been accidentally entwined by events that they both have no control over and they both have to fight for what seems most dear to their hearts.
Set in 18th century London, this is a story of the unwavering love of a mother, betrayal, mental health issues, class, hardship and oppression. The characters were well developed, believable and relatable and the story well paced. The author’s attention to detail especially in a bid to show the disparity in societal standards at the time is highly commendable. I was captivated by the story from the beginning and couldn’t stop till the end. The author has done a good job in capturing yet another part of hisory that is less told and I hope to visit the Foundling hospital and Museum when next I get a chance to visit London. I listened to the audio book on Audible and the narrators made the experience more pleasurable with the different accents and tones.
Beth was a very courageous and passionate young lady despite the hand that life had served her. She was my favorite character. Alexandra on the other hand was my least favorite. Although towards the end of the story, I was able to empathize with her short comings a little bit, the fact still remained that she committed a crime that she never really felt remorseful over thus, it still didn’t change my mind about her overall character.
What I didn’t like about the story was the revelation at the end. I had expected something more shocking after all the drama that went on and even though the explanation was not shabby , it was not great either. This made me take away the 0.5 from the anticipated 5 stars rating I believed it should have received from me.
Overall, It still stands as one of the best books I have read this year. If you love historical fiction from authors like Philippa Gregory, you will love this book. This is a really good one book and I highly recommend.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Published: February 18th, 2020 by MIRA
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase @ www.amazon.com/thefoundling
The Author: Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel