The Foundling by Stacey Halls | Blog tour review #TheFoundling

Published by Manilla Press
Available in Ebook and Hardback and audio formats (6 February 2020)
400 pages
Source: My own purchased copy

ABOUT THE BOOK

Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything . . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her 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 tear her carefully constructed world apart.

From the bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds . . .

MY THOUGHTS

I love historical fiction and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of this – especially since it was based around The Foundling Hospital in London. Ever since reading about the hospital in another book, I’ve been both intrigued and saddened by the whole concept of the acceptance of babies on the basis of a lottery and the picking of a particular coloured ball.  If a desperate mother picks the right colour, and her child passes the medical, the hospital will accept her child, along with a token, whether it be a scrap of fabric or a small distinguishable item so that the child may be identified should the mother ever be in a position to reclaim the child at a future time.

This is exactly what 18 year old Bess Bright does when she reluctantly leaves new-born baby Clara at the hospital; with no means of supporting the baby she has no choice however after saving up for 6 years to pay the fee in order to reclaim her, she is heartbroken and totally bewildered to be told that someone giving her name had already claimed her daughter.

There are two main characters whose stories intertwine – shrimp seller Bess and a widow, Alexandra, whose rich and comfortable lifestyle in Bloomsbury is a million miles away from that of Bess who lives in two rooms with her father and brother in the poorest part of the city. Alexandra has a young daughter Charlotte, and although money may be plentiful in their household, it is clear that love is not.

The Foundling has clearly been extensively researched and this shows through in the vivid descriptions and attention to detail of the characters and lifestyle and the differences between the rich and the poor in 18th century London. The two women are so very different – Bess with her naturally loving nature and Alexandra cold and remote. Initially I didn’t like Alexandra at all, but the more I found out about her, it became clearer why she behaved as she did. However my sympathies were always with Bess and her heartbreaking situation.

I’m sure that The Foundling will be a huge success for the author, as it deserves to be. It is beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed being taken back in time to Georgian London to be totally engrossed by Bess’ plight and this captivating story of a mother’s love for her daughter. 

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to take part in the tour.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

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