Blurb: “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 – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by 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’ 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.”
Page Count: 370
Genre: Gothic fiction / Historical fiction.
Goodreads Rating: 4.05/5
My Rating: 4/5
THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
This book was an impulse buy after going to Tesco’s and seeing their two for one book offer, I mean its a must right? And I am so glad I picked it up to the point where I am absolutely going to pick up the Author, Stacey Halls, other book ‘The Familiars’ which is also rated just as highly as this book! SO let’s get into it.
My first impression of this book was that I was expect tears and being upset. The story premise makes my heart race as you are transported back to the 1700s, imagine going back to collect your child to find someone had already claimed her? I’m not a mother, but I am sure if you are it would definitely cause a different type of distress reading this book. Although its a happy ending which did make my heart swell and I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would (I’m an emotional person okay? It doesn’t take much to make me cry!).
It was really, really interesting to learn about The Foundling Hospital and the fact that in the 1700’s this was a real place where if mothers could not afford to look after their child or they lived in poverty etc, they knew they were in good hands until they were fortunate enough to collect them, although unfortunately not all mothers and children are so lucky and eventually when the children are old enough and not collected they are placed into foster care. But at least there is hope for them still and they are cared for. I also enjoyed the historical chapter at the end where it tells you more about it, I never knew something like this existed and next time I am in London I am going to have a look at the foundling building and hopefully visit the museum also!
A strong point in the book was getting the perspective of both women. I felt I could connect and understand both women and how they felt better. I really loved Bess all the way through. Her character was smart, cunning and fantastic. not only that but strong too, to be able to deliver her child to the foundling hospital knowing she cant provide for her properly, I rooted for her throughout the entire book. Stacey Halls really showed that a mothers love knows no bounds as they say.
Therefore I feel there is also a small argument that she is a liar and deceiver when she starts to work for Alexandra, the widow and the woman who stole her child in the first place, as Charlotte’s nanny. This is Bess’s daughter. Of course Alexandra doesn’t know anything about Bess and the two come from completely separate world. But two world very easily merge into one, It’s an unfortunate story of two women who got tangled up in a mess they never expected and all because of a man. When Bess does steal her child back I quite frankly don’t blame her. But she did deceive Alexandra, who trusted her.
I feel character development for Alexandra is also quite significant all the way through, with her confined habits changing towards the end of the book I really feel she came into her own and more confident than the hermit/recluse she was before. Both women really contrast to each other completely, obviously in lifestyle but in personalities too. I thoroughly disliked Bess’s brother from the start, the top deceiver and drunkard. He deserved everything he got.
The storyline itself is incredibly gripping and I read this book in two days. I just couldn’t wait to know what happened and how the story went. I am so grateful for a happy ending and I know I said I was impressed with Alexandras character development and I firmly believe the ending contributes so massively to this. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I closed the book and recommended it to my mum straight away. I knew she would enjoy it.
For the fact I couldn’t put the book down and the storyline was so interesting and gripping, I gave this book 4 out of 5! Highly recommend you get it on your reading lists now!