Thank you to NetGalley, Bonnier Books UK and Manilla Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything . . .
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.
Stacey Halls is the Queen of Historical Fiction. When I heard that she was writing another book, I was desperate to read it and boy was it worth the wait!
We follow Bess through her mission to find her daughter, catapaulting her from the streets of London into high society. Each POV and setting has its own voice; distinguished and marking the glaring contrasts between the classes. Even the way Bess speaks contrasts with other characters and I love this subtle world-building as it makes it all the more real to me!
The second POV, Alexandra, follows a well-to-do widow and her daughter. I loved the difference between Bess and Alexandra’s lives, but also how both have had struggles throughout. Alexandra’s agoraphobia and PTSD were sensitively handled, showing how illnesses such as these can have a profound effect on those suffering and also those who live with and are friends with them. Halls has a way of making even characters of moral ambiguity sympathetic, blurring the lines of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters which fascinates me!
The way Halls doesn’t flick between the two narratives makes it easier to get sucked in to the story, giving us time to form a connection with each character and understand their motives and reasonings behind their actions. There is an ever-present tension throughout the story which doesn’t abate until the satisfying conclusion. I would happily read a sequel of Bess’ life after the events in The Foundling just to stay connected to these wonderful characters!
This tale twists and turns, creating a tapestry of fantastically researched details which transport you into the story unlike anything I’ve read prior to picking up a book by Stacey Halls. Her ability to create such a strong commentary on class, gender and motherhood whilst weaving such a beautiful story astounds me – a true genius!
I throughly enjoyed this book and gave it 5 stars. Stacey Halls has definitely become an author I will always read and re-read!
This book was released on 6th February, go and grab your copy from your nearest bookshop!