I’m beyond excited to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for brilliant historical novel The Foundling by Stacey Halls. Thank you to Tracy Fenton and Zaffre Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this stunning book.
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 . . .
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.
As someone who adored Stacey Halls debut novel The Familiars, I jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog tour for her new book The Foundling. Although very different to her first book, The Foundling is every bit as good, with the beautiful writing drawing you into the story from the very first page.
I had a vague knowledge of The Foundling Hospital in London, but this book took that knowledge to a whole new level. It’s shocking to believe that a place like this actually existed, with babies being accepted or rejected based on a lottery system. The whole concept is intriguing but horrifying, and I can’t even begin to imagine the anguish those poor mothers must have gone through.
Each mother must pick a coloured ball out of a bag. If she picks out a white ball and her child passes the medical, the hospital will accept that child, along with a token – some sort of memento that can be easily recognised – so that the child can be identified if the mother’s circumstances change and she’s able to reclaim her baby. But if she picks out a black ball, her baby will be rejected, with no hope of ever gaining entry. The final colour is red, which gives the mother the opportunity to wait and see if any babies fail the medical, or are older than six months, so her child can be considered instead.
It’s brutal and heartbreaking, but this is the position 18 year old Bess Bright finds herself in after the birth of her baby, Clara. With no means of supporting her, she has no choice but to take part in the humiliating lottery at The Foundling Hospital. Clara is accepted, but six years later Bess has managed to save enough money to be able to reclaim her daughter. But on arrival, she is heartbroken and bewildered.to discover that someone claiming to be her had already taken Clara – the day after Bess had left her there.
What follows is an intricate and well researched tale that follows two very different women whose stories are deeply intertwined, as what happened to Clara is slowly revealed. Warm hearted Shrimp seller Bess has very little but is desperate to find her daughter, whereas widow Alexandra lives a rich and comfortable lifestyle with her daughter, Charlotte, in one of the better parts of town. Stacey Halls exquisite writing and attention to detail brings 18th Century London vividly to life, with the differences between the lifestyles of the rich and poor becoming even more apparent as the story progresses.
The two women are as different as night from day, with Alexandra being cold and aloof, which is the complete opposite of the lovely Bess, who is warm and loving. I found it very difficult to like Alexandra, although I did come to understand her better as the story continued. But I warmed to Bess from the outset and felt every emotion right along with her, becoming almost as desperate as she was for her to have the happy ending she craved.
The Foundling is a captivating story that had me enthralled from beginning to end. A complex and beautiful tale of a mother’s love for her daughter that I would thoroughly recommend. Stacey Halls has shown once again that she is a gifted storyteller and I can’t wait to see what this talented author will come up with next.
A stunning historical novel to remember.
The Foundling by Stacey Halls is available to buy now: Amazon UK
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