Release Date: February 20th 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars
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.
From the bestselling author of The Familiars, and set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood.
The Familiars by Stacey Halls was one of my favourite books of 2019 so when I heard she was releasing a new book I was incredibly excited. The story follows a young woman named Bess, who is forced to leave her newborn baby at the foundling hospital to be looked after. After six years of scrimping and saving, she returns to reclaim the illegitimate child, only to be told that the child was reclaimed the day after she was given to the hospital by Bess herself. Bess goes on a search to discover who has taken her daughter, and for what purpose. Meanwhile not far from the hospital lives the widow of a merchant who has become a recluse since the death of her husband. When a family friend persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, it turns her world upside down and forces her to confront the truths from her past.
This beautifully told story captured me from the very begin and I very quickly became engrossed in the tale of Bess and Alexandra. Halls has a really gorgeous and vivid writing style and it was so easy just to sink into the story and be completely absorbed for hours on end. I loved the setting, it was so vibrant and really came alive in Halls writing. The sights and sounds of Georgian London were definitely brought to life in this story and it made for a very realistic and well researched read.
The two main characters in this book are both incredibly fascinating and I really enjoyed the way the book was split into parts, allowing you to see things from both women’s perspectives. They’re both very different people, but both have dealt with some really difficult things. The plot was cleverly weaved and well executed and towards the end I definitely found myself turning pages faster and faster to find out how it was going to end.
I loved that there were aspects of the story that were true to life – such as the foundling hospital (something I had never heard of before – and that the story explored issues that weren’t talked about at the time, like mental health and grief. The story is definitely a dark and atmospheric read and if you’ve read The Familiars I would absolutely recommend picking this one up. The Foundling is an intricately told story of motherhood, secrets and class and honestly I couldn’t put it down. I can’t recommend this highly enough and I can’t wait to see what Stacey Halls writes next.