This review is written with thanks to Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read and listen to The Foundling.
Two women from different worlds. 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 – 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.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Foundling as it’s quite different to what I would usually read, but every so often, when I step out of my comfort zone, I find a gem and that is what this book is. Halls’ writing is absolutely exquisite and she drew me into the 17th century with ease and told a fascinating story that I could not stop thinking about. Her research of the period is incredibly thorough and I found myself able to put myself in the shoes of the characters whose lives and values are so different to my own.
There are a wealth of characters in The Foundling who are all very different from each other. This is a strength of the novel as the detailed portrait of each character allows the reader to get to know them and understand why they act in the way they do. Bess and Alexandra take turns at narrating and this highlights the differences between them and their lives. These characters are brought to life brilliantly in the audio version by Laura Aikman and Hattie Morahan and I instantly felt able to relate to them and sympathise with them.
The Foundling is available from Amazon.