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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.3 out of 5
5 Stars
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  • A Beautiful Piece of Storytelling

    When Bess Bright returns to The Foundling Hospital to retrieve the illegitimate daughter she left there six years ago, she discovers that Clara has already been taken by someone claiming to be her. Who would take a child that wasn't theirs, and how did they know who she was? Alexandra Callard never leaves her London townhouse, aside from Sunday mornings when she takes her daughter Charlotte to the Foundling chapel. Her decision to hire a nurse maid as a favour to a friend may charge everything. The Foundling is a truly captivating and beautiful historical novel. From chapter one I was desperate to know how this story was going to turn out. The characters are uniquely three dimensional, and the personal stakes are so high for everyone in this book, I had to read fast before I got too stressed. The two main women are so intensely different from each other, it was a pleasure to read two such well crafted POV's that created a fantastically rounded story. Again, as when I read The Familiars, I am amazed by Stacey Hall's ability to weave a historical era in the space of a few pages. The details are incredible, and I can't even imagine what goes into her research process. These books are genuinely transportative. I was fascinated by the way that by the last quarter of this book, I really couldn't figure out what I thought should happen. I was naturally on Bess's side from the start, but if I'm honest I also relate to Alexandra, and could feel her side of things more as the story wore on. Charlotte is such a sweet and innocent little one, I loved her transition from docile, never leaving home, to realising that she wanted more than Alexandra was willing to give her. Their personalities reflect each other in the way I see so many mother's and daughters, complementing each other and butting up against each other. For me, my only issue with the story is that I felt like the very end was a little rushed. I think I was happy with the actual conclusion, but it felt like the getting there was a little curtailed. Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I flew through it, and couldn't wait to finish. Halls has a beautiful gift for storytelling, and it feels like a privilege to get to enjoy her writing. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, Laura Purcell, or Mary Shelley.

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  • Fell in love instantly.....

    “The Foundling” is written by Sunday Times bestselling author Stacey Halls and is her second novel, after the success of “The Familiars” last year. Once again this book is attractively presented with a gorgeous cover and is guaranteed to be a beautiful addition to any bookshelf. Set in London 1754, this historical drama novel focuses on The Foundling Hospital where mothers took their young babies to hopefully be looked after, until they could return and buy them back. The opening pages really broke my heart and as a mother myself I could truly feel the torment of the young women, waiting to see if their baby would be lucky enough to be accepted. The resulting event after one such unlucky woman was so sad. Although I didn’t quite get the 18th century feeling, more the 19th, I did find the setting very atmospheric. Billingsgate came alive with the shouts of merchants shouting their varied fish and seafood offerings. I could smell and visualise the muddy pathways that seemed prevalent in every turn of the area, with the traps, carriages and horses that travelled on them. There was a lot of coincidence that benefited the plot but this didn’t distract me from the enjoyment of the story and I thought the author covered mental health issues like agoraphobia, PTSD and paranoia along with grief exceedingly well. Just showing that these issues did exist many many years ago, even if they weren’t diagnosed correctly. I fell in love with this book instantly and really enjoyed, I’d be happy to recommend Stacey Halls and her books and I hope to read more by her again in the future.

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  • Through The Dark Streets

    4.5 Stars First things first, this came so close to being my first 5 Star read of 2020. It was just a shame that the central theme of the book stretched plausibility far too thin and there is no way I could see that situation ever happening. Honestly, by giving it away to the reader before events unfolded on the page it strangely devalued the story. Even worse if it had been left as a twist in the tale at the end I would have moaned about that too so poor Ms Halls really can't win on this one. Overall this is a strong novel but it does feel like Historical Accuracy is played fast and loose with. This is the second book I have read that has The Foundling Hospital as a central theme and from the additional reading that led me on to previously the depiction of it's inner workings seems to be accurate. Although it may be a Central Theme it features only in brief snatches throughout the book as the story is really all about people. This is what the author does so well, she draws believable characters that live outside of the page and draw you in to their world. The best of these in this book is Bess Bright, you can really feel her struggle as she tries to come to terms with having to give her illegitimate daughter away. Her backstory is poignant without being cloying and when she goes to The Foundling to get her daughter, 627, back the reveal is as shocking for her as it is for the reader. Unfortunately, this is where the plot muddies and leaves the reader with a lot of questions. The main one I had is why any employer, no matter how odd, would take on an illiterate girl as a nursemaid for a 6 year old. It just doesn't ring true at all and despite the rather peculiar mode of life in the Callard House it just doesn't work. Throw in a rather gruesome explanation for Mrs Callard's hermit like existence and it does have a fair old whack of melodrama to it. As you can tell there are a lot of things that I perceived as flaws in this book. However, despite all this I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this world. Ms Halls can certainly weave a story and knows how to keep her readers entertained - even when their brains are going "Really, this isn't a telenovella you know". I know that the publisher's are pushing the "new Hilary Mantel" line but apart from Historical Fiction being their chosen fields these author's are chalk and cheese so please, I implore you, ignore that as it does everyone a disservice. To sum up this is a fun read that has a lot of flaws but that you somehow enjoy despite (or maybe because of) them. THIS IS AN HONEST AND UNBIASED REVIEW OF A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK SUPPLIED BY READERS FIRST.

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  • Oh wow

    What a journey! Full of twists and turns. Great characters and believable historical background. Well worth the read.

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