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Novel set in London – The Foundling by Stacey Halls

  • Submitted: 4th February 2020

Enter the Foundling Hospital, London 1754

Novel set in London – The Foundling by Stacey Halls – When a novel comes along where the cover is a pure work of art, you hope the story inside will match. The Foundling is a novel that ticks both boxes and then some! Set in the real life Foundling Hospital in London which is now a  museum, the  story follows two women. One born in poverty with a child she has to give away, and another wealthy woman who refuses to leave her house. She reluctantly employs a nursemaid. Both women struggle with their lives and secrets come tumbling out. All the while, this mysterious Foundling Hospital and its role in society lingers…

BookTrail the locations in The Foundling

Novel set in London - The Foundling by Stacey Halls

BookTrail the locations in The Foundling

Setting: The Foundling Hospital London

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Novel set in London – The Foundling by Stacey Halls

That cover! Pure art! And I am happy to say, so is the story.

From the opening page, the story about Bess and her baby girl Clara, the writing, swept me wholeheartedly into another world. This world was a cruel one – London 1754, and a woman who has conceived a child out of wedlock is forced to give her up at the Foundling Hospital. Women go here in their droves, and pick a token from a bag. If it’s one colour, they get in and their baby is taken in ( health checks pending), another means they are on the waiting list until the babies are declared healthy. The third group are turned away. Here we see the poorest women, the most unfortunate babies and the chasm between rich and poor. When Bess prepared to pick up her child again after 6 years, I was excited for her. However she goes, only to find that a woman calling herself Bess went to the hospital the very next day and took the child! Oh the pain and the anguish I felt for Bess then!

London is evoked in its dank and dangerous glory. It reeks of inequality and poverty. Contrast part one which is firmly set in the area of Ludgate Hill to part two, where we meet the Bloomsbury wealth and the mysterious widow who refuses to leave her home. She reluctantly employs a nursemaid and you just know there are secrets and pain in that house. They seep through the plush wallpaper slowly but surely and into the streets where the carriage smash them up on the cobbles with the permanents of Bess’ story. What a depiction of two women’s stories and the London of that time.

BookTrail the locations in The Foundling

Both characters were very very strongly drawn and emotionally crafted. I was invested heavily in both of them throughout. So many times  I wanted to see and talk to these women myself and try and find out what was in their minds, but Stacey dripped that information slowly but surely at the right time. Gothic, glorious writing wrapped it all up in a smooth black bow.

And the real excitement I got from this book? I’d heard of The Foundling Hospital and the museum that still stands today. It’s clear that the author wanted to research and explore this in fiction and she’s  craft a really, interesting and emotional real. It felt personal, raw and very vivid and Bess’ search for her child was particularly  eventful

Masterful and a real reading treat.

BookTrail the locations in The Foundling

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Twitter:  @stacey_halls Web: www.staceyhalls.com/

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