A little while ago I had to have a stern word with myself. I had to remind myself that I can’t do every single blog tour that comes my way.
But sometimes a blog tour lands in the inbox that I practically beg to be involved in! The Foundling was one such book. Having read Stacey Halls incredible debut novel The Familiars last year i couldn’t wait to get on her newest offering.
It did not disappoint.
From the very minute I opened the book I was drawn in. Stacey Hall’s historic London pulled me into it’s spell and held me there.
The story begins with Bess, an unmarried and desperately poor woman, taking her child to The Founding Hospital, hoping they will agree to care for her. Leaving the baby girl, Clara in their care she leaves a token and a promise. A promise that she will return to reclaim her daughter when her circumstances improve.
Fast forward 6 years. Finally Clara has enough resources to reclaim her daughter. She arrives at the Hospital full of hope, only to be told her daughter was claimed by her mother the very day after her entry, six years previously. How is this possible?
Other than to say that the plot is beautifully crafted, I don’t want to give very much away about the plot at all. It is enough to say that from the beginning it is a story of mysteries and I don’t want to spoil any of them!
The story is set in London of the 1700’s. The setting is skilfully depicted as a city of two halves. The rich living comfortably, often extravagantly, the poor just about surviving. This juxtaposition of London life is immediately portrayed within the four walls of the Foundling Hospital. Bess takes her newborn to be entered in to the admission lottery, racked by both physical and emotional pain. That same impossible lottery is source of entertainment for the wealthy patrons of the hospital, all gathered to witness the women bringing their children and asking for help.
This duality forms the very core of the novel. Rich compared with poor. Two mothers, Bess, poor, a street hawker and Alexandra a rich widow; two backgrounds. The Foundling raises questions about what does it take to be a good mother. Through these two women we explore the many faces of motherhood. Stacey Halls asks us to consider whether material comfort alone can replace the bond of a mother whatever their circumstance. Or does every child deserve the chance to escape the crippling poverty if they are given the chance.
Through two heartfelt and beautifully crafted portraits of two very different women the role of nature and nurture is explored. How does the experience of a women’s own life shape her ability to be a mother to her own children ?
I have made no secret of my love for historical fiction. It makes up a considerable portion of my reading material, and done well I think it is hard to beat.
The Foundling is a superb example of it’s genre. From the beginning the impeccable research is apparent. Each detail highlighting the skill of an author who not only takes the time to build the foundations of their novel but weaves the knowledge in a meaningful and relevant way.
There is no research dumping to be found here, just tantalising nuggets of information which add to the overall beauty of the book and, like all the best historical fiction, make you want to find out more.
The Foundling is a quite simply a beautiful book. It is the kind of book you will remember long after reading and the kind of book you will recommend throughout the year.
And there is more…
For other great reviews of this winning novel check out the rest of the blog tour below…