Saturday 8 February 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Foundling - Stacey Halls

Two women, bound by a child, 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, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed 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's 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 comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds . . .

What did I think?

Having raved on (in fact, I'm still raving) about Stacey Hall's amazing debut, The Familiars, I couldn't wait to get my hands on her second novel, The Foundling,  It's been the longest 5 months since I clicked that pre-order button but finally the most eagerly awaited book of 2020 landed on my door mat.  The cover is absolutely stunning and I love how each carefully chosen detail is of some relevance to the story.

Inside, I was delighted to find a map of Georgian London.  Oh how I love the addition of a map in a book!  It really helps to bring the story to life, although Stacey Hall's amazing writing doesn't need any assistance in that regard.  Stacey Halls' writing is so vivid that I swear I could smell the fish and brine of London's Billingsgate fish market where our main character Bess, is a shrimp seller.

What Stacey Halls brings to historical fiction is not only the ability to transport her readers back in time to the relevant period through her vividly described scenes, but it is her creation of strong relatable female characters, who span the class divide, that stands out for me.  Bess from the slums and wealthy widow, Alexandra, have more in common than they realise; I loved Bess from the start and it surprised me how my feelings towards Alexandra changed as the story progressed.

The mystery surrounding the collection of Bess's illegitimate daughter, Clara, from the Foundling Hospital (which interestingly is a real place) had me absolutely riveted.  Although it's mentioned in the synopsis, my jaw hit the floor when Bess turned up to collect her daughter and found that she had already been collected 6 years earlier by someone claiming to be Bess.  I really felt for her when she returned home for the second time without her daughter in her arms.  Bess doesn't take this lying down though; she is determined to find her daughter and enlists the help of a young doctor at the Foundling Hospital.  Together, they try to piece together the events from 6 years ago without realising that Clara is closer than they imagined.

Completely spellbinding, The Foundling exceeded my expectations in every single way.  It's an outstanding second novel from Stacey Halls who is a breath of fresh air in historical fiction.  My precious signed edition is sure to become a favourite on my bookshelf and will be re-read many times to re-experience Georgian London through Stacey Halls' eyes.  An unreserved 5 star rating and a very highly recommended read.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. 

She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at, and has also worked as a journalist for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine. TV rights of The Familiars shave been sold to The Bureau production company.

Bought in a nine-way auction, The Familiars was received with much praise and is nominated for an HWA award. 

Say hello @Stacey_Halls on Twitter and @StaceyHallsAuthor on Instagram.

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