From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Familiars. Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything …
Starting in 1747, Bess leaves her new born baby Clara at the Foundling as impoverished, she has no means to raise it out of wedlock. She does however plan and save to return for her daughter as soon as she can. When she returns 6 years later, Bess discovers to her horror that someone claiming to be the child’s mother had collected her the day after she was originally left!

Bess returns to the Foundlings to determine how this could have happened and a kindly doctor supports her cause in investigating further. Whether he suspects anything or otherwise he arranges for Bess to act as handmaid to an agoraphobic, wealthy widow, who has a child Charlotte, 6 years old…

As Stacey Halls reveals more about the characters and their backgrounds the pain and turmoil of their lives has a profound effect on each other. The mystery of how Alexandra managed to unwittingly obtain the child is begging to be told and the tangle of their lives creates an emerging mystery that is difficult to put down. Bess is uneducated, with good principles and naturally likeable. Alexandra is damaged, bitter, intolerant yet haunted by her undesirable actions and behaviours. The characters make for an intriguing mix when brought together, given all the differences in their lives. It makes it a unique and transfixing read. It is inspired by the real Foundling Hospital, opened in 1735 as a children’s home established for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children.”

Sara Garland 5/4*

The Foundling by Stacey Halls
9781838770068 Manilla Press ebook February 2020