Title/Author: The Lost Orphan by Stacey Halls
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
In a nutshell (Publisher):
London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate newborn at the Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the daughter she has never known. Dreading the worst, that she has died in care, she is astonished to discover someone pretending to be Bess 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 poor lodgings, in a quiet Georgian townhouse, lives Alexandra, a reclusive young widow. When her close friend—an ambitious doctor at the orphanage—persuades her to hire a nursemaid to help care for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.
From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds.
Publication date: April 7, 2020
My verdict: I enjoyed it overall, mostly because I wanted to find out how this was going to get resolved in the end.
Bess, a shrimp seller, left her newborn at The Foundling Hospital, where babies were chosen on a lottery basis, based on the color of the ticket that was drawn. Bess’s baby, Clara, was accepted. Bess promised herself that she’d come back for Clara when she had saved enough money. Six years later she returned, only to find out that her baby had been claimed by someone posing as her. Shocked, dumbfounded and distraught, she sought help and was relieved when Doctor Mead, the grandson of the founder of The Foundling, offered his help.
The story then moved on to Alexandra’s, Charlotte’s mother. Alexandra was portrayed as cold, distant and guarded, and obsessed with her map and the safety of her home, which we later found out why. Although she had a good relationship with her younger sister, Ambrosia who was her total opposite – loud, boisterous and carefree, her relationship with Charlotte lacked warmth and tenderness. Charlotte was never let outside, never allowed to behave like a child, never allowed to play like one; just never allowed to be herself, or she’d be told off.
When Eliza was hired to be Charlotte’s nursemaid, the dynamics in Alexandra’s household changed and suddenly she felt left out. There seemed to be an unspoken, invisible strong bond between Charlotte and Eliza, and Charlotte had shown Eliza more love than she ever did with Alexandra. And Eliza started showing behavior which Alexandra thought out-of-line for a nursemaid.
Just like The Familiars (my review here), Halls made 1700’s London come to live with her descriptive writing – from the sounds and smells from the Victorian slums to the privileges and prestige of the rich. Once again she was able to transport me from one place to another, which I enjoyed. I think this was the strength of the book for me.
Although I found the ending a little too ‘tidy’, and there weren’t any one character which I particularly loved (except Lyle, who only appeared towards the last quarter of the book), or that it lacked heartrending moment, I enjoyed it overall, mostly because of the plot; I wanted to find out how the relationship between the women were going to get resolved in the end.
And one question still lingers – how did Eliza manage to convince Doctor Mead to help her get a job as Charlotte’s nursemaid, when Alexandra wasn’t even looking for one? I know she lied to get the job but is that all it took? I mean to ask for something as specific as a nursemaid for a particular child definitely needs more convincing than that. Am I missing something? PLEASE HELP ME IF YOU’VE READ THIS!!!
This is a story of motherhood and sacrifice, loss and love, and the lives of the poor and the rich in the 1700s. If you enjoy a slow-burn historical fiction, or if you enjoyed The Familiars, this one’s for you.Tweet
Thank you Harlequin MIRA and Netgalley for the invitation to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to? Please share with me your thoughts!
Meanwhile, I hope you and your family are staying safe & well! Stay home & stop the spread. Take care, wash your hands and happy reading!