The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood.
Two women from different worlds. 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 – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by 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’ 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.
This was our first audiobook and we all enjoyed listening to it. The descriptive writing and characterisations were engaging with power, privilege, isolation, poverty, love and trauma as the key themes. As an example of historical fiction, we each responded differently to how the basic, factual framework was treated. Some felt that the ending in particular was improbable given the time and social mores, others enjoyed the ‘happy ending’, feeling that the characters had developed empathy and understanding. The story touched each of us and led to meaningful discussion.
Read by the MJ Readers Book Club