Book Review: The Foundling by Stacey Halls

“These female vessels we inhabited: why did nobody expect them to contain unfeminine feelings? Why could we, too, not be furious and scornful and entirely altered by grief? Why must we accept the cards we had been dealt?”

Published in 2020, The Foundling by Stacey Halls is set in London, 1754, where, six years after leaving her daughter 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.

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Book Review: Mrs England by Stacey Halls

“Saying no can be ten times harder than saying yes, but it makes you feel a hundred times better.”

Published in 2021, Mrs England by Stacey Halls is set in West Yorkshire, 1904, when newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners. She hopes it will be the fresh start she needs, but as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.

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Book Review: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

“Sounds like a witch to me. How else would she know those things?”

Published in 2019, The Familiars by Stacey Halls is set in Lancashire in 1612 and follows newly-wed noblewoman Fleetwood Shuttleworth who, at the age of only 17, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance, she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft. Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence, but time is running out and both of their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

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