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Shadow Baby

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  281 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A powerful, moving story about motherhood, abandonment and guilt which casts a shadow across generations.
Born in Carlisle in 1887, brought up in a children's home and by reluctant relatives, Evie, with her wild hair and unassuming ways, seems a quiet, undemanding child.
Shona, born almost seventy years later, is headstrong and striking. She grows up in comfort and securit
Published November 28th 2000 by Penguin UK (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this well enough, but found Leah's antagonism towards her daughter a bit hard to believe. I suppose it takes all sorts to make the world. I found Hazel much more believable and I liked the way the two separate stories were eventually brought together.
Aug 09, 2010 rated it liked it
I recently reread this and downgraded it from a four to a three. This time around I just did not enjoy it as much. It is about abandoned babies in different eras. More importantly it is about why their mothers felt they had to give them away, and how they coped with that decision in later life. I felt that Evie, the child that was left behind in the nineteenth century, changed from being a lovely and well adjusted girl (considering what she had been through) to absolutely unhinged and acting out ...more
Cleopatra  Pullen
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favourite books of all times and one of the few that I re-read for sheer pleasure from time to time

The story is about two girls adopted 100 years apart, the reasons why they were adopted and how they and their mothers reacted to adoption.

During the book we get to know the girls and their mothers through their own narratives. This is an emotional story and I often think of the real Evie's that lived in the shadows because of the time and circumstance of their birth. I recommend
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love Margaret Forster's novels and this was no exception. The two stories are developed in parallel with a chapter devoted to each until the tales become more dramatic. I couldn't put it down and when my tablet ran out of charge (a real book never does) ended up reading the last few chapters on my phone as I had to know how it all worked out in the end! It really does make you think about the different mother-daughter connections, especially when unwanted pregnancies and adoptions are included ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Two daughters given up by their birth mothers, two stories of how they grew up. Two women who relinquished their babies, and what happened after that. Is a (birth) mother’s love superior to all other loves?

She’s one of my favorite writers. She really gets people.
Sandra Danby
A slow-build read which, by halfway, had me glued to the page. It is in part a story about unplanned pregnancy - choices, motherhood and how a girl grows to be a mother herself - and part social history. The history is the skeleton on which the flesh of the story hangs and inter-connects. Two young women fall pregnant, Leah in 1887 and Hazel in 1956. Both abandon their babies. ‘Shadow Baby’ by Margaret Forster is the story of Leah and her daughter Evie, Hazel and her daughter Shona. The circumst ...more
Clare Sullivan
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. Margaret Forster is a brilliant writer. I'm not a mother (a regret) nor am I adopted but I am a daughter and the development of the various relationships, the family connections, social pressures, is so beautifully written I read it in a couple of days. The way she develops the two stories concurrently is so moving I just had to continue reading until finished. Emotional and gripping.
Sarah Gregory
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book on holiday and it was good as holiday reading since I always wanted to pick it up and read more. Margaret Forster is brilliant at constructing a story. This novel is several, tied together near the end. And it is full of human experience especially that of mothers and daughters.
Christine Parker
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge, read-2018
Maybe 3.5. Reminiscent of Catherine Cookson
Sue Heaser
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Strong writing from a great author. Compelling and fascinating.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very touching story about the power of mother -daughter ties. Keeps you pondering long after the book is finnished.
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is my second Margaret Forster. I enjoyed Lady's Maid so much, I think I didn't seek out others because I didn't want to be disappointed! While Shadow Baby didn't appeal to me as much as Lady's Maid, I was still sucked into the story. Forster has a great knack for writing about women, for writing how they think and feel, but what is most unique is her ability to convey complicated relationships between women, which most novels boil down to simple elements like jealousy, envy, etc. Forster bl ...more
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Two girls who were abandoned as babys, and their two mothers. The girls want to find their mothers but the mothers don't want to be found. The stories are set 70 years apart and the two girls have quite different personalities but both have a tenacity in trying to find their mothers in common. You follow stories of these four people and see their different viewpoints. As a final twist, there is a connection between the two abandoned girls.
This is an excellent read and quite gripping - just like
Jan 28, 2011 rated it liked it
illegitimacy whether in the 1880s or 1950s was frowned upon. 2 babies born seventy years apart are given away by their mothers and in parallel stories Shadow Baby is about how this affects the lives and characters of both children and their mothers. Gripping and very sad.
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Margaret Forster will be much missed. After her death I tried to get hold of the few of her books I hadn't read. Shadow Baby was one and it didn't disappoint. Miss Forster was a wonderful story teller.
One of the most miserable books I've ever had the displeasure of reading. Long, dreary, overly dramatic and all the characters were unlikable. I really can't believe the bad light all the mothers were portrayed in. Awful!
Feb 07, 2009 added it
I read this awhile ago but I remember that I really got into it. It was one of those books that you feel you live in the time. Then when the real world needs your attention you have to shake your head to get back there.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Evie was born in 1887 and Shona born in was abandoned and one was given up at birth. Very good book
Myriel Morley
Jan 16, 2014 rated it liked it
exquisitely written, but for me, the plot and theme were harder to believe in and engage with. Nevertheless, another tour de force
Wangũi Ng'ang'a
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was one of those I pick because they look interesting, start on because of my ego,and finish because they are unbelievable. Evey went mad. That stayed in my head.
Jenny Tyler
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Ann Jones
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Lizzie Roach
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Jan 12, 2018
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Jan 05, 2018
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Mar 02, 2018
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Margaret Forster was educated at the Carlisle and County High School for Girls. From here she won an Open Scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford where in 1960 she was awarded an honours degree in History.

From 1963 Margaret Forster worked as a novelist, biographer and freelance literary critic, contributing regularly to book programmes on television, to Radio 4 and various newpapers and magazin

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