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The Foundling

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  361 ratings  ·  147 reviews
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
ebook, 400 pages
Published February 18th 2020 by MIRA
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Average rating 4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  361 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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Miriam Smith
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Foundling” is written by Sunday Times bestselling author Stacey Halls and is her second novel, after the success of “The Familiars” last year.
Once again this book is attractively presented with a gorgeous cover and is guaranteed to be a beautiful addition to any bookshelf.
Set in London 1754, this historical drama novel focuses on The Foundling Hospital where mothers took their young babies to hopefully be looked after, until they could return and buy them back. The opening pages really
Liz Barnsley
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent atmospheric historical novel about a mother's search for her child.

Full review to follow for the tour.
Beth Pennington
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have been so excited to read this new read by @staceyhallsauthor and I wasn't dissapointed!

1.Stacey is fantastic at writing about historical points of history that are lesser are known and creating fantastic fictional accounts from this. I had never heard of The Foundling Hospital and the museum that still stands today. But this book has made me want to explore that history more, as devestating as it is. When I met her, Stacey explained how moved she was by the tragic history here, and I think
Fay Flude
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book by Stacey Halls is pure art!
Engrossing, absorbing, terrifying and hopeful, I was transported into another world, a time and place far removed from modern day prosperity and equal rights. A dank, dark, dangerous London, reeking of poverty and hardship where the distinction between the haves and have-nots is abundantly clear.
Bess gives birth to a baby girl Clara but has to give her up at the Foundling Hospital. As a hawker selling shrimp with her father Abe, she knows she cannot possibly
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful and exquisitely-crafted novel by Stacey Halls. I was lucky enough to follow the audiobook via The Pigeonhole and what a fantastic experience it was! This novel is so atmospheric, I could almost smell 18th Century London. That combined with Halls' beautiful storytelling and vibrant characters made for the perfect book to start 2020's reading challenge with, although I'm not sure that many books will be able to live up to the high standards that Halls' second novel has set. I ...more
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stacey Halls has done it again! I was so mesmerised by The Foundling that I read it in one sitting. If you enjoyed the writing style of The Familiars and the mix of fiction and history, then you will ADORE this one as well.

The Foundling focuses on themes of motherhood through two women, both of very different backgrounds. Six years after leaving her illegitimate child in the care of The Foundling Hospital, Bess goes back to claim her daughter. However, when she arrives she finds out that
What a wonderful listen this was! I loved everything about this book, the characters, the story, the wonderful descriptions of London in the 1750s and of the different types of people populating the great city.

I loved ‘The Familiars’, the author’s debut last year, and was very keen to read this new book. I was so excited to get a place on The Pigeonhole, especially as it was also available as an audiobook!

The book starts with Bess telling us about how she had to leave her newborn daughter at The
Rachel Hall
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Engaging but disappointingly straightforward historical fiction novel of one child torn between two women.

Stacey Halls second historical fiction novel is set against the backdrop of London in the Georgian era and is essentially a pretty straightforward story of two women in a tug of war over one illegitimate child left at the Foundling Hospital. Narrated in the first-person by the two women at the centre of the storm, a world apart in terms of wealth, class and respectability, The Foundling is
Heather Copping
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
First of all I must say I love the front cover of this book, it reminds me of a William Morris design.
The book is set in London, it starts in November 1747, and Bess has just given birth to a baby daughter that very day. Unfortunately she has to give her up and takes her to a hospital for abandoned babies, she is given a number and she has to leave a token so that if she goes back to claim her she has proof which child is hers. Her baby is recorded as number 627. Unfortunately when she does
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. Although it was quite slow at times, I did enjoy this book! Stacey Halls has a beautiful writing style and I liked the two intertwining storylines.
May 30, 2019 marked it as to-read
A story that explores power, secrets and motherhood with an abducted child caught between it all, in the middle of London, 1754.

This historical mystery sounds good. I just keep thinking “I’m ready; teleport me to Georgian times!”
Karen Mace
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this via the Pigeonhole app.

Another exciting piece of historical fiction from Stacey Halls who seems to really capture the essence of the time and the issues that people faced and I found it fascinating to see the story told between the haves and the have nots, in the form of Bess and Alexandra.

Bess finds herself unmarried and pregnant and is forced to leave her baby daughter at The Foundling, a place where she is hoping that her daughter will be cared for while she gets her life together
Veronika Jordan
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book more than I can say. If I could give it 10 stars I would. I was so engrossed in the story and couldn't wait for the next stave to be delivered (I was reading through Pigeonhole). At one point I wanted to buy the book so I could read to the end only to discover it had not yet been published. In fact I am still so full of the tale of Bess, Alexandra and Clara/Charlotte that I am struggling to read another book yet. I cannot imagine what it must have been like having to place your ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The one word which describes this novel for me is STUNNING!!

Bess an unmarried mother living in poverty in Georgian London is forced to give her baby daughter Clara into the care of the Foudling hospital where she will remain until Bess can reclaim her. 6 years later Bess returns to be told that her daughter has already been claimed and her world falls apart as she searches for her little girl.

Alexandra lives a privileged life as a young widow with a small daughter, she fights demons from the
Vanessa Wild
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story! Set in London during the 18th century and told by two voices, that of a young mother and shrimp seller, Bess Bright, and a widow, Alexandra Callard, who lives with her daughter, Charlotte. Six years after leaving her baby, Clara, at the Foundling Hospital, Bess discovers Clara has already been reclaimed by someone professing to be her. Bess’ investigations lead her to the position of nursemaid.

I was looking forward to reading this book so was very pleased when it became
Claire Thorpe
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book ! It intrigued me from the start and I couldn't put it down - it is so atmospheric and transported me to London in the 1750's. The story is about Bess , she has a baby that she can't look after as she is unmarried and lives with her father so she takes the baby only 1 day old to the Foundling hospital where babies are taken whose mothers are unable to take care of them. She leaves her here but vows to return and collect her when she has saved up enough money to pay the ...more
Laura Newsholme
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I flew through this book as the writing was really compelling, but ultimately, I felt that a lot of the action was just a little too convenient and coincidental, which just left me feeling a little bit disappointed. It tells the story of Bess, a young woman who takes her newborn daughter to the Foundling hospital. When she returns to reclaim her 7 years later, she discovers that someone else already has.

The positives: I thought that the dual perspectives worked really well and ensured that the
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such lyrical and evocative writing style. And the audio is just stunning, especially Bess/Eliza's voice. This was my first ever audiobook(via ThePigeonHole as I was lucky enough to win a spot on this serialization). I usually avoid audiobooks because I thought I won't be able to focus enough and my mind will wonder. Turns out I was right, but at the same time, those quiet moments when one nurses her infant child are perfect for listening, lol. And really have I said the audio is stunning? I ...more
Chloe Price
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me so sad, Bess, the protagonist goes through so much emotionally (and physically) in these first three chapters, I can't imagine going through what she has. The descriptions of her home and London painted such strong imagery, I could really place myself in Bess' home. There were also a few sentences about the fish etc that made my stomach twist. I already hate Abe and have mixed feelings about her brother, so I'll have to make my decision about him when I read the book once ...more
London, 1754, six years ago Bess Bright left her baby at the The Foundling hospital. She is now back there to claim her baby back but there is a problem, the baby has already been claimed.

I read The Familiars and didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. However The Foundling was a different kettle of fish and I really enjoyed the book.

The story follows Bess who is from the poorer side of London and Alexandria who is from the more well off. Two very different women who have a connection. I
Gail Wylde
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pigeonhole
I loved this book right from the very first page. It is a beautiful written story with wonderful characters and great descriptions of life in Georgian LONDON. The story is told from the point of view of two very different women. Bess/Eliza’s story tugged at my heart straight away and I was prepared to hate Alexandra but couldn’t. All the characters in this story are beautifully written and real (I did want to commit murder at one point!). If you like historical fiction this one is for you. ...more
Leigh Mitchell
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, it’s totally unlike anything I’ve read before but it’s opened me up to a new genre.

I was lucky to be given the opportunity to read this on Pigeonhole where a part of the book is released daily over the course of 10 days. Every day when I finished each section I couldn’t wait for the next day to find out what happened next.
Samantha (Booktiamo)
Stacey Halls has done it again! A wonderful story with great era descriptions. The characters where complex and showed wonderfully through their different classes.
A great story, I read it in a day!
Becky Wright
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent, what a way to start 2020. Full review to follow!
Diane Smillie
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was luckily enough to read this book through pigeonhole. Having to wait 10 days to get to end as they drip fed sections was agonising! I loved this book. Was so beautifully written and kept you wanting more. Excellent story with good history points too, and the characters were so well written. Highly recommend
Lisa Bergin
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, pigeonhole
I read this book via the Pigeonhole. Having read Stacey Hall’s previous book The Familiars back in early December 2019, I was really looking forward to this one and it did not disappoint. Really well written with some great descriptions it tells the story of Bess Bright, who gives birth and gives up the child to The Foundling hospital the same day. Her intention is to return one day and retrieve her child but when she does this she discovers that someone claiming to be her collected the child ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good read, but not the twisty mystery I'd hoped for.

3.5 stars rounded up, because this book is so readable.

I think the level of enjoyment for a reader of this book depends on what they hope to gain from it. For an easy and entertaining historical fiction (think holiday read), 'The Foundling' could be a perfect choice. For a twisty mystery, with complexity and a feeling of devastation that the book has ended, not so much.

The premise is a good one, and based on historical truth. Bess Bright
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*I received an advanced review copy of the book in return for this honest review*

This review can be found at

Two years ago, I went to The Foundling Museum in Brunswick, London to a book talk. Before the event, we had a chance to look around the museum. One thing that really struck a chord with me were the tokens each mother left when she handed over her baby to the care of the Foundling Hospital. If a mother ever returned to collect her child, she could be identified
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
DISCLAIMER: I am reviewing an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received in a giveaway and so things are subject to change between this and the final edition. My opinions are my own.

Wow, that book started with a bang! It drops you right in to Bessie dropping her baby off at the Foundling hospital and the emotional turmoil that causes. You can immediately see her love for the one-day-old baby and how much it hurts her to have to do this. This is possibly the quickest I’ve ever started
Emma Shaw
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Halls has once again created a masterpiece. The Foundling is a lush, enthralling and lingering read that left me speechless. It is very different from her debut novel, The Familiars, but again Halls has infused this story with her exquisite, pitch-perfect prose, luring me in slowly until the world outside this novel no longer existed.

The story is narrated by Bess and Alexandra, two very different women from two very different walks of life, and begins on a cold night in November 1747 when
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: The Foundling [April 8, 2020] 1 3 Feb 16, 2020 07:38PM  

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Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works ...more
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