A young mother’s sacrifice. A child’s desperate search for the truth . . .
When nineteen-year-old Alice Copeman becomes pregnant, she is forced by her father and stepmother to give up the baby. She simply cannot be allowed to bring shame upon her family. But all Alice can think about is the small, kitten-like child she gave away, and she mourns the father, a young soldier, so beloved, who will never have the chance to know his daughter.
Edith and Philip Burns, a childless couple, yearn for a child of their own. When they secretly adopt a baby girl, Irene, their life together must surely be complete. Irene grows up knowing that she is different from other children, but no one will tell her the full truth.
Putting hopes of marriage and children behind her, Alice embarks upon a pioneering medical career, striving to make her way in a male-dominated world. Meanwhile, Irene struggles to define her own life, eventually leaving her Suffolk home to find work in London.
As two extraordinary stories intertwine across two decades, will secrets long-buried at last come to light?
I absolutely loved this moving and evocative read. It drew me in from the very first paragraph and held me in its spell right until the very final page.
A young mother in an impossible situation, a child in search of their history, a tender exploration of the impact of loss – these are some of the many reasons that I was so drawn to The Love Child and why I’m so grateful to Anne Cater from #RandomThings Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.
I love immersing myself in a fabulous historical read and I felt like I could totally surrender myself to this reading experience and luxuriate in it over a drizzly weekend at the end of the school summer holidays/ I really felt like I could imagine in Alice’s world and found it very difficult to detach myself from this poignant tale of loss and sacrifice that so many women have experienced across the decades.
Is anyone else like me and love to go online and immerse themselves in the period of the book that they’re loving, to try and really place themselves in the characters’ world? I love doing it and I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of tales of wartime sweethearts, secret pregnancies and shameful whispers that lasted for generations.
It was lovely to lose myself in a fantastic historical read after a summer travelling across Asia where I’ve been mostly reading contemporary writing and non-fiction. It’s funny that I get drawn to books in waves, and after reading The Love Child I’m now on a real Historical Fiction mission and have been drawn back to one of my comfort-reads – The Cazalet novels – set in the same period and dealing with secrets, fractured family dynamics and unspoken feelings, just like Rachel Hore’s novels.
The realistic characters and their vividly-depicted emotional journeys allowed me to travel back in time with them through its pages. I really loved the way that Rachel Hore draws the reader in and keeps them connected with the characters’ journeys through love, despair and a sense of resignation as we see the way that choices were far more limited in that era and it is so easy to see why so many families bowed to convention and tried to mask the truth and bury what was inside their hearts.
I found myself wondering about Edith and Philip’s emotions as adoptive parents and thinking about their reasons for behaving in the way that they did – as well as considering how Irene’s life as an adopted child in a world where this was something shameful and hidden-away, was so different to successful adoptions in the twenty-first century.
I loved the juxtaposition of the two stories as they interweave and coincide across the years. This was the perfect late-summer read – and if you’re NOT a teacher and manage to get away for a bit of September sunshine abroad, then this would be am amazing addition to your beach bag. If you love an epic read, with emotionally resonant and compelling characters then you’ll really love The Lost Child – I was a huge fan growing up of my mum’s Rosamund Pilcher, Penny Vincenzi and Elizabeth Jane Howard and this novel fits in perfectly with their immersive tales of history, intrigue and family secrets.
I absolutely loved this book and enjoyed the fact that I was savouring the final few days of my holiday and could really dedicate some serious hours of reading to it. I enjoyed the feeling of being immersed in this perfectly realised world where unspoken secrets and heartbreaking decisions really tug at your heartstrings.
I got so lost in this story that I missed the train to the Edinburgh Book Festival – and immediately wanted my mum to read it too so we could have a long catch-up – I was really excited to see that one of my favourite fellow-bloggers, Joanne from Portobello Book Blog is on the blog tour soon and hope that in an up-and-coming #BookBloggingBelles social, we’ll get the chance to talk about this poignant and emotional read.
Writer On The Shelf
An early childhood photograph shows me puzzling away at a Ladybird learn-to-read book. I was an early starter on the reading front but didn’t become a writer until I was a mum with three growing children. Indeed, if anyone had told the very young me that one day I’d be a published author I’d never have believed them.
My reading addiction got properly underway when I was five and our family moved from Surrey, England, where I was born, to live in Hong Kong because of my father’s job. I loved Hong Kong, but I also missed home, and one of the great excitements was receiving parcels of books from relatives in the UK. When the tropical heat got to me, which it often did, being red-haired with fair skin, I’d lie on my bed and lose myself in Enid Blyton, Black Beauty or the Chronicles of Narnia.
Back in an English primary school, aged eight, I was fortunate to have a teacher who read to the class every day, especially books by historical authors like Cynthia Harnett, Hilda Lewis and Rosemary Sutcliff. In this way, my love for tales about the past was born.
During my early teenage years I perused Jackie magazine and longed for romance, but instead fell in love with English literature. I tried Jane Austen and the Brontës, raided my grandfather’s bookshelf for Dickens and my local library for Virginia Woolf, George Orwell and Wilkie Collins. I owe a huge debt to the public library system and believe passionately that we should maintain it for future generations.
History is full of fascinating stories of how we came to be, and that’s why I chose it to study at Oxford University. After I graduated I had a brief flirtation with museum work, but eventually books won out again. I took a secretarial course and landed a junior position at Cassells Publishers in Westminster and knew at once I’d found a career where I felt totally at home. Three years of enjoyable dogsbodying later I emerged as a fledgling editor. It was then I landed my dream job: assistant editor at HarperCollins Publishers in the Fiction department! I worked there for many wonderful years, eventually becoming a senior editorial director and looking after my own stable of well-known names. As an editor I learned a great deal from my authors – about the craft of storytelling, how to develop strong characters and write good dialogue, all sorts of writerly tricks. I observed with admiration the huge amount of work that my authors put into their novels and, above all, I learned the discipline of editing and re-editing work, which even the best writers need to do.
My life, however, was about to change. During my time at HarperCollins, I’d met and married one of my authors, D.J. Taylor (David), and in due course, we had three lovely sons. In 2001 I gave up my job and we all moved from London to Norwich, my husband’s birthplace. Here it was that I finally gave in to the desire to write. I started with a short story, but it went on growing and became The Dream House. It was thrilling, but also nerve-wracking, to send it out into the world to find a publisher.
I’ve had nine novels published now, with the tenth, The Love Child, coming on 5th September 2019, all with the lovely team at Simon & Schuster UK through my agent, Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown. I also teach Publishing and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and review fiction. Norwich has recently become a UNESCO City of Literature – what better place can there be to live and work?