05 March 2020

Review: The Foundling by Stacey Halls

The Foundling by Stacey Halls book cover
RRP $39.99
Published February 2020
* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *

Set in London in 1754, Bess Bright makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her illegitimate newborn baby at the Foundling Hospital in London, promising herself that she will come back to claim her daughter as soon as she can. Years later, Bess returns only to find her daughter has already been claimed, by her. So begins the mystery of The Foundling by Stacey Halls.

Stacey Halls has done it again. The Familiars was set in 1612 around the Pendle witch trials and was an absorbing read about two women from different classes coming together to help one another. Somehow, Stacey Halls has managed to effortlessly set another tale about two women from different classes 150 years later in Georgian London without missing a beat. The Foundling has been written in such a unique storytelling style that from the first page of The Foundling I knew immediately I was in expert hands once again.

Here's an example of her writing from Page 119:
"With the excess of Christmas behind and spring a way off, it was a dull, dead period, a time of hibernation and renewal, in which to reintroduce good habits, turn mattresses and repair wigs."
In addition to being an engaging historical mystery, The Foundling by Stacey Halls is also an absolute delight to hold in the hand. With a stunning cover design with spot UV and metallic foiling on the front and back, the edition I have is the floppy kind with nice big font and delightful chapter markers to indicate the character's perspective about to unfold. I recall remarking on the beauty of The Familiars too and the design team have outdone themselves again here. I enjoyed seeing The Foundling on my bedside table and will be sad to shelve it along with my other 5 star reads where I won't be able to admire the cover on a daily basis.

There's been much praise for Stacey Halls, however I don't agree with Cosmopolitan that Halls is 'The new Hilary Mantel'. She is nothing like Mantel and I believe the comparison builds an inaccurate association in the minds of potential readers. If I had to characterise Stacey's writing, I'd say it was a meeting of the minds between Philippa Gregory and Diane Setterfield.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Foundling by Stacey Halls. It had all of the ingredients I love in an historical fiction novel and I highly recommend it.

Carpe Librum!

My Rating:

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  1. I hate it when people hail someone as "the next X"! So inaccurate most of the time.

    1. Me too Davida, particularly when I believe it's misleading or a real stretch. Sometimes I don't mind promo along the lines of: "for fans of Kate Morton or Philippa Gregory etc." That doesn't bother me, but why can't debut authors be the next thing on their own. Stacey Halls is going to be the next Stacey Halls, period! And why can't Hilary Mantel and Stacey Halls both have successful careers at the same time. Why does one need to replace the other?


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!