06 November 2020

Guest Review: Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham

Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham book cover
Published July 2020
* Copy courtesy of Allen and Unwin *

I'm throwing to guest reviewer Neil Béchervaise to close out the week with his glowing review of Finding Eadie by popular Australian author Caroline Beecham. Over to you Neil.

When misguided morality is amplified by wartime poverty, baby-stealing and illegal adoption become sad realities and bomb-devastated Britain provides a raw emotional setting for Beecham’s latest novel.

Set within the heart of the second world war book-publishing industry, Finding Eadie is a compelling thriller with a fascinating historical basis. The German blitzing of London’s Paternoster Row, home of many of Britain’s major publishers, shortages of paper and the metals required for typesetting have led to major business re-prioritisations. These have been compounded by the movement of skilled workers into the armed forces and American initiatives to maintain the flow of new books by printing soft-cover editions and pocket-sized books for ease of transport.

In 1943, babies and young children are being bought and sold, both legally and illegally across Britain. Many are being shipped to safety overseas and the 1939 Adoption Regulation Act has still not been passed. Newspaper advertisements seeking babies remain common and, despite the efforts of the newly formed National Children’s Adoption Agency, child trafficking and baby-farming remains common.

Waking from sleep after the birth of her new baby, unmarried book editor, Alice Cotton discovers that her deeply religious mother has sold the child for adoption to avoid the shame of admitting the child’s illegitimacy. Finding her baby, quite naturally, becomes Alice’s obsession and, despite her fear of losing both her friends and her job and the very real threat to her own safety, she moves with sleuth-like precision to find Eadie and bring her home.

Weaving the hunger for new titles among the armed forces at war with the need for gripping stories, Caroline Beecham provides a highly credible account of the wartime lust for reading in that pre-television age. At the same time, she explores the discomfort and dangers of travel across the Atlantic, the fragility of relationships as soldiers die in battle and the personal impact of brutalising financial planning as it impacts the publishing industry.

Finding Eadie is a rare delight in our Covid-embattled climate where unemployment, love and even survival are mingled with threatening journeys through largely unfamiliar experiences. At a point when we are still unravelling the complexities of stolen generations, well-meaning ‘adoptions’ and the issues of illegitimacy in religious settings, this novel comes as a sheer delight. 

Intriguing, heart-rending and, ultimately, intensely informative, this story had me reading deep into the night to reach the outcome.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

Neil's Rating:

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