Publication: 5th September 2019 – Simon & Schuster UK
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?
This is such a beautiful read. Set between the two World Wars, it’s the story of two women and the challenges they have to face. Alice Copeman was a nurse in France during World War I when she meets and falls in love with a soldier. Forced by her stepmother to give up for adoption the baby they conceived, Alice throws herself in her studies and in her work. Irene Burns always felt she didn’t belong in her family and she feels different from the other children. As time goes by, Alice works hard to become a successful doctor while Irene moves to London to find herself and her real parents.
I loved the author’s attention to details. Her descriptions are vivid, the historical facts are accurate, and she perfectly captures the society of the time. Both Alice and Irene come from good families. Alice is forced to give up her daughter because her stepmother fears the shame that it would bring to the family. Irene can’t spend time with her only friend Tom because his family is not very respectable. And there is the role of the women and what it is expected from them. Alice’s refusal to change her name after marriage or her role as a doctor helping pregnant women are very inspiring and fit with a time when women where fighting for equal rights.
In The Love Child there are themes of love and friendship, but family is at the centre of the story, especially the relationship between a mother and her daughter. Alice and her stepmother Gwen are completely different character. Gwen is more conservative and disapproves of Alice’s choices, but, even though they are not blood-related and they often argue, we see some kind of close relationship between them. Irene has always felt that her adoptive mother Edith loved her less than her brother Clay (because he is her real son), but their relationship is more complicated than that. And then there is the relationship between Alice and Irene. Who can Irene call her mother, the one who gave birth to her or the one who raised her?
The story is beautiful, moving, and real. I loved the characters, so authentic and engaging. And I loved the author’s writing style. The story and the characters come to life and I could almost imagine it as each scene unfolded. The Love Child is an absolute must-read!
A huge thank you to SJ and Simon and Schuster UK for providing me with a copy of this stunning novel!