The Love Child by Rachel Hore Simon & Schuster September 5th 2019
When seventeen-year-old Alice falls 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 of is the small, kitten-like child she gave away, and how the father, a young soldier, so beloved, will never have the chance to know his daughter. Meanwhile, Edith and Philip, a couple unable to have children of their own, secretly adopt a baby girl, Irene, given up by a young unmarried mother. Irene grows up knowing that she is different from other children but no one will tell her the full truth. As two extraordinary stories intertwine across two decades, will secrets long-buried at last come to light?
1917, the world war is nearing an end and the men are returning. Women the stalwarts are being sent back to the homes, back to being traditional housewives. There are those who can never go back, who can never be who were they were before and Alice was one of them. For Alice training to be a doctor was a way to forget her dead lover and the baby she had to give away.
Hore brilliantly depicted the hardships she faced, family and societies need to hide the illegitimate child, to forget it never happened. Your heart melted for the young Alice for her grief but you also admired her strength and bravery. Her determination to be a doctor in a male dominated profession was tough, and you reeled at the attitudes, the derision poured upon the women. You had to accept that this was the way of things and, indeed such prejudices prevailed thoughout the novel, as Hore perfectly captured the society of the time
I loved the dual aspect as we not only followed Alice’s life but also her daughter, the love child, Irene. Here was another young woman, a misfit, with that feeling that she didn’t belong, hadn’t yet found her place in the world. She was also strong and determined, persistent in her pursuit to find her mother and why she was given away.
I liked that Hore didn’t take the stereotypical route, you never knew if they would have that happy ending, if they would both garner the acceptance they both craved and deserved. Their struggle for acceptance and the truth was vividly portrayed, as family tensions and prejudices prevailed.
Hore’s storytelling was compelling, it drew you in to the world of Alice and Irene. It made you appreciate the obstacles they faced and the trail they blazed for women’s future roles in society.
For someone who hasn’t read Rachel Hore before, I am annoyed I have left it so long and shall be seeking out her titles to read and enjoy.
I would like to thank Simon Schuster for a copy of The Love Child to read and review and to Anne Cater for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she teaches publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She is married to the writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons. Her latest novel, Last Letter Home, was a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for 2018.