THE FOUNDLING by Philip Boast *.
Five-year-old Joy Briggs is as valuable a commodity as a silver salver in the child-brothels of Victorian London, and to Jack Riddles, the terrifying burglar who one winter's night breaks into her parents' opulent home, she is a haul well worth having. But in the hue and cry following the robbery Riddles abandons the young girl - deaf and so deemed stupid - in a canal tunnel. To his distress, for the child's silent knowingness has touched him, she is gone on his return. Though haunted by the girl, Riddles believes she must have drowned, and the grim-faced Scotland Yard men who attempt to placate her outraged parents are sure she is lost to the city's vice-infested underworld.
But they are wrong. For Joy has been found by a family of canal folk who bring her up as their own, giving her the kind of open-hearted love she could never have received from her own parents. But as Joy reaches womanhood it becomes clear that her past cannot let her live in peace and that events she witnessed as a child on that bitter December night mean there are those who want her dead.
...... Inner front cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): Evening was falling, dark with rain, so that the setting sun struck across the docklands and graveyards of Paddington from beneath the clouds, and London was going home.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 417): Everything he had once thought to be of value, everything he had dreamed of, everything he had believed in, was worthless.
KEEP IT OR NOT: I'll be passing this one on. My mam may enjoy it.
A sort of historical crime novel, I found The Foundling at 442 pages to be over long, full of sub-plots that didn't really seem to go anywhere and peopled by characters that I found myself unable to relate to or really care about. That said the last 100 or so pages did reveal something that was totally unexpected ..... however, this, to me, was too little too late and didn't make up for the disappointment I generally felt.
Difficult to read at times due to the dialect that was occasionally spoken by the characters, I presume this was authentic to the period and the area. If only the author had been so diligent when it came to other aspects of the story which seemed unrealistic and way too 'modern' ...... I'm pretty sure the phrase 'That's my name, don't wear it out' wasn't in common usage in the 1800's and nor was the police force at that time quite so well organised.
Not the best historical crime novel I've ever read and full of what I felt were inaccuracies and inconsistencies, I never-the-less did find certain aspects of The Foundling to be interesting ..... things such as the Contagious Diseases Act which stated that 'by law any woman, any woman at all, can be forcibly taken from the street and inspected for disease'.
* As always I tried to link to some information about the author behind the book but in this instance the author proved rather illusive.
A charity shop buy, the 58th book to be read for my 100+ Reading Challenge.