#BlogTour The Hidden Child by Louise Fein

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Hidden Child by Louise Fein. Today you’re in for a treat, a small extract of this powerful story – The Hidden Child.

About the Author

Louise Fein holds an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University. Her debut novel, People Like Us (entitled Daughter of the Reich in the USA/Canada, has been published in thirteen territories, was shortlisted for the RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2021 and the RNA Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award 2021. Her books are predominantly set during the twentieth century and all of her books seek to explore issues that continue to be of relevance today. Follow @FeinLouise on Twitter

About the book

From the outside, Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have the perfect life, but they’re harbouring a secret that threatens to fracture their entire world.

London, 1929. – Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and an adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a pioneer in the eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright.

When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to develop debilitating seizures, they have to face an uncomfortable truth: Mabel has epilepsy – one of the ‘undesirable’ conditions that Edward campaigns against.

Forced to hide their daughter away so as to not jeopardise Edward’s life’s work, the couple must confront the truth of their past – and the secrets that have been buried. Will Eleanor and Edward be able to fight for their family? Or will the truth destroy them?

Extract of The Hidden Child

Brook End is a big house, by most people’s reckoning. It’s not a stately home, as such, but a handsome, brick-built, sprawling villa, four storeys high, and a mere twenty years old. A suitable residence for a respected member of the upper-middle classes, with a growing family and an even faster-growing reputation for being the expert in his field of psychology and education. It’s quite the ticket. Modern is far more suitable for a Man of Science. Edward could undoubtedly have picked up a mansion steeped in history, with a large estate, had he been minded so to do. As soon as he and Eleanor had become engaged, he’d searched in earnest for the right country house for his bride-to-be. He had wanted to give her the very best he could afford, especially after all that she had been through, coming as she did from a good, professional family. Her father had been a financier in the City of London and she had grown up with money until the devastating loss of all the male members of her family during the war had sent their fortunes spiralling downwards, forcing her mother and Eleanor herself to seek work. 

Five years ago, there had been a fair few stately homes going on the cheap, but Edward’s private bankers, Coleroy & Mack, had advised him against taking on such a venture, and their financial acumen, their hunch about the British economy and the increasing tax burden wealthy landowners would have to carry, had been proven right. 

With the aristocracy selling up in their droves and investing their money elsewhere, he is happy not to have assumed their hefty tax burden, not to mention the social and economic responsibility they were all busy extricating themselves from. No, Edward congratulates himself for not falling into that trap. He might be considered by some to be nouveau riche or, as Barton Leyton once called him, a wealthy upstart, and stately home or no stately home, the people of polite society would continue to sniff down their haughty noses at him. But, unlike Barton, who moans regularly about the cost of keeping Mayfield Manor from crumbling around him, Brook End requires little maintenance and boasts both modern conveniences and ample space, as well as a beautiful location. Besides, Eleanor, who is of far better breeding stock than Edward, seems perfectly content with the house. At least, she never says she isn’t. 

‘Evening, sir,’ Alice greets him at the front door. 

‘Good evening to you too, Alice,’ he replies, noticing her round and freckled face is flushed with excitement. 

‘Mrs Hamilton collected Miss Carmichael from the station earlier today,’ she gushes. ‘Lovely to have her home, isn’t it? She’s told me all about her tour around Italy. It sounded wonderful. And you must hear her speak French! Like a native, she is.’ 

‘Indeed? And what did she say?’ 

‘Oh, heavens, I’ve no idea. She could have been telling me I’m the queen of England for all I know, but it did sound lovely, like.’ 

Edward smiles indulgently. ‘I see. And where are the ladies now?’ 

‘Changing for dinner, I believe. It’ll be served in fifteen minutes.’ 

‘Excellent. I just have enough time to wash and change myself.’ 

Taking the stairs, he notices how empty the house is without a dog. A house really isn’t a home without a dog in it. It’s been over a month since Patch died. He must look into replacing him. 

‘My darling!’ And there she is, standing arms outstretched at the top of the stairs. Eleanor. His beautiful wife. 

He bounds up the last two, grabs her and pulls her into an embrace. ‘Oh, how I’ve missed you!’ he says, breathing in her lily-of-the-valley scent. He picks her up and swings her around, making her shriek and giggle. 

‘Edward!’ she cries. ‘Put me down!’

‘Never!’

‘Urgh, it’s making me dizzy! Someone will see!’

‘Who cares,’ he laughs, and releases her.

‘Go and wash and change,’ she smiles up at him. ‘You smell of London.’

‘I do? And how does that smell?’

‘Like old boots!’ she laughs. ‘Scrub it off and put on some of that cologne I gave you for your birthday. That will be a great improvement!’ She blows him a kiss and skips downstairs. ‘I must speak to Mrs Bellamy before she ruins the soup!’ 

Review

Edward is a bright star and mover in the popular Eugenics movement, but when his family is confronted with their own less than perfect specimen, ergo child with an impairment. What does that mean for Edward and Eleanor going forward and their standing in society, and more importantly what does it mean for Mabel?

I’d like to say the Hamilton’s are not indicative of beliefs at that time, however eugenics have been a popular pseudo-science for a long time, directly linked to white supremacy, colonialism and the rule of white men. The belief that certain people are superior to others in intellect based on certain genetic characteristics, colour of skin, race.

Also that any condition suggesting a lack of perfection would also be deemed a lack of intelligence, such as epilepsy, special needs, any ‘imperfection’ really. Society and what is perceived as an imperfection is a steadily moving and evolving target. The need to breed perfection also meant trying to ensure faults weren’t passed on, the atrocities of the Nazi Party are a perfect example of the teachings of eugenics. It’s important to note that interestingly enough the term and theory of eugenics evolved from Darwin’s survival of the fittest via his cousin Galton, who felt that society should be encourage to breed like with like to ensure the purity and strength of species.

Fein always likes to throw a moral conundrum into the mix. Riveting historical fiction with fascinating characters, but the maelstrom at the core of the story is always a question of conscience, of right and wrong, which is often directly linked to certain periods in time. For instance are decisions made during wartime, or certain eras, ones you wouldn’t have made under other circumstances? 

In this book the topic of eugenics, which is at the centre of the oppression of minorities and has been for centuries is brought down to the core. It becomes a personal question of ideology and when family defies the so-called logic of that ideology – then what?

What if your family or a family member, in this case a child is considered exactly what you are advocating against. Do you fold to society or do you do what is humane and correct for your child?

This is what I really enjoy about this author, I always come away from her books with questions and have great conversations with fellow readers about said moral conundrums. That in itself, and the fact I could write about this story for yonks, is indicative of a fantastic storyteller, and also one that feels it’s important to leave a footprint where they have written and engaged.

Buy The Hidden Child at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Head of Zeus.

#BlogTour The Patient by Tim Sullivan

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Patient by Tim Sullivan.

About the Author

Tim Sullivan is a crime writer, screenwriter and director, whose film credits include A Handful of Dust, Coronation Street, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, Jack and Sarah, and Cold Feet. His crime series featuring the socially awkward but brilliantly persistent DS George Cross has topped the book charts and been widely acclaimed. He is currently the UK chair of the Writers’ Guild of America (West).

Tim lives in North London with his wife Rachel, the Emmy award-winning producer of The Barefoot Contessa and Pioneer Woman. To find out more about the author, please visit TimSullivan.uk, Follow @TimJRSullivan on Twitter

About the book

An outsider himself, having been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Condition, DS Cross is especially drawn to cases concerning the voiceless and the dispossessed. In The Patient his attention is drawn to a woman who has been sitting in the reception of the Major Crime Unit, patiently, for three days. Her daughter is dead. With no fingerprints, no weapon and no witnesses, the Bristol Crime Unit are ready to close the case. The victim has a long history of drug abuse and the coroner has given a verdict of suicide. But her mother is convinced it was murder.

DS Cross risks his career and the reputation of the force to uncover the truth. In defiance of his superiors, he re-opens the case and is soon mired in a labyrinth of potential suspects – an addict ex-boyfriend who is the father of Flick’s daughter, a predatory ex-employer, and the therapist she came to rely upon, but can he solve the case before his superiors shut it down for good?

Review

It’s an interesting one, because you go into the read with that extra bit of information on the main character, ergo with certain expectations, and yet simultaneously the author doesn’t build the story around that aspect per se. Instead the reader is drawn in by the obvious barriers Cross encounters, emotionally, psychologically and physically.

The result is a strong compassionate thread throughout this crime read, which in itself draws from a deep emotional well of despair. Imagine knowing your child’s death was suspicious and the police were determined to file it away without any further investigation. Frustration, anger, and a constant adding of fuel to the fires of grief.

Cross sees patterns others are unable to see or perhaps unwilling to acknowledge, and when he takes a step across one of the many boundaries he crosses on occasion, there is no way back until he finds the truth.

I really enjoyed the subtlety and the way the author conveys this essence of peace, empathy, compassion and in equal measures life from a neurodiversity perspective. It doesn’t overshadow the crime element – it is woven comfortably into the story.

I think this is a series with a lot of potential, and Sullivan is an author with plenty of talent. The read engages and pulls the reader in, which is exactly what you want from a good story.

Buy The Patient at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Head of Zeus; pub date 3 March 2022 – Hardback – £18.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Mary Kate by Nadine Dorries

Today it’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Mary Kate by Nadine Dorries. It’s heart-warming, sometimes tragic and it’s also quite amusing at times. Topping off the emotional turmoil and drama with a cheeky sense of humour is what makes this a compelling story.

About the Author

Nadine Dorries grew up in a working-class family in Liverpool. She spent part of her childhood living on a farm with her grandmother, and attended school in a small remote village in the west of Ireland. She trained as a nurse, then followed with a successful career in which she established and then sold her own business. She has been the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire since 2005 and has three daughters.

Follow @NadineDorries @HoZ_Books on Twitter

Buy Mary Kate

About the book

Mary Kate Malone is seventeen and bitterly unhappy that her father has married again after the death of her mother. On her last day at school, she decides to leave home in Tarabeg on the west coast of Ireland and head for Liverpool to find her mother’s sister, Aunt Bee.

But absolutely nothing goes to plan. Within hours of disembarking, she finds herself penniless and alone, with no place to stay and no idea how she will survive.

Meanwhile, back in Ireland, where old sins cast long shadows, a long-buried secret is about to come to light and a day of reckoning, in the shape of a stranger from America, will set an unstoppable chain of events in motion.

Review

This is the sequel to Shadows in Heaven, and although one might assume that the main focus is on Mary Kate and the people who love her, the rest of the family tries very hard to draw attention away from her. It is a layered family saga with entertaining characters. Never a dull moment with any one of them.

The fact Mary Kate has decided to embark upon wildly exotic travels, from Ireland to Liverpool, comes as a shock to her family. They expect her to settle down near them and stay within the inner hub. She has other ideas and sense of adventure to placate.

Rosie is a character who may divide opinions. At times I felt sorry for her, because living her life in the shadow of a ghost is difficult. Then there is the other side of Rosie, the more spiteful and harsh version of the woman always destined to be second best. 

I was annoyed on her behalf about the way she was treated by her husband Michael, his family members and of course by Mary Kate. This woman has raised Mary Kate’s brother since his first moments, becoming his surrogate mother after his mother died in childbirth. She is his mother, just not genetically, and yet everyone still behaves as if she is an usurper.

Sarah’s presence is felt throughout, as are other ghosts, which is a delightful addition to the story. It gives this family a stronger sense of being bonded together. Daedio in particular is driven by the advice given by long lost loved ones, and he is also the one who made me smile the most.

It has a Catherine Cookson vibe, but less gritty and with more emphasis on the chaotic family entanglements, and of course the family is Irish. It’s heart-warming, sometimes tragic and it’s also quite amusing at times. Topping off the emotional turmoil and drama with a cheeky sense of humour is what makes this a compelling story.

Buy Mary Kate (Tarabeg #2) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Head of Zeus; pub date 10 Jan. 2019

Buy Shadows in Heaven (Tarabeg #1)