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?
When I first heard about The Love Child I was excited. It is exactly the sort of story I cannot get enough of. I love historical fiction, I love stories where a mystery unfolds and I love one with a dual narrative that flits back and forth between several time periods. Added to that the fact that I am particularly geeky about anything set in the interwar years and have a real soft spot for anything involve tidbits of medical history. Quite simply this book could have been written for me.
I thoroughly enjoyed the snapshot this book gave you into the lives of people living in those interwar years. The shame that forced Alice to give her child up, the way in which she was treated at university, whilst training to be a doctor and whilst serving at a doctor really showed how appallingly women were treated and the double standards they faced on a daily basis.
I enjoyed Irene's story as she came to terms with that fact that she didn't quite fit with her family and why that be. Her need to know more about where she came from drove her story and I was rooting for her from the outset as she tried time and time again to to find out more about her history.
I also enjoyed this snippets of the World War One history when delving into Alice's past and seeing her role during the war and how it gave her the confidence to want more in a world that actively didn't encourage women to pursue a role outside of the home and for me that was really telling with regards to the social impact that World War One had if not immediately but eventually as it started to show women how capable they were about how they could achieve more if they wanted to.
The story itself was fascinating. I enjoyed seeing how the two narrative wove together and enjoyed following them across the book. Definitely one of those books I didn't want to put down as I found myself needing to know more.