It’s 1929 and Eleanor and Edward Hamilton are living a priviledged life in England. They have a flat in London and a beautiful country home. Four-year-old Mabel is the joy of their life. Edward is a war hero, an educator and a leader in the Eugenics Society. Members of the eugenics movement seek “to improve the human population by increasing reproduction of the most desirable characteristics in human beings and suppressing reproduction of the least desirable.” When Mabel is diagnosed as having epilepsy, the Hamilton’s believe they need to keep her illness a secret and keep their daughter hidden as it would jeopardize Edward’s career. But Edward is hiding more than his daughter’s illness and is forced to deal with years of deception. Eleanor is heartbroken and fears Edward will win out and Mabel will be sent to an institution.
Author Louise Fein has written a well-researched story that is often hard to read. Long associated with Nazi Germany’s desire to breed a master race, the eugenics movement had originally started in England with many prominent supporters there and in the United States. Their beliefs and desire for the creation of new laws to support their philosophy seem outlandish and unthinkable today yet this book, which includes many historical figures, takes place less than 100 years ago. It feels more like England in a Charles Dickens novel.
I enjoyed Fein’s debut novel Daughter of the Reich and The Hidden Child is another worthwhile read. In A Note from the Author, Fein reveals that she is a mother of an epileptic child which makes this story even more touching.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: October 19, 2021.
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