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The Hidden Child

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Londoners Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have wealth, status, and a happy marriage—but the 1929 financial crash is looming, and they’re harboring a terrible, shameful secret. How far are they willing to go to protect their charmed life—even if it means abandoning their child to a horrific fate?  Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and mother to a beautiful four-year-old girl, Londoners Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have wealth, status, and a happy marriage—but the 1929 financial crash is looming, and they’re harboring a terrible, shameful secret. How far are they willing to go to protect their charmed life—even if it means abandoning their child to a horrific fate?  Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and mother to a beautiful four-year-old girl, Mabel. Her wealthy husband, Edward, a celebrated war hero, is a leading light in the burgeoning Eugenics movement—the very ideas that will soon be embraced by Hitler—and is increasingly important in designing education policy for Great Britain. But when Edward and Eleanor’s otherwise perfectly healthy daughter develops debilitating epileptic seizures, their world fractures. Mabel’s shameful illness must be hidden or Edward’s life’s work will be in jeopardy and the family’s honor will be shattered. When Eleanor discovers Edward has been keeping secrets, she calls into question everything she believed about genetic inferiority, and her previous unshakeable faith in her husband disintegrates. Alarmed, distressed, and no longer able to bear the family’s burden, she takes matters into her own hands.


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Londoners Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have wealth, status, and a happy marriage—but the 1929 financial crash is looming, and they’re harboring a terrible, shameful secret. How far are they willing to go to protect their charmed life—even if it means abandoning their child to a horrific fate?  Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and mother to a beautiful four-year-old girl, Londoners Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have wealth, status, and a happy marriage—but the 1929 financial crash is looming, and they’re harboring a terrible, shameful secret. How far are they willing to go to protect their charmed life—even if it means abandoning their child to a horrific fate?  Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and mother to a beautiful four-year-old girl, Mabel. Her wealthy husband, Edward, a celebrated war hero, is a leading light in the burgeoning Eugenics movement—the very ideas that will soon be embraced by Hitler—and is increasingly important in designing education policy for Great Britain. But when Edward and Eleanor’s otherwise perfectly healthy daughter develops debilitating epileptic seizures, their world fractures. Mabel’s shameful illness must be hidden or Edward’s life’s work will be in jeopardy and the family’s honor will be shattered. When Eleanor discovers Edward has been keeping secrets, she calls into question everything she believed about genetic inferiority, and her previous unshakeable faith in her husband disintegrates. Alarmed, distressed, and no longer able to bear the family’s burden, she takes matters into her own hands.

30 review for The Hidden Child

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Eleanor is married to world war one hero Edward Hamilton and they have a four year old daughter Mabel. The Hamilton's live in a beautiful home in the English countryside, they own a London apartment and are well off. Edward’s a professor, he’s interested in psychology and the science of eugenics. For me this was a rather controversial topic, using Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, adults and children would be put into categories and it also involves more controversial ideas and practic Eleanor is married to world war one hero Edward Hamilton and they have a four year old daughter Mabel. The Hamilton's live in a beautiful home in the English countryside, they own a London apartment and are well off. Edward’s a professor, he’s interested in psychology and the science of eugenics. For me this was a rather controversial topic, using Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, adults and children would be put into categories and it also involves more controversial ideas and practices. Both Edward and Eleanor believe in eugenics and for Eleanor she has a personal reason for her beliefs. When Mable starts having funny turns, she goes blank, mentions a lady she sees during her episodes and Eleanor puts it down to her being tired. Mabel she has a fit, the Hamilton’s can’t ignore their daughter’s condition, they seek medical advice and she’s diagnosed with epilepsy. Edward’s very concerned about his career, Eleanor’s in shock, and she has no idea how limited and horrible the treatment was for epileptics in the 1920’s. This cause’s immense tension in the couple’s relationship, when Eleanor discovers Edward has been keeping a secret from her for over twelve years and she starts to question his honesty and his beliefs. Eleanor's desperate to help her daughter, she loves her and the doctor treating Mable won’t listen to her at all, and she comes up with a plan and is determined to save her. To be honest, half way through The Hidden Child, I wasn’t sure I could finish the book, I found the whole idea of the science of genetics and eugenics horrifying, the medical treatment and attitudes towards children especially distressing. However I continued reading the story, I can understand why Louise Fein included these topics in the book, it was well written and you certainly question the ideas, morals and medical treatment at the time. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and five stars from me. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    I’m a little torn on how to rate this one. While I liked the story overall, some parts of it frustrated me in ways that I find difficult to articulate. From the get go, I understood that this would not be an easy read by any means, as I knew from the summary that the subject matter revolved around the burgeoning eugenics movement at the end of the 1920s in Europe. With eugenics forever linked to the Holocaust in my mind, I had mixed feelings going into this book and to be honest, wasn’t too sur I’m a little torn on how to rate this one. While I liked the story overall, some parts of it frustrated me in ways that I find difficult to articulate. From the get go, I understood that this would not be an easy read by any means, as I knew from the summary that the subject matter revolved around the burgeoning eugenics movement at the end of the 1920s in Europe. With eugenics forever linked to the Holocaust in my mind, I had mixed feelings going into this book and to be honest, wasn’t too sure if I was up for a story (albeit a fictional one) about the beginnings of a movement associated with one of the most horrific war atrocities in history. With that said, I had read this author’s debut novel and liked it overall, so I figured I would give this one a try. After having finished this one, I will say that I’m glad I took a chance on it, as it gave me better insight into the historical context behind why people back then had the attitudes and beliefs they did (even though I disagree with them completely). I also appreciated the writing, which I felt was well done overall (though some of the narrative did meander a bit, but not to the point of hugely impacting my reading experience). My frustrations with this book were mostly with the characters — specifically the 2 main characters whose alternating perspectives the narrative was told from. Edward and Eleanor Hamilton are a wealthy, happily married couple in England who are both proponents of the eugenics movement for their own personal reasons, but Edward is a stronger believer due to his profession. When their sweet and beautiful four-year-old daughter Mabel starts to experience epileptic seizures, with each one more frequent and severe, their perfect lives shatter. The decision is made that Mabel, with her shameful illness, must be hidden away in order to protect the family’s honor as well as Edward’s work in eugenics. But things get worse from there, to the point that Edward’s and Eleanor’s marriage teeters on the verge of collapse. To be perfectly honest, I found both Edward and Eleanor very difficult to like — not just because of the views they espoused, but also their personalities and the way they behaved throughout the story, annoyed for about 75% of the story. At certain points, I felt there was a lot of time spent by both of them attempting to justify their views and it got to be a bit too much in my opinion. I was hoping there would be more focus on Mabel, since her illness was technically the catalyst of the entire story, but there wasn’t as much on her as I expected. While both characters did end up having redeeming qualities that came into play later on, I think by that time, my frustration with them was too palpable to overcome. Having said all that, I think the story overall was a good one and it’s obvious the author, Louise Fein, was meticulous in her research. While I did have issues with some aspects of the story, it was still an eye-opening read, one that I feel was well worth the effort. I heard that Fein is working on her third novel, which I’m definitely looking forward to reading! Received ARC from William Morrow via NetGalley.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    England, 1928. Eleanor Hamilton is happily married. Her wealthy husband takes a leading part in the burgeoning Eugenics movement. It’s about improving the health and wealth of the nations. Those who are in some way not classified as higher intelligence should be in a way handled as they lead toward a disastrous future. But the Hamilton’s lives get complicated when their four-year-old daughter develops debilitating epileptic seizures. Not only that, those idealistic and questionable ideas get emb England, 1928. Eleanor Hamilton is happily married. Her wealthy husband takes a leading part in the burgeoning Eugenics movement. It’s about improving the health and wealth of the nations. Those who are in some way not classified as higher intelligence should be in a way handled as they lead toward a disastrous future. But the Hamilton’s lives get complicated when their four-year-old daughter develops debilitating epileptic seizures. Not only that, those idealistic and questionable ideas get embraced by Hitler. This leads to Edward’s concerns about his career and Eleanor’s shocking discovery of epileptic treatment at the time. There is also a secret causing a friction between the couple. Eleanor desperate to help her daughter takes some things into her own hands. The story vividly presents the horrifying movement and medical “treatments.” It can be a distressing read at times, but it is believably portrayed. I struggled to fully connect with the characters. There are tiny parts giving flashbacks about them, but for me this wasn’t enough to get me attached to any character. I wished they were more fleshed-out before introducing the whole concept of the story. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Garg Ankit

    The Hidden Child by Louise Fein is a historical fiction novel set in the build-up to WWII. It revolves around the eugenics movement prevalent in America and Europe at the time. From Wikipedia, "Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population, historically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior". Edward, the husband, is a vocal supporter of eugenics. His wife, Eleanor, is a dutiful wife The Hidden Child by Louise Fein is a historical fiction novel set in the build-up to WWII. It revolves around the eugenics movement prevalent in America and Europe at the time. From Wikipedia, "Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population, historically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior". Edward, the husband, is a vocal supporter of eugenics. His wife, Eleanor, is a dutiful wife who supports her husband. When Mabel, their four-year-old daughter, starts to develop seizures, the mother's beliefs in the movement begin to change. What follows is a mother's struggle to save her daughter from the world, even if it means that she has to stand up against her husband. The story is narrated by the husband-and-wife duo in alternating chapters. Epilepsy is personified, and gets its own voice in the form of short chapters here-and-there. This reminded me of what Markus Zusak did with Death in The Book Thief. Thanks to the author and the publisher for the ARC.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gill Paul

    It’s every parent’s nightmare that one day, out of the blue, your toddler suffers an epileptic seizure: eyes rolling back and body thrashing and jerking as if possessed. Now imagine it’s the 1920s and your husband is a eugenicist, who believes that genetic weaknesses, such as epilepsy, should be bred out of the population by introducing forced sterilisation programmes and institutionalising sufferers. This is the premise of Louise Fein’s stunning new novel, and it had me hooked from the first pa It’s every parent’s nightmare that one day, out of the blue, your toddler suffers an epileptic seizure: eyes rolling back and body thrashing and jerking as if possessed. Now imagine it’s the 1920s and your husband is a eugenicist, who believes that genetic weaknesses, such as epilepsy, should be bred out of the population by introducing forced sterilisation programmes and institutionalising sufferers. This is the premise of Louise Fein’s stunning new novel, and it had me hooked from the first page. Confession time: I often cheat by reading Authors’ Notes before I start a novel, and in this case I found out that Louise Fein has personal experience of an epileptic child. It’s obvious she knows what she’s talking about in her acutely observed descriptions of little Mabel’s eyes clouding over, her jerky movements, and the way her behaviour starts to regress. The story is told from the points of view of her mother, Eleanor, and her father, Edward, with occasional short chapters from the point of view of Epilepsy itself, a malign, opportunistic kind of demon. As Mabel’s health gets progressively worse, the story switches to the deterioration of her parent’s marriage. Lies are uncovered, secrets revealed, and they each find they didn’t truly know their spouse. We learn about epilepsy and the eugenics movement alongside them, and I found this fascinating; I love novels I learn something new from. I won’t include any spoilers, but your heart will break over what happens to poor little Mabel and over the choices her parents make. Like Louise Fein’s debut novel, People Like Us, it encourages us to imagine what we would do in the characters’ positions. It’s pacy, well-written, and utterly engaging. I can’t wait to see what this author writes next; she has leapt straight into my ‘favourites’ list.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Secrets….Edward Hamilton has one and now he and his wife have one. The secret they share together is that their daughter has epilepsy. He has to hide it because he is in charge of a study of eugenics and is on the committee for Great Britain’s educational system. It was sad hearing they were ashamed their daughter had epilepsy and kept her hidden from everyone. The treatment back then was awful, and my heart was broken for Mable. My heart broke for Eleanor too, and I didn’t like Edward or trust him Secrets….Edward Hamilton has one and now he and his wife have one. The secret they share together is that their daughter has epilepsy. He has to hide it because he is in charge of a study of eugenics and is on the committee for Great Britain’s educational system. It was sad hearing they were ashamed their daughter had epilepsy and kept her hidden from everyone. The treatment back then was awful, and my heart was broken for Mable. My heart broke for Eleanor too, and I didn’t like Edward or trust him. All he cared about was his image and his job. We follow the family as they move through their days worrying about Mabel and as a new baby arrives. The chapters where epilepsy speaks was unique and very interesting to have that in the book. I enjoyed the chapters about Eleanor more than the ones that featured Edward and The International Congress of Eugenics. The information about this Congress was very distressing and I never knew about it. THE HIDDEN CHILD hit home about the epilepsy because my brother has epilepsy, and I remember how frightening it was when he had a seizure. The book is well written and well researched with many ethical issues being addressed as well. Historical fiction fans as well as women’s fiction fans will enjoy this book. 4/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and a mother to a beautiful four year old girl, Mabel. her wealthy husband Edward, a celebrated war hero, is a leading light in the burgeoning eugenics movement - the very ideas that will soon be embraced by Hitler - and is increasingly important in designing the education policy for Great Britain. But when Edward and Eleanor's otherwise healthy daughter develops debilitating seizures, their world fractures. Mabel's shameful illness must be hidden or Edward wi Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and a mother to a beautiful four year old girl, Mabel. her wealthy husband Edward, a celebrated war hero, is a leading light in the burgeoning eugenics movement - the very ideas that will soon be embraced by Hitler - and is increasingly important in designing the education policy for Great Britain. But when Edward and Eleanor's otherwise healthy daughter develops debilitating seizures, their world fractures. Mabel's shameful illness must be hidden or Edward will be in jeopardy and the family's honour will be shattered. Set in the 1920s: What an intriguing and thought provoking read this book is. The author has done her research before writing this book. The story is told in alternating chapters by Edward and Eleanor's perspectives. Edward and Eleanor are both members of the eugenics society and when their four year old daughter has epileptic seizures, they wonder how she can be fixed and if they can keep her hidden. The pace is steady and I quickly became invested in Edward, Eleanor and Mabel's story. We also get mini chapters from the voice of epilepsy. I quite enjoyed this book. I would like to thank #NetGalley #HeadOfZeus and the author #LouiseFein for my ARC of #TheHiddenChild in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Such a good story focusing on the Eugenics movement in London.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Martie Nees Record

    Mini-Review This historical fiction looks at the eugenics movement, which promoted selective breeding by removing unwanted genetic features from human beings. In 1929, “Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and mother to a beautiful four-year-old girl, Mabel. Her wealthy husband, Edward, a celebrated war hero, is a leading light in the burgeoning eugenics movement—the very ideas that will soon be embraced by Hitler—and is increasingly important in designing education policy for Great Britain.” (Fro Mini-Review This historical fiction looks at the eugenics movement, which promoted selective breeding by removing unwanted genetic features from human beings. In 1929, “Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and mother to a beautiful four-year-old girl, Mabel. Her wealthy husband, Edward, a celebrated war hero, is a leading light in the burgeoning eugenics movement—the very ideas that will soon be embraced by Hitler—and is increasingly important in designing education policy for Great Britain.” (From book blurb). Their four-year-old daughter begins to have seizures and is diagnosed with epilepsy. The novel puts a personal spin on the horrors of selective breeding. This is a heart-wrenching tale with an unbelievable ending. This reviewer’s side note: Eugenics was popular in America during much of the first half of the twentieth century, yet it earned its negative association mainly from Adolf Hilter’s obsessive attempts to create a superior Aryan race. America discredited the movement until following the horrors of Nazi Germany. I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review. Find all my book reviews at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list… https://books6259.wordpress.com/ https://www.barnesandnoble.com/review… https://www.facebook.com/martie.neesr… https://twitter.com/NeesRecord\ https://www.instagram.com/martie6947/ https://www.amazon.com/

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Sundeep

    The Hidden Child by Louise Fein is a poignant Historical fiction novel. The author’s experiences while raising a child with epilepsy are the inspiration behind this story. Though it’s a fictional piece, at the heart of the story is the eugenics movement which propagated selective breeding by eliminating undesirable genetic traits among humans. Edward, one of the staunch advocates of this movement, his wife Eleanor and daughter Mabel are the central characters in this though-provoking read. Edward The Hidden Child by Louise Fein is a poignant Historical fiction novel. The author’s experiences while raising a child with epilepsy are the inspiration behind this story. Though it’s a fictional piece, at the heart of the story is the eugenics movement which propagated selective breeding by eliminating undesirable genetic traits among humans. Edward, one of the staunch advocates of this movement, his wife Eleanor and daughter Mabel are the central characters in this though-provoking read. Edward is involved in researching on eugenics, and is about to present his findings to the Eugenics Society. But things turn topsy-turvy when 4-year-old Mabel is diagnosed with epilepsy. To protect his social standing and honor, he takes some drastic steps to ensure the debilitating disease remains a secret. Eleanor, though initially supports the eugenics movement, Mabel’s condition and a few chance discoveries force her to think otherwise and lead to a change in her actions. Edward’s shameful secrets from the past continue to torment him, until the day he comes clean to the world, and Eleanor. As much as the subject is thought provoking and disturbing, it is the impeccable narration which spoke to me tremendously. Fein’s writing skills are exemplary. Her vocabulary and style are impressive; especially in the way she has paid attention to details and has woven intricate and unforgettable characters amidst realistic settings. The story is set in the late 1920s, and I was transported to the distant era with an ease. This is what I need the most from any historical fiction – the feeling of being in the story. Fein describes with utmost honesty the lives of the rich, poor and diseased. She details the demeaning and appalling attitudes of the elite towards the people affected with disorders. Apart from the settings, it is the characters themselves which made this novel a memorable read. Although there are many people involved in the story, it doesn’t get confusing. They all have their distinct personality and place in the story. Eleanor’s character changes impressively. The way she metamorphoses into a strong woman, a confident wife and mother is inspiring and emotional. Edward, though stubborn at first, realizes his folly and undergoes a transformation himself. And lastly, it is the positive and satisfying ending which made me quite happy. The Hidden Child is a well-researched and well-written novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I received an ARC from NetGalley and Head of Zeus in exchange for my honest review. 4.5 stars rounded to 5. BLOG

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dale Harcombe

    Science, medicine and superstition, along with a eugenics program feature in this novel. An intriguing read though the chapters from Eleanor’s point of view worked better than those from her husband Edward. Recommended.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julia Kelly

    A fascinating, engrossing book about a dark part of Britain history. Although the eugenics movement is difficult and often uncomfortable to read about as a modern reader, Fein manages to show the very real human cost of prejudice and lack of scientific understanding in the story of the Hamilton family. An important read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Eugenics is a subject I know little about but nonetheless I find it both horrifying and fascinating in concept. The Hidden Child isn’t the first fiction book I’ve read that covers the subject but its the first that deals with the subject in such detail. Here it is at the very heart of the story and focuses on a family that is in danger of tearing itself apart in the battle of beliefs over love. Professor Edward Hamilton, a war hero, is a man of science – his specialism being in the field of psych Eugenics is a subject I know little about but nonetheless I find it both horrifying and fascinating in concept. The Hidden Child isn’t the first fiction book I’ve read that covers the subject but its the first that deals with the subject in such detail. Here it is at the very heart of the story and focuses on a family that is in danger of tearing itself apart in the battle of beliefs over love. Professor Edward Hamilton, a war hero, is a man of science – his specialism being in the field of psychology and education. He fervently believes in the future of eugenics to create a ‘survival of the fittest’ and to improve the human population by only using those most desirable characteristics and breeding out the worst – inherited diseases, and anybody regarded as being of ‘feeble mind’. His wife Eleanor, having her own tragic background at the hands of an ‘undesirable’ supports this, however when their beloved young daughter Mabel develops one of the illnesses that is regarded as undesirable, the collision course is set for a dilemma of heartbreaking proportions. Hamilton is a wealthy man and they live a good life with well connected friends however all his money can’t protect him from what he must face with Mabel. The Hidden Child gripped me from the first page. I knew that eugenics had been part of American society until recent decades and there are references to the Aryan concept being promoted by Germany’s Hitler but I didn’t realise that the UK had been pursuing its own policies to such a large degree. The story is told from the alternative views of Edward and Eleanor with the occasional voice of Epilepsy itself, as if it were speaking from Mabel. This threw me the first time but it works well and is especially effective later on as the story develops. The writing is just superb – the characters are beautifully captured – despite his status and intelligence, Edward is a tormented soul with a backstory of his own. Eleanor loves her husband dearly but has grave doubts about the way forward and the decisions that were being made about their daughter. My heart broke for Mabel and the story made me so angry that innocent people could be regarded as ‘disposable’ just because they didn’t conform to what a few privileged people believed should make a perfect society. This was just a stunning read and there is so much more to the story that I can’t say here. It’s thought provoking and as well as being a fabulous fiction story to entertain, it also educated me. I loved it and it will without a doubt be one of my favourite books of the year. There is a very interesting author’s note included which tells of her own experience with epilepsy which explains why she was able to write with such authenticity and also a note about the Eugenics movement and the mix of real and fictional characters in the story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    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 e 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 them 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 very personal and touched me even more.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    I’m not really sure how this book ended up on my to read list, but it did. The subject matter - the eugenics movement of the 1920s - is certainly interesting. Unfortunately in this novel, it is a burdened by stiff infelicitous writing, ridiculous expository dialogue that is forced to display all of the author’s research (and a good many anachronisms - like when one character urges another to “live his best life”), and a treacly cloying plot (lots of wetting manly shirtfronts with womanly tears). I’m not really sure how this book ended up on my to read list, but it did. The subject matter - the eugenics movement of the 1920s - is certainly interesting. Unfortunately in this novel, it is a burdened by stiff infelicitous writing, ridiculous expository dialogue that is forced to display all of the author’s research (and a good many anachronisms - like when one character urges another to “live his best life”), and a treacly cloying plot (lots of wetting manly shirtfronts with womanly tears). I skimmed a lot and often debated quitting. An airport-y read, and not much more.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andie

    Another stunning book by Louise Fein! The Hamilton’s have a secret. Eleanor’s husband Edward is a pioneer in the eugenics movement leading up to WWII—powerful, smart, and revered. But when their daughter begins to show signs of epilepsy, their lives turn upside down. Now they must face the truth, and the consequences of his work as it gains notoriety. A captivating story with beautifully drawn characters and an intriguing plot—a must-read for historical fiction fans.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Hidden Child by Louise Fein is an excellent, thought-provoking historical fiction novel that is truly engrossing and that kept me interested from beginning to end. I really enjoyed Ms. Fein's previous novel, Daughter of the Reich, so I was excited to be able to read this book as well. This is a darker, more serious read then a lot of the current WWII era fiction that is present at this time. It is however very important that the subject of eugenics and what was attempted in the past continue The Hidden Child by Louise Fein is an excellent, thought-provoking historical fiction novel that is truly engrossing and that kept me interested from beginning to end. I really enjoyed Ms. Fein's previous novel, Daughter of the Reich, so I was excited to be able to read this book as well. This is a darker, more serious read then a lot of the current WWII era fiction that is present at this time. It is however very important that the subject of eugenics and what was attempted in the past continue to be remembered for the morality of the human race in general for the future. I have read quite a bit on the subject of eugenics and "selection" in reference to the mindset, proclamations, rules, and atrocities that were pushed and broadcasted from the Nazi propaganda machine in the 1920s-1940s. The fact that the ideals became so widespread is just astounding looking back at it now. The author takes this aspect of history and creates a personal narrative incorporating this. The story of Mabel, Eleanor, and Edward Hamilton and their specific situation in England was hard to read, but yet fascinating at the same time. What Edward had "believed" in and had supported was really shattered when it then was at direct odds with the illness of his child and what was at one time impersonal and politics, then became really, really personal. The inner and outer struggles that occurred within Eleanor and Edward individually, between each other, and in respect to Edward's political and societal statements were fundamentally at odds. I enjoyed how at least in this case the uplifting and satisfying ending. Unfortunately for a lot of families across many lands, this did not end in such an upbeat way. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and William Morrow and Custom House for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Judy D Collins

    I loved this book! My first book by the author - highly impressive! I purchased the audiobook, THE HIDDEN CHILD by Louise Fein and narrated by Marisa Calin. Highly recommend it and could not put it down. Full review coming!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Grace J Reviewerlady

    One novel you really don’t want to miss! Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have a good life; war hero Edward is a proponent of the eugenics movement to rid society of the undesirable conditions which afflict so many. They are seeing their social status rise and the future is bright until their young daughter, Mabel, shown signs of epilepsy. Ever mindful of his studies and standing, Edward convinces his wife to agree to lock their daughter up, hiding her away from the ever watchful eyes of society; but One novel you really don’t want to miss! Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have a good life; war hero Edward is a proponent of the eugenics movement to rid society of the undesirable conditions which afflict so many. They are seeing their social status rise and the future is bright until their young daughter, Mabel, shown signs of epilepsy. Ever mindful of his studies and standing, Edward convinces his wife to agree to lock their daughter up, hiding her away from the ever watchful eyes of society; but there are secrets in the past which could do untold harm if they were ever to surface. Can they protect their family – or will the truth come out? Before I refer to this book, I have to mention this author’s debut novel ‘People Like Us’ which was such an amazing read that it made me eager to read her follow up novel. This book is everything I expected – and so very much more. A fictional read, based on fact, this story has consumed me! Even when not actively reading, it has been on my mind and stays there even after completion. It is an incredibly breathtaking read which completely blew me away! Beautifully written, it at no time betrays the extensive research it must have taken and the immense skill involved in producing such a terrific read while incorporating the facts. I not only urge everyone to read this but to also absorb the author’s acknowledgements at the end – they are extremely interesting and informative. Louise Fein received many accolades following her first novel but I suspect these will be nowhere near the furore this one will create. She is not only an author to watch, she is one not to be missed. I’m not entirely sure I even know enough superlatives to do this novel credit; suffice to say it is one of the most prodigiously stunning books it has ever been my good fortune to review. Five stars seem so insufficient, but they are all I have; however they are shining and sparkling so brightly they will dazzle you!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ritu Bhathal

    This is my first book by Louise Fein, and I have to say I was glad I gave it a try. The Hidden Child is a story steeped in history, filled with beliefs that many of us would find hard to swallow nowadays, but which were held to by many a century ago. The story centres around Husband and wife, Edward and Eleanor. Both have a strong belief in Eugenics, and the plan to institutionalise those who suffer from certain afflictions and maybe even sterilise them, to prevent the risk of 'inherited' disorders This is my first book by Louise Fein, and I have to say I was glad I gave it a try. The Hidden Child is a story steeped in history, filled with beliefs that many of us would find hard to swallow nowadays, but which were held to by many a century ago. The story centres around Husband and wife, Edward and Eleanor. Both have a strong belief in Eugenics, and the plan to institutionalise those who suffer from certain afflictions and maybe even sterilise them, to prevent the risk of 'inherited' disorders, such as epilepsy, being passed down to the next generations. Until something happens in their own personal life that tears both them apart, and their own beliefs. I have to say I couldn't read this in one sitting because the subject matter was so deep; eugenics, the search for the perfect Aryan race, institutionalisation, alternative treatments, But behind those topics was a story about a real family, struggling with dealing with situations out of their hands, Reading the Author's note at the end was enlightening, as certain aspects of the story are based upon one of her own background truths, and it is also quite scary to read how much of what is included in The Hidden Child is based upon truths, politically, and medically. I have to say there were moments, as a mother, I had tears in my eyes,. There were times I wanted to cheer, as Eleanor grew a backbone, and also moments of upset when I read about some of the Eugenic beliefs. A really fascinating, and engaging book. It's not an easy read beach book, but something to take time, and mull over. Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Powell

    Wow. Just wow. This is a story of heartbreaking depth and voluminous highs. I had never heard of Eugenics or anything that went along with it and I feel wiser having read this. That being said, the description of the lives and history of the people in the story was fascinating in its own right. Really well done. Eleanor is married to Edward, a war hero and they have a good life. They live comfortably with the help of their staff and enjoy their daughter Mabel until one day she starts having fits Wow. Just wow. This is a story of heartbreaking depth and voluminous highs. I had never heard of Eugenics or anything that went along with it and I feel wiser having read this. That being said, the description of the lives and history of the people in the story was fascinating in its own right. Really well done. Eleanor is married to Edward, a war hero and they have a good life. They live comfortably with the help of their staff and enjoy their daughter Mabel until one day she starts having fits and no one knows why. Dwarf is a man of science and data and education and believes in Eugenics and the “survival of the fittest.” Of course, Mabel’s illness doesn’t line up with those beliefs so he decides that what’s best for them all is to put Mabel in an institution so that she can get help without being gawked at or laughed at or being the subject of the town’s gossips. In doing so, he alienated his wife, who doesn’t want that for her child, but being in that time period, she has little to say in the matter. She loves her husband and respects his work but doesn’t necessarily agree with it, especially about trying to make a “perfect” society and hiding away those less than. In deciding to fight for her daughter’s well being, Eleanor stands up for those with hat society might consider to be inadequate and learns how to care for her daughter with the help of some open minded people and physicians. I found myself cheering and weeping at alternating points in the story and even though it is fiction it truly was educating. Thanks to William Morrow paperbacks and Netgalley for this Arc in exchange for my review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fran Hawthorne

    One of the underpinnings of Nazism was a racist theory called eugenics that was distressingly popular in the U.S. and Europe in the 1920s. In brief, eugenics claims that “undesirable” traits like low IQ, “sexual deviance,” criminal tendencies, epilepsy and more are inherited – and thus society must deliberately control human “breeding.” That horrific theory is also the underpinning of this novel, which tackles it with an interesting mix of serious preaching and cheerful romance. Edward Hamilton—a One of the underpinnings of Nazism was a racist theory called eugenics that was distressingly popular in the U.S. and Europe in the 1920s. In brief, eugenics claims that “undesirable” traits like low IQ, “sexual deviance,” criminal tendencies, epilepsy and more are inherited – and thus society must deliberately control human “breeding.” That horrific theory is also the underpinning of this novel, which tackles it with an interesting mix of serious preaching and cheerful romance. Edward Hamilton—a British professor and fervid believer in eugenics – seems to have the ideal life with his wife Eleanor, daughter, son, dog, and country estate, until his daughter is diagnosed with epilepsy (an “undesirable” and inherited condition, according to eugenics). He insists that she be sent away to a Dickensian institution. The plot is largely absorbing, although most of the twists are foreseeable from early on. The epilepsy itself narrates a few chapters, which is a brave tactic that usually works. However, there’s too much preaching about both epilepsy and eugenics. The real challenge for the author is getting readers to care about two main characters who are proto-fascists and advocates of a creepy, racist worldview. It’s not too hard with Eleanor; but the book would actually have been more interesting if Edward were more complex and had more redeeming qualities from the start. (Adapted from my review in The New York Journal of Books https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book...)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    High 5 stars!! This is a well written heartfelt story of a mothers love for her child. I so enjoyed this story. It has a great buildup and storyline into a tense crescendo. Then levels out to a wonderful ending. The research of epilepsy was excellent. I came to care for Mable, little Jimmy, and the whole cast. I highly recommend. I received an ARC from William Morrow along with NetGalley for my honest review. High 5 stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sansom

    Having read Louise Fein’s debut novel - People Like Us - in October last year, it’s fair to say I was beside myself when I learned (through a spot of author-stalking on #BookTwitter) that she’s about to publish her second. Already, the author has established an incredibly powerful literary signature, drawing upon defining moments in history, with central characters whose viewpoints are alien, unpalatable and deeply controversial. (For those who’ve not yet had the opportunity to read People Like Having read Louise Fein’s debut novel - People Like Us - in October last year, it’s fair to say I was beside myself when I learned (through a spot of author-stalking on #BookTwitter) that she’s about to publish her second. Already, the author has established an incredibly powerful literary signature, drawing upon defining moments in history, with central characters whose viewpoints are alien, unpalatable and deeply controversial. (For those who’ve not yet had the opportunity to read People Like Us, the story follows the Nazi-supporting Heinrich family, and the painful moral awakening of their teenage daughter, Hetty … it was a profoundly moving book, an absolute must-read.) So when I learned that this new novel - The Hidden Child - was centred around the abhorrent Eugenics movement, I felt a frisson of anticipation that the author was about to publish another emotionally complex, historical masterpiece. Eugenics is the practice or advocacy of improving the human species by selectively mating people with specific desirable hereditary traits. At its most ‘passive’, it aimed to reduce human suffering by breeding-out disease, disabilities and so-called undesirable characteristics from the human population. But at its most aggressive it stretched to incarceration, enforced sterilisation and even the consideration of euthanasia of ‘defective’ humans. With most eugenists being affluent, white men, you’ll not be surprised to learn that most of the ‘undesirable’ characteristics they targeted affected people who weren’t one of them! It’s founding principles originated in the UK and US … yes, that’s the shocking truth of it. But it gets worse, because if you think this ideology sounds familiar, you’d be right … the principals of eugenics were adopted with horrific consequences by the Nazi party. The Hidden Child is set during the late 1920’s, with the spectre of the first world war still haunting the hearts and minds of the nation, and the country on the brink of enormous socio-political upheaval. It’s an incredibly abundant era in which to set a novel, and the author exquisitely captivates the reader with a potent combination of beautifully crafted storytelling, and shocking factual truths. Prevailing opinions of class, wealth, education, race, and female emancipation are all brought to bear on the plot line, each playing a contextual role in framing the actions and opinions of its characters. Never one to shy away from weighty topics, the author weaves these themes into her story with considered precision, balancing the narrative through intellectual debates between her most influential characters. In creating Edward and Eleanor Hamilton, the author presents us with two inherently good and - on the whole - relatable characters, albeit with strong beliefs that are entirely unconscionable. Edward’s profound conviction in the Eugenics movement, his single-minded ambition, his secrecy, his hypocrisy, and deceitfulness should all make him an easy chap to dislike - hate even - but the author never quite allows that opinion to take root in her readers, gently reminding us of his private internal conflicts, his war trauma, and his misguided attempts to build a better life. Eleanor, meanwhile, is distinctly easier to warm to, although her lack of conviction in her own opinions is infuriating; a mindset illuminated perfectly by the dynamic between Eleanor and her forward-thinking younger sister, Rose. The heart-wrenching cruelties of the Eugenics doctrine are brought to bear on the book’s smallest, most adorable character; two-year old Mabel. She’s Edward and Eleanor’s first child, and the centre of their world … blond-haired, spirited, fun-loving perfection … every eugenicist’s image of ideal genes and excellent breeding. Mabel’s seizures arrive in the very first chapter of the book, bringing with them a sickening fear and insidious prejudice that escalates and distorts as the plot progresses. Epilepsy is a condition the eugenists are keen to eradicate; they believe it’s the foundation of crime, sexual promiscuity, and weak mindedness; that it’s something to be ashamed of; that it’s hereditary; and that it should be tackled with some truly awful treatments. This is when the story takes a deeply distressing turn - the passages describing Mabel’s treatments were incredibly difficult to read; her fear and sadness are overwhelmingly palpable. It’s impossible not to be affected by her fear and confusion, and although the book is narrated by Eleanor and Edward, I found myself viewing their unfathomable actions from little Mabel’s perspective, making it all the more heart-rending. I found Edward and Eleanor incited extremely strong, visceral reactions in me; on many occasions I was absolutely raging at them … at Edward for his bloody-minded, egotistical ignorance, and at Eleanor for allowing her maternal instinct to be smothered into passive acceptance by pseudo science and patriarchal oppression. But this is an enduring story of hope and love and compassion, so whilst there are times when the author takes the Hamiltons to some very dark places, you can be assured of a hard-won enlightenment and redemption for them. Now feels like a good time to comment on a stroke of unique authorly genius, which enhanced the story with remarkable elegance … epilepsy itself has a voice in the book, acting almost as an off-stage narrator. Nestled between the alternating portrayals of Eleanor and Edward, it forces the reader to entertain the idea that the seizures can be illuminating and not just debilitating, whilst creating a wholly unexpected view of what was happening to Mabel. It was an extremely manipulative, divisive voice that reflected my own disdain of society’s prejudices, whilst also serving as the driving force behind the escalating tension in the latter chapters. An absolutely inspired touch! I first became aware of the concept of eugenics and its high profile followers a few years ago when I read Anna Hope’s stunning novel, The Ballroom. Whilst it wasn’t a main theme in that particular book, it piqued my interest. In The Hidden Child the author deftly exposes the ugly truth of eugenics as a British-born school of thought, refusing to allow it to be swept under the moral carpet by a carefully silenced bypassing of historical events. Placing the Hamiltons in real and imagined scenes amongst notary figures of the era (Marie Stopes, Winston Churchill, Leonard Darwin, John Rockefeller Jr to name a few) adds to the integrity and voracity of the story whilst demonstrating the exemplary research and plotting that’s been poured into this superb novel. I’ve come to realise I’ll always close Louise Fein’s books feeling emotionally and intellectually stimulated and enlightened. The Hidden Child is a thought-provoking, enthralling and morally challenging novel which exquisitely focuses your attention on themes which resonate as strongly today as they ever have. The enormity of its scope, and the moral significance of its context, has been encapsulated with a beautiful fluidity, enveloping the reader in a work of historical fact-fiction that reflects the sentiments of the era so well. An unforgettable and breathtaking triumph of powerful storytelling.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Hidden Child by Louise Fein is an excellent, thought-provoking historical fiction novel that is truly engrossing and that kept me interested from beginning to end. I really enjoyed Ms. Fein's previous novel, Daughter of the Reich, so I was excited to be able to read this book as well. This is a darker, more serious read then a lot of the current WWII era fiction that is present at this time. It is however very important that the subject of eugenics and what was attempted in the past continue The Hidden Child by Louise Fein is an excellent, thought-provoking historical fiction novel that is truly engrossing and that kept me interested from beginning to end. I really enjoyed Ms. Fein's previous novel, Daughter of the Reich, so I was excited to be able to read this book as well. This is a darker, more serious read then a lot of the current WWII era fiction that is present at this time. It is however very important that the subject of eugenics and what was attempted in the past continue to be remembered for the morality of the human race in general for the future. I have read quite a bit on the subject of eugenics and "selection" in reference to the mindset, proclamations, rules, and atrocities that were pushed and broadcasted from the Nazi propaganda machine in the 1920s-1940s. The fact that the ideals became so widespread is just astounding looking back at it now. The author takes this aspect of history and creates a personal narrative incorporating this. The story of Mabel, Eleanor, and Edward Hamilton and their specific situation in England was hard to read, but yet fascinating at the same time. What Edward had "believed" in and had supported was really shattered when it then was at direct odds with the illness of his child and what was at one time impersonal and politics, then became really, really personal. The inner and outer struggles that occurred within Eleanor and Edward individually, between each other, and in respect to Edward's political and societal statements were fundamentally at odds. I enjoyed how at least in this case the uplifting and satisfying ending. Unfortunately for a lot of families across many lands, this did not end in such an upbeat way. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Head of Zeus for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Before I picked up this book, I knew lamentably little about the eugenics movement – other than having an obvious awareness of the part it played in Nazi ideology and the extremes of its application in an attempt to secure the purity of the Aryan race. I had no idea that it had gained such traction in the UK in the period following the First World War, driven by the notion of “greater good”, the desire to prevent over-breeding by those perceived to be the lower levels of the population: and I ce Before I picked up this book, I knew lamentably little about the eugenics movement – other than having an obvious awareness of the part it played in Nazi ideology and the extremes of its application in an attempt to secure the purity of the Aryan race. I had no idea that it had gained such traction in the UK in the period following the First World War, driven by the notion of “greater good”, the desire to prevent over-breeding by those perceived to be the lower levels of the population: and I certainly had no idea that its principles had their foundation in America, its popularity driven by racial motivations as well as the suppressing of the unfit and the criminal classes. Firstly the notion of selective breeding – with a programme of compulsory sterilisation for the “undesirables” – then the proposal of euthanasia. It’s a frightening subject, and a particularly brave one to tackle in a work of fiction – but the depth of the author’s research is particularly impressive, making it a convincing and fascinating backdrop for the more personal fictional story at the book’s heart. Edward is a leading light in the eugenics movement – a war hero, his interest driven by the psychological and education perspective, but also by the new-found respect he has in the community. His wife Eleanor also has her reasons to be sympathetic to the cause – her mother was murdered by a man with mental health issues, forcing her to work to support herself and her young sister, but marriage to Edward has given her a life of comfort and affluence. Her young daughter Mabel is the centre of her life, four years old, lively and vibrant – until she develops frequent seizures, and is diagnosed with epilepsy. Eleanor is horrified by the brutal effects of her medication – Edward is perhaps more concerned about the impact on his personal standing when the news gets out that his daughter is suffering from one of the conditions the eugenics movement are endeavouring to suppress. As Mabel’s health deteriorates, and the bromide treatment fails to stop her mental deterioration, she is sent away to an epilepsy colony – Eleanor is convinced it’s a facility where she will be treated and cared for but the reality is something very different, while Edward is relieved that it’ll lessen the possibility of Mabel’s condition and its implications being discovered. The story is told from the viewpoints of both Edward and Eleanor. Hers is filled with domestic detail, her relationship with her rather more unconventional sister, the emotional impact of her daughter’s illness and all that follows, her feelings for her husband and her doubts about the foundations of her marriage. Edward’s track his dealings with the eugenics movement, his meetings and conferences, his conversations exploring the theory, the putting together of his research papers, all underpinned by his unshakeable belief that the ideology is the only possible solution – but also dip into his personal history and upbringing and the deep secrets of his past that disturb his nights. There’s a third voice too – the voice of Epilepsy, for occasional chapters, and it’s a device that’s exceptionally effective and well-handled. Despite their ideology, the author manages to make both Edward and Eleanor sympathetic characters, shaped by their time and their experiences – and the wider cast of characters is equally strongly drawn. Their story, of course, is a work of fiction – and it’s a strong and well-told story, one that draws you in and consumes you, with immense emotional impact. The way the author weaves in the factual detail is really exceptional – both the progress of the eugenics movement and the realities of epilepsy and its treatment at the time – and she creates a world and a time you entirely inhabit and believe in for as long as you read. I always enjoy a book when I learn a little – and this book also makes you question your own attitudes and preconceptions, pulling you into their dilemma, making you ask yourself what you would do in a similar situation. The writing is quite wonderful – emotionally astute, intellectually convincing, and all done with perfect pace and more than enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning. And do read the author’s afterword – it has fascinating detail about the historical context, and also explains how she was able to write so convincingly about epilepsy and its treatment. It’s fair, I think, to say that this wasn’t an easy read – but that’s only because of its subject matter, and although it’s a fairly weighty book it’s an entirely compulsive read with stunning emotional and historical depth. Without question, this is one of my books of the year – I’ll be thinking about it for some time to come, and recommend it most highly.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This is a very difficult book to read in parts. It's about things that happened during the twenties and in parts used children as subjects. I hated that. Set in England. I hated reading about these things, but it was real. It should not be hidden. It should be talked about. Let's not do this again. I sometimes wonder if it is happening or if there are people who are doing these things still. Or that want too. I sure hope not. When Eleanor and her husband, Edward, met she was working for him. Elea This is a very difficult book to read in parts. It's about things that happened during the twenties and in parts used children as subjects. I hated that. Set in England. I hated reading about these things, but it was real. It should not be hidden. It should be talked about. Let's not do this again. I sometimes wonder if it is happening or if there are people who are doing these things still. Or that want too. I sure hope not. When Eleanor and her husband, Edward, met she was working for him. Eleanor was very much interested in Eugenics because of a tragedy that happened when she was younger. Her and Edward start seeing each other and end up married. They have a baby girl, Mabel. When Mabel is four years old she starts having seizures. She's diagnosed with epilepsy much to Edward's shame. He wants it hid because of the work he is trying to do. Because of the things he wants to do. Because to me he is a very selfish, self centered person. Eleanor loves her little girl and the diagnosis does not deter her in the least. She's also pregnant again. After several miscarriages she is trying hard to stay calm so she can have a healthy baby. Rose is Eleanor's young sister. She's totally different from Eleanor. She's a kind of free spirited young woman who wants to be a journalist. She's also met someone and is in love. She doesn't want to get married though. Just have a love affair and live her life. She loves her sister and her niece dearly and she loves her brother in law. Edward has helped Rose a lot. He's a rich man who is a war hero from the first world war. Edward has many secrets though. While I didn't like Edward at all I do believe he loved his daughter. I think he's afraid of what will happen. He's afraid of what people will say. But that also makes him very selfish. His family should be the most important of all. He does some things that are just not right and that makes him very unlikable. You should never hide your child. You should not be ashamed of that child. Even his secrets are partial lies when he finally shares that part with his wife. I just didn't much care for him. I was aggravated with Eleanor at a few points too. She didn't seem to care for her new born baby. But then again she was going through a lot and needed some help. I did like her for the most part. I like most of the major characters. There were between chapters where epilepsy tells their part. That was very interesting. A bit different but so informing too. Even though I hate that it exists I did enjoy reading these. They tell a lot. This author has a great imagination. This book is good. It's a lot to take in in parts but you will learn a lot too. The chapters that are from Eleanor are the best. The ones from Edward got a bit tedious at times. Make you a little upset with him. Different point of views are always good though. The things that happened in this book will stick with you. Make you think. Possibly make you appreciate what you have. Even the rich at times have problems that money can't fix. Of course the money makes it easier I suppose. I enjoyed reading this book. It had some things that I had not known about going on and learning is a big plus when i read. Well done. Thank you #NetGalley, #LouiseFein, #WilliamMorrowandCustomHouse for this ARC. This is my own true feelings about this book. 4/5 stars and I do recommend this book. It's very good. Well written and held my interest. It made me have such deep emotions.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Li

    4.5 This is an incredibly moving novel which grapples with the complex subject and ethics of the eugenics movement (which I knew little about other than in the narrow context of the Nazis during WWII) and through Eleanor and Edward, having to confront the morality of limiting rights of the ‘unfit’ in society and society dictating who is deserving of status, recognition and freedom. While this is a fictional work, it is clear the thorough research that Fein has carried out to accurately present t 4.5 This is an incredibly moving novel which grapples with the complex subject and ethics of the eugenics movement (which I knew little about other than in the narrow context of the Nazis during WWII) and through Eleanor and Edward, having to confront the morality of limiting rights of the ‘unfit’ in society and society dictating who is deserving of status, recognition and freedom. While this is a fictional work, it is clear the thorough research that Fein has carried out to accurately present the historical facts of this rising movement (which in today’s world would be considered shocking) as well as demonstrating a lot of compassion in writing this novel based on Fein’s own personal experiences with her daughter. I particularly found it captivating how Fein personifies epilepsy in short chapters, giving this condition a voice and raising awareness of this mysterious condition that doesn’t seem to be clearly connected to inherited genes or intellect. The discussion of eugenics are uncomfortable to read but I equally found it enlightening and fascinating how there was support for favouring more ‘elite’ races following WWI in UK and the US. I really empathised with this family’s situation and it was heart wrenching to read about Mabel undergoing horrible treatment to try and rid her of the seizures. The strength of motherhood is so powerfully portrayed by Eleanor and her will to protect Mabel. Must read for historical fiction readers!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    Set in the 1920's, this book starts out with the perfect family, until Edward and Eleanor's daughter, Mabel becomes very sick. Once Mabel is diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy among children, this startling and unfortunate revelation has negative effects on their family. Edward, who is a professor having spent the majority of his lifetime working with eugenics, is dedicated to pushing for sterilization of 'imperfect' people in society and other meaningful ways and methods to 'remedy' epileps Set in the 1920's, this book starts out with the perfect family, until Edward and Eleanor's daughter, Mabel becomes very sick. Once Mabel is diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy among children, this startling and unfortunate revelation has negative effects on their family. Edward, who is a professor having spent the majority of his lifetime working with eugenics, is dedicated to pushing for sterilization of 'imperfect' people in society and other meaningful ways and methods to 'remedy' epilepsy. Even with his daughter's diagnosis, he continues to push forward with legislation in regards to what is best for society - leaving him at opposite ends with his wife. At times, I found this to be a very hard read, given the way he reacts to his daughter's prognosis and future and learning more of the underlying principles of eugenics when it comes to society. I liked the point of views from Edward and Eleanor throughout the novel, but found the point of view from epilepsy, I'm assuming, to be very odd. Having not read anything on this subject and eugenics, I did find the topic interesting and felt the book was well written. Thank you to NetGalley, Louise Fein, and William Morrow for providing me with an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kendra Choy

    Eleanor and Edward live a perfect little life. They have a beautiful daughter, Mabel, who is the light of Eleanor's life after losing her parents. Then one day, Mabel has an epileptic seizure and their world changes forever. Edward decides that Mabel should be institutionalized and sterilized to keep their bloodline "pure" so that future children won't be "tainted" like Mabel is. As Mabel's condition deteriorates Eleanor begins to regret her decision to go along with Edward's plans and begins to Eleanor and Edward live a perfect little life. They have a beautiful daughter, Mabel, who is the light of Eleanor's life after losing her parents. Then one day, Mabel has an epileptic seizure and their world changes forever. Edward decides that Mabel should be institutionalized and sterilized to keep their bloodline "pure" so that future children won't be "tainted" like Mabel is. As Mabel's condition deteriorates Eleanor begins to regret her decision to go along with Edward's plans and begins to take Mabel's future in her hands. Will she be able to go against her husbands wishes to save her child? This was a hauntingly beautiful story. I've read Ms. Fein's The Daughter of the Reich so was extremely excited to crack this one open and start on it. The story captivated me from the beginning. It was beautiful to read about the sacrifices of Eleanor to help her daughter, and at the same time horrifying to read about the eugenics and "selection" process that took place in WWII. As a Historical Fiction fan, sometimes I feel like all the stories are the same story with different character names after awhile, but this one was so different and so captivating! Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC in exchange for my review and honest opinions of the book.

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