Monday, 18 November 2013

The Adoption by Anne Berry

In the world of Anne Berry’s novels, families regularly include people who don’t fit in and who have difficult relationships with parents and siblings. The Adoption begins with the story of Bethan and her impossible love for a German POW working on her parent’s farm in Wales just after the war. When Bethan falls pregnant, adoption is the only choice.

Baby Lucilla is taken in by Harriet and her husband, Merfyn, fellow members of the temperance league. They bring Lucilla up in a rigidly puritanical environment, but Lucilla has a wildness to her, a longing for open spaces, dogs and a talent as an artist her parents can’t fathom. It is hard to imagine a more incompatible family.

Berry’s novel flips back and forwards through the years as Lucilla, following Harriet's death, decides to trace her birth mother,. Slowly the stories of all three women are revealed: Bethan’s inability to forget her first baby, Harriet’s disappointments as a mother and Lucilla’s frequently unhappy childhood, and eventual rescue by Henry.

Bitterness has taken its toll on all three women. Only Lucilla has the strength of character to rise above this, and she is a brilliant creation, a free spirit with a wicked sense of humour.

Berry is an excellent storyteller and has produced a compelling book with an ending that offers hope. The Adoption lives up to the promise of her two previous novels: The Hungry Ghosts and The Water Children, all of which I would recommend, particularly to readers who enjoy books by Margaret Forster and Penelope Lively.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue Link: The Adoption

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