Posts Tagged ‘baby-farming’

The Quietness – Alison Rattle

Posted in Historical Fiction, YA Fiction on April 12th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

The Quietness

Published
07/03/2013

Publisher
Hot Key Books

ISBN
9781471401015

My Rating
4 stars

I must admit to being very envious of the youth of today, given the plethora of well written YA Historical Fiction which was sadly lacking in my younger days.  Alison Rattle proves she is a force to be reckoned with, given the quality of her debut YA novel, The Quietness.

This is the story of two teenagers, Queenie and Ellen, who have very different experiences of life in London in 1870.  Queenie is struggling to exist in the dark, impoverished side of the city whilst Ellen leads a privileged but not necessarily happy life with her austere, emotionally challenged parents.  As the story progresses, the two girls find their lives interweaving but don’t expect a fairytale ending!

The author excels at painting a realistic picture of late 19th century London, you feel the physical hunger of Queenie and her siblings and you are confronted with the seedier aspects of poverty, crime and prostitution.  Also examined is the distasteful Victorian practice of baby-farming whereby unwanted babies were, for a small fee, taken away by ‘kindly’ ladies who were supposed to find them new adoptive families.  Women have few rights, be they low or high born and even the more socially elevated Ellen finds herself under the complete control of her unfeeling father.  For all the social disadvantages facing Queenie’s family, they definitely have a more loving relationship… albeit tough love.

Detailed scenes of childbirth make this novel more suitable for an older reader, most likely girls aged 14 and over.  If you enjoyed Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper,  you will be equally engrossed by The Quietness.  Looking forward to reading more by this author.

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