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Customer Review

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different times, as thankfully now things have certainly changed for the better., 25 July 2012
This review is from: The Adoption (Hardcover)
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Seething with strong emotion under the surface of its rather workaday, flattish title, `The Adoption' is a triptych tale of three strong women: Bethan, the birth mother, and Harriet the adopting mother of Lucilla. Seen from their varied points of view over five decades or so, it succinctly gathers up into a perfect record of how things have changed over the years with regard to morality, parenting and boundaries of acceptable behaviour. Parents actually owned their children legally until their majority at twenty one and could withhold permissions that now seem outrageous.

Welsh girl Bethan's parents are post WWII strict ones of the toughest kind. They are mostly silent, scarred by the loss of their soldier son, scared of scandal. They bend their daughter's life quite out of shape with the best of intentions; her father rules the home and farm in a way that may seem inconceivable to modern women. Recognisable though to those over sixty now, the power such parents exerted is formidable. The way they refused to see that their daughter was truly good and deeply in love with a fine man is bleakly shocking. What a waste of possibilities. The strait jacket thinking of the times blinded them and gave their cruel ways a sick seal of approval. There are however tantalising clues throughout to show that nature can outstrip nurture; inherited skills, and physical frailties will out come what may.

Disappointed in life, Harriet is egged on by her husband to use the services of the dubiously helpful adoption society, "A Homeless Child for a Childless Home". A middle-aged woman, set in her ways, she is narrow minded, tricky and hard to like. Her kinder husband has his own demons but is warmer and more generously hopeful. Luckless Lucilla is definitely the cuckoo in the nest of their hard home. Being zealots, highly active in the Temperance League, their days are ruled by boring occupation, housework, keeping up appearances and anti alcohol missionary efforts with family and friends.

However there are happier days ahead for Lucilla or Laura as she later asks to be called. The gentle friendship and encouragement she encounters in her happy marriage and family life is beautifully portrayed. Like many others she finds the courage to face up to her complicated past and persist past the red tape in order to find Bethan and hopefully also the mystery man who fathered her. A man who cast a long shadow over her growing up with the whispered asides sometimes overheard and misunderstood, sotto voce confidences about his `bad blood'. Her rebellious acts, hectic outbursts and horrified dismay are totally believable and deeply touching.

Altogether a completely worthwhile read and in my case apposite as our family, as so many, has been touched by this `adoption' experience. Anne Berry has written a sincere song to survival, rebirth, accommodation and eventually a surprisingly wonderful meeting. Tremendous value, I am so pleased to have had the chance to read this pre publication and once again be bowled over by the tremendous talent there is out there waiting to be appreciated.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Jul 2012 17:35:07 BDT
Susie B says:
Hi Kate. Congratulations on another very interesting and helpful review - my grandmother, who is in her nineties, is an avid reader, who enjoys thought-provoking stories, and she has expressed an interest in this book. In order for her to receive the book more quickly, I was considering ordering a copy to be posted directly to her along with a couple of others I have carefully selected. However, I was wondering, if you have the time, could you please let me know whether there is any `bad' language in this book - the odd expletive, providing the character is provoked (!) is okay, but if there is anything too gratuitous, she won't continue with the story. Hope you don't mind me asking. Best wishes, SusieB

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jul 2012 19:00:35 BDT
Hello Susie: I have just flicked through the book again and as I thought there are no obviously offensive or ugly words, the language is truly clever, well crafted and a pleasure to read. The only place that is a bit iffy is when Lucilla/Laura, as a teenager rebels against her hatchet faced adoptive mother, for whom she will never be good enough, but even then it is all in context. I am definitely going to give it to my own mother who is 92 and loves being given bags of books when I visit, we then chat about them and very few are rejected as unreadable. There are nasty moments, as when the adoptive father makes a move on Lucilla but this sort of stuff is left to the imagination rather than graphically described. Action taking place off stage as it were. The affectionate loving marriage that Lucilla makes is heart warmingly rewarding to read about. I am going to pass it on also to my sister in law who was adopted herself in much the same fashion, almost being 'bought' as money changed hands in the courts in those days. Something that seems archaic now as does the influence parents were able to exert over their grown children. I am sure it will be well received.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jul 2012 19:14:14 BDT
Susie B says:
Thank you Kate for taking the time and trouble to check your copy for me and for the additional and very helpful information you have kindly provided. I look forward to returning to your site in the near future to keep up-to-date with what you are reading. Thanks again. Best wishes, SusieB
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Review Details



Katharine Kirby

Location: HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 212