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Fascinating social history reflected in one family
on 27 April 2012
This is the story of one family over three generations and their varied experience of adoption. Three members of the family are adopted in three different ways over the years and the author (who is writing about her own relatives) describes how the adoptions came to be and how the children fitted into their new family and the community in which they lived.
To tell the story the book follows the history of the family over nearly 100 years and in the process tells us about the social history of Chesterfield (a mining town in Derbyshire) and its people. The family actually live in a rural village outside the town and run a small shop which forms the basis of family life for many years.
This is a fascinating read. The tales of adoption make it very interesting but the author has undertaken some very good research about living conditions at the time which helps the family come to life for the reader by placing their lives in a larger cultural context. She has also included extracts from relevant books and publications which add to the whole story.
Biographies and histories telling the story of a family over a few generations are plentiful and the book does not really tell the reader anything that they probably do not know from similar books but the adoption element adds additional interest. I would have liked the author to examine the adoptions and their implications in slightly more detail than she does, I would also have liked a few more facts and figures about how many of these types of adoptions took place during these periods (although that information may not be available).
I recommend this as an interesting social history of the period. The story is well told and engaging and there is plenty of well researched detail. This book can be compared with Margaret Forster's Hidden Lives: A Family Memoir which I would also recommend to anyone interested in this type of biography/social history.