Kate Waters is a journalist in her early forties. She is married to an oncologist and is the mother of two sons. Devoted to her work, she tenaciously seeks out the story, but mostly she seeks the truth. When an infants body is unearthed at a building site not far from her home in East London, Kate is determined to find out the baby’s identity and find out why someone would bury a wee infant without ceremony.
Angela Irving – Back in 1970 Angela had given birth to a baby girl whom she named Alice. The baby was stolen out of her cot on the maternity ward while Angela had gone to have a shower. Ever since, Angela and her husband, Nick, have wondered what happened to their tiny baby girl. Although they are the parents of two other children, Alice was never forgotten.
Emma Simmonds – Emma is in her early forties and works at home editing celebrity memoirs. She is married to a man much older than herself who loves her with devotion. For years Emma has been keeping secrets from everyone. As a result, she suffers deep-seated anxiety issues and takes tranquilizers to cope. She has recently resumed contact with her narcissistic mother after being estranged for over twenty years. Jude, her mother, threw her out of the house when she was just sixteen years old.
When DNA tests reveal the identity of the baby, one would think that the information would bring closure to at least one woman, however the opposite is true. A whole can of worms is opened and Kate Waters is determined to discover the truth about the ‘child’.
The action in this novel takes place two years after “The Widow“, a novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. The journalist, Kate Waters plays a much larger role in this novel which can easily be read as a stand-alone.
“The Child” gives the reader a glimpse into Kate’s home life with her husband and sons making her a more empathetic character. This time out Kate has a trainee journalist in tow, creating more stress to her life. Also, Kate’s oldest son has dropped out of university and wants to travel to Thailand – a course of action that Kate strongly disapproves of.
Kate, hoping to tell the simple story of a forgotten child, unearths secrets that will directly impact on the lives of many people. Her moral dilemma – should she tell all when the secrets are not hers to tell?
As with “The Widow”, Fiona Barton has concocted a compelling story that is plausible and oftentimes distressing. The author’s many years of experience in journalism ensures that the story feels very authentic. The skillful writing causes the reader to become invested in the characters.
“The Child” would make an excellent book club selection as it raises many issues that are ripe for discussion. Click here for a “Reading Group Guide“.
In summation, “The Child” is a worthy successor to “The Widow” and I highly recommend both titles to readers who enjoy thrillers that hold a ring of truth.
Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. Born in Cambridge, England, she currently lives in southwest France.
Connect with Fiona Barton on Twitter.