The Lost Child

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

I wasn’t a fan of this story.   Felt challenging going from one part to another.  Didn’t have the flow I enjoy. But, some parts we’re good. I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange of an honest review.
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A couple of years ago I read the debut novel "The Girl in the Letter" by Emily Gunnis and fell in love with the heart-wrenching story and Emily’s writing. So, when she began talking about her second novel on social media I was thrilled and counting down the days until it’s release. Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to get my hands on an e-book copy of it and I was not disappointed; once again Gunnis crafted a wonderful story that is intriguing and captivating. 

Switching through points of view and time, this is a complex, endearing, heart wrenching, and extremely well-researched novel. Flipping between post-WWII, 1960, and 2014, it follows a line of women who are doing their best in their given situations and men who have their issues and are seemingly trying to help but tend to fumble it more often than not. The timeframe switches had me confused a bit at first, but once I got a handle on that it wasn’t too bad. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and found the plot twists and turns to be fantastic and well thought out. 

Given some of the topics covered, I was cautiously optimistic as I went along, but like "The Girl in the Letter", the sheer amount of research that had to have gone into this book was shown through her writing. Not only did Emily tackle the intricacies of familial relationships in a realistic manner, she also tackled mental health issues (specifically postpartum psychosis and the after-effects of war on men; both issues that I have rarely seen written about in detail outside of a non-fiction book) realistically and did so in a way that wasn’t disrespectful or only there to be used as an explanation of why characters do things. Additionally, while I didn’t like all the characters, as more and more about them was revealed, I found them to be well written and thought out and portrayed in a realistically flawed manner that humans are. 

If you couldn’t tell, realistic is a word that I feel describes the themes and writing in this book, there was one scene where realism doesn’t quite apply, but other than that I would say it does. The relationships and mirrored commonalities between the women especially were both interesting and gutting to read. I didn't know much about post-partum psychosis before this story, and it’s had me looking it up and reading about just what occurs to women who suffer from it. Once again Emily wrote a story that hits on topics not normally discussed and had me gripped to the last page. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next, I love how she mixes history and truth with fiction and brings to life stories that are enrapturing and educational.
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THE LOST CHILD takes the reader on a convoluted journey along a road filled with twists, turns and many destructive ruts and detours.  The troubled relationships among the various characters adds to the tension and raw emotion making this twisted tale of conspiracy and culpability difficult to put down as the multitude of  hidden layers are slowly peeled back to reveal how the various story lines are intertwined.  

The author, Emily Gunnis definitely has a talent for creating complex and compelling characters and situations.  She presents the various elements in the lives of her characters in small segments (sort of like eating sections of an orange) and, as with the orange, with each section consumed the reader is left  longing for another taste …and then another…..and another.

Perhaps the title of the book should have been THE LOST AND SEEKING since most of the characters, as well as the reader, are searching for answers and resolution to formidable and often horrific events.  Ultimately, perseverance pays off and all are satisfied.
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1n 1952, Harriet Waterhouse faces an untenable choice as her husband is released from the mental institution where he has lived for the past five years.

In 1960, thirteen-year-old Rebecca Waterhouse faces a tragedy that takes her away from Seaview Cottage and changes her life forever.

In 2014, journalist Iris Waterhouse covers the story of a mother and her newborn daughter, missing from the hospital.

The Lost Child is a well written novel that explores three timelines and deals with the issues of mental health, the effects of war on returning soldiers, and the effects of postpartum depression on women.  The constant in this story is Seaview Cottage and the families who lived there.  The timelines change back and forth, and the story is told from five different points of view.  If you enjoy multigenerational stories, you will enjoy this book.
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I feel emotionally wrung out. There is a lot to this story. There are different time lines which all interconnect. There is a lot of raw emotion and a lot of pain and love. PTSD caused by World War 2 and postpartum depression are a large part of this story but there also secrets and lies that have had a huge effect as well. 

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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War is hell. Devastating for those who lose loved ones, but what of those soldiers who return home irrevocably damaged? The story deals with this sad issue that destroys families and has consequences for generations to come. This story was well researched and written. I felt it was too long, hanging on to multiple story lines for too long. Perhaps better editing? Especially with the placement of a body that does not jive with cause of death. This book also deals with the serious issue of post delivery psychosis in the late 1940’s -1960’s.
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This book has many layers and stories, woven together with varying amounts of success. 

The central character is Rebecca and the whole book stems from her story. 

The characters seemed to be split into 2 distinct camps: Women with a predisposition for postpartum psychosis and incapable but well-meaning men. It made the whole book rather bland as you had an idea of how each character would react. 

I enjoyed it, but it isn’t as insightful as the author’s first novel. It’s an interesting idea, but the execution doesn’t quite work for me. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for my copy of this book.
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An interesting and gripping novel which moves between characters and timeframe and drew me in from the first few pages. I did however, find the movement between timeframes and characters required a lot of concentration at times, thus it was easier to follow  in several large chunks rather than little and often.    The author deals with some serious and harrowing  issues including the impact of the second world war on men returning to their wives and families, many unable to forget the torment and left suffering from mental health issues.  
Alongside all of this threads a story of postnatal psychosis which connects the female characters in the various timeframes. The historical treatment of this condition  was interesting and the stigma and treatment saddened me but contrasted well against modern approaches.
The opening pages find us with 13 year old Rebecca, being interrogated by the police in 1960 following the horrific and brutal murder of her mother Harriet.  Moving forward to 2014 we meet characters linked to Rebecca's past and discover another story plot focussing on Harvey's daughter, Jessie delivering her baby and ultimately suffering from postnatal psychosis and postpartum depression.  
We also slide back to 1945, where we meet Harriet at the end of WW2 wondering how life will transpire as she prepares for her husband to return from serving at the front. Each character has a story to tell and would have made standalone stories in themselves, which makes tying them altogether somewhat of an achievement for Gunnis.
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A convoluted novel about postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, in which all of the women--save a saintly, conveniently dead one--are unstable and dangerous to their children, and in which the men are either complete brutes or gentle but slightly confused and not terribly capable of thought. The book is written in a naive style and is over-full of cliches, neither of which make the story, characters, or issues compelling. A further rewrite and some editing would have made this a much stronger book.
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The seemingly difficult second book following an outstanding début novel has not materialised at all for Emily Gunnis. Instead she has once again written an astonishing, engrossing read that captures you in its spell right from the opening line. I had such high expectations for The Lost Child as Emily's début The Girl in the Letter was one of my favourite reads from 2018 and she easily established herself as an author to watch out for in the future. This new book was every bit as good if not slightly better than her first and it is a story that you will readily lose yourself in as the characters and story come alive on the pages. It's tense, powerful and a read that becomes insanely gripping the further you delve into Rebecca's story as the race to unearth the secrets of what happened one night when she was only 13 intensifies with each chapter.

The story was inspired by a picture of a lunatic asylum which the author saw. She then visited said place and what she observed and heard there provided plenty of food for thought. Out of this visit sprung The Lost Child and what a story it proved to be. I can't believe seeing a photograph could spark such an incredible story full of jaw dropping moments, lots of surprises and twists and turns and of course that mind blowing twist that you never see coming unless you are very eagle eyed and can spot and connect all the subtle hints and clues. I noticed a few things but never fully joined all the dots together but that didn't bother me in the slightest because I love to be taken totally by surprise when the big shocking reveal does make itself known.

The book opens on the 19th November 1960 as Rebecca Waterhouse is being interviewed by police and immediately there is tension, suspicion, anger and upset in the air. The blood of her mother is on her hands and she is trying to recollect just what happened at Seaview Cottage that night which has turned her life upside down yet in some ways it has offered some relief. She is of course devastated that her mother has died but not so her father who was nothing but a brute, a bully and a man who ruled by his fist. Yet no one believes Rebecca when she says she heard a different noise downstairs apart from her parents arguing and soon the police come to the conclusion that Jacob killed his wife. Rebecca has faced trauma in her life but she must move on but how can she do this knowing she has suspicions as to actually what happened lingering on in her mind. She is taken in by her friend and neighbour Ted and his son Harvey with whom she feels more than a close connection and bond to.

The story then moves back and forth between Iris in 2016 and we soon see how she is connected to Rebecca and from 1945 onwards focusing on Harriet, Rebecca's mother, and the years following the war. Also there are chapters with no headings or dates which appear every now and again. We have no idea as to who is speaking, only that it is a woman and that she appears lost and cold. These scenes really won't make sense until near the end but I thought their inclusion was brilliant as it only fuelled many more questions and scenarios to add to the various strands of the story. They were like pieces of a puzzle but more like the ones you leave until last to slot in because you have no idea where they go or even if they are relevant. The various aspects to the story were easy to follow and moving back and forth between the past and the present worked seamlessly. The entire flow and pace of the novel was perfect throughout. Uncertainty and apprehension at certain times and then at others a sense of calm as various things were being explored.

In 2016, Rebecca is very different from the person we first met as a teenager. She trained as a doctor specialising in psychosis and had two daughters Jessie and Iris. She has no semblance of a relationship with Jessie but now that she is pregnant Jessie has made an attempt to connect with her mother. But maybe there is more behind it than just re-establishing the mother/daughter bond. Jessie came seeking answers and perhaps what she heard or suspected has caused something to trigger inside her which leads to a main plot within the book. The effects of what happened to Rebecca's parents still have a lasting impact on her and it has shaped how she views the world and the interactions she has with people. A shadow hangs over a broken family which will only grow further if Iris can't get to the root cause of exactly what went on and in doing so she must try and help Jessie too in her desperate time of need.

There is so much pain, hurt and misunderstanding embedded deep within the family and things are never up for discussion or to be broached out loud. But when time becomes of the essence Iris knows she is the one that has to bring these things to the surface. Things are very complicated with nothing straight forward and easy to decipher and I loved the sense of mystery that was unfolding. You never knew whom to believe and it was only as we neared the final chapters that you fully understood what a remarkable story Emily Gunnis had woven. She has such skill and talent in writing stories that capture your imagination and have you rooting for the main character the entire time. She is an expert at bringing the past to life to connect with the present in the most surprising and earth shattering of ways and I was riveted from beginning to end.

As for the chapters set during 1945 and onwards, they really helped connect what was happening in 2016 and also the reader the more they story developed really came to understand what the bigger picture was. That there were many serious issues at play and the stakes were high in terms of reaching the core of what had happened in the past. The truth needed to come to light and it did so in a truly tense and strained manner. Harriet is glad that the war has been declared over but she fears the changes in her husband will not led to the happy life she envisaged occurring once the war had ended. There are diary entries detailing her time with Jacob and they make for a fascinating and very insightful read. We come to know more about her life and the situation she finds herself in and how she was forced to keep Jacob's true nature and the reasons for it under wraps. She did her best to remain in the job she had during the war but the actions of her husband mean she is forced to leave.

New employment is found and the source of this new income will have a profound affect on the overall novel as various plot lines start to come to the fore. I couldn't make sense of everything or always decipher its relevance but with such clever writing Emily knew where she wanted to take the story and it proved to be brilliant when everything started to come together. Only as I neared the end did I truly understand that every character, scene and event were all relevant and needed and they all helped to form a powerful and highly impressive story. Both the scenes set in the 1940's and in 2016 were equally as strong as the other as often the case can be with a dual time line story one dominates the other but I was glad this did not occur here.

Without doubt The Lost Child is one of my reading highlights of the year and it has only made me more eager to read many more books from Emily Gunnis. I hope she can write as quick as possible and bring book three to us without delay as I am keen to see what thrilling story and journey she will take us on next.
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Review of uncorrected eBook proof

1n 1952, Harriet Waterhouse faces an untenable choice as her husband is released from the mental institution where he has lived for the past five years.

In 1960, thirteen-year-old Rebecca Waterhouse faces a tragedy that takes her away from Seaview Cottage and changes her life forever.

In 2014, journalist Iris Waterhouse covers the story of a mother and her newborn daughter, missing from the hospital.

What role does Seaview Cottage play in the terrified young mother’s life? And will Seaview Cottage finally reveal the truth it has kept hidden for so long?

Believable characters, an intriguing premise, and some unexpected reveals combine to make this a compelling tale of mothers and daughters, of love and forgiveness. Heartrending and emotional, the absorbing story uncovers despair and courage, betrayals and lies, secrets and tragedy. As the unfolding narrative weaves the three storylines together, astute readers will easily discern the final twist long before its reveal. Ultimately satisfying and, at the same time, haunting, readers are likely to have difficulty setting this one aside before turning the final page.

Recommended.

I received a free copy of this eBook from Headline Publishing Group and NetGalley
#TheLostChild #NetGalley
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At first, I gave up on this book. Then I gave it a second look and really enjoyed it. There are numerous storylines here that all end up intersecting in ways you never see coming.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read this book, it was very enjoyable. I found the plot line engaging and the characters believable. I have not read anything by this author before but will do in the future! I will be recommending this book to friends and family.
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The story starts in the fifties and we meet 13 year old Rebecca who is best pals with Harvey. Something unthinkable happens to her beloved mother, Harriet and she vows she'll make something of herself no matter what (Senior Paediatric Doctor). She gets on with her life after that fateful night but that niggle is constantly there that that night someone else was there, watching her...

Fast forward to 2014 and Rebecca's estranged daughter, Jessie is due to give birth and is feeling deeply anxious. She wants to meet with her mother to find out about her past and why she might be feeling this way. Rebecca wants to help her but doesn't want to delve back into the past if she doesn't have to. 

Iris, her daughter with John, the love of her life is a journalist and has issues of her own. Rebecca asks for her help when Jessie and the baby go missing from the hospital and the race is on to find them before it's too late.

I loved how the stories of the past and present are so cleverly intertwined. We learn that Harriet, Rebecca's mother was a lady's maid to the gorgeous Cecilia and that her husband, who was broken after terrible things he saw during the battles of WW2 was unable to forget and lead a normal life.

The book is un-put-down-able and I never saw the twist coming! So recommend.
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A wonderfully evocative novel, tackling deep issues, not for the faint hearted. A dual timeline novel with an intriguing hook.
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Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC.  

This is the first book I’ve read by Emily Gunnis and it won’t be the last.  From the start, I loved this book, and was quickly drawn into it and found  the characters very likeable, and I had empathy for them.   It goes from past to present times, and tells the story through the different characters effortlessly.  I found it hard to put down, and read it in just over a day.  It was sad, poignant and haunting in parts, and this made the story more real.   A very VERY good book, one I will read again, and I recommend this book.
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This is a complex multi layered novel that goes back and forward in time
This book is a thought provoking, heartbreaking, emotional and compulsive read which left me angry at what women had to endure in those times
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The Lost Child is a multi layered book which needs some concentration. It took me a few chapters to get to grips with but it is worth persevering as you will soon be hooked. The true revelation as to what has occurred in the past to bring us to the present day story,  is not revealed until the very end so hold on in there. The way the tension and revelations build is a master class in writing which many authors could learn from. Well done Emily!
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Having read Emily's debut book of The Girl in the Letter and absolutely loving it, it was a total no brainer that I had to read this her second book.  Plus given how much I love historical fiction with dual timeline storyline involved, was more than enough incentive for me to read the book.

Well this story literally grabbed a hold of me and sucked me in. It was highly captivating, dramatic and emotional read in places, I literally could not turn the pages fast enough, with wanting to find out what happens next and as to how it would all end. 

It didn't take me long to be drawn into the stories of both Harriet/Jacob back in 1952/1960 and that of Rebecca/Harvey in present day, I was captivated right from the first few chapters. I loved how the story went back and forth from past to present day which was done so seamlessly. 

I thought the story was brilliantly well written, it's clear from the details within as to just how much research the author Emily must have done, she really has done a magnificent job. 
As for the characters they were all so very well portrayed and believable, I really did just lose mysel within all of their individual stories. I truly felt for Harriet & Rebecca, everything they each had to deal with/go through and the effects it all had on their futures. 

So last words, If you love books that tell a story in the present and in the past then I can highly recommend this beautiful tale which is heartbreaking, emotional, gripping, suspenseful and will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the very last chapter, oh and the twist at the end is shockingly good too as so wasn't expecting it.
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I absolutely love books with an historic mystery and this book delivered! I loved it and it kept me going with its twists and turns. Highly recommended #NetGalley#TheLostChild
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