Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Hidden Child by Louise Fein. My thanks to Graeme for the invitation to join. I’ll be handing my blog over to Louise shortly but first, let’s see what her novel “The Hidden Child” is all about.
Author : Louise Fein
Title : The Hidden Child
Pages : 490
Publisher : Head of Zeus
Publication date : September 2, 2021
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
From the outside, Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have the perfect life but they’re harbouring a secret that threatens to fracture their entire world.
London, 1929. Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and an adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a pioneer in the Eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright.
When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to develop debilitating seizures, they have to face the uncomfortable truth – Mabel has epilepsy: one of the ‘undesirable’ conditions that Edward campaigns against.
Forced to hide the truth so as not to jeopardise Edward’s life’s work, the couple must confront the truth of their past – and the secrets that have been buried.
Will Eleanor and Edward be able to fight for their family? Or will the truth destroy them?
| GUEST POST |
Louise on writing Epilepsy as a character
The Hidden Child contains a rather unusual character. In addition to the novel being told from the points of view of Edward and Eleanor Hamilton, I have anthropomorphised the condition of epilepsy to create a third point of view in the story. My original intention had been to write part of the story from the point of view of Mabel, the four-year-old daughter of the Hamilton’s, who suddenly and unexpectedly develops epilepsy. But as I was writing her, I felt her voice wasn’t working. Instead, rather out of nowhere came the voice of the disease itself, a rather sinister, mocking voice, who has a fair bit to say about the way human beings behave towards those whom the disease inhabits.
This character probably originated a long time before I knew I was even going to write this book. When my own young daughter was very sick with a severe form of epilepsy, I wrote a poem in which I described the ‘monster’ she carried inside. I imagine the character of epilepsy which popped into The Hidden Child indeed stemmed from the terrible condition which, at the time, stole our daughter away from us.
In order to make the character of epilepsy work in my novel, it had to have a distinct purpose which is bound up with the main narrative of the story. It has its own character development, plot and even a twist which intertwines with the main story. I actually had some fun with writing this character. Epilepsy’s chapters are short and in a mixture of first and second person, a little like a Greek chorus reflecting on the main narrative of the story as it progresses. It also gave me the ability to show what was happening to Mabel from an omniscient perspective when she had no voice at all in the book, rather reflecting the lack of voice of anyone at the time this story is set who was then considered to be ‘imperfect’.
Using a non-human character in a book grounded in reality, that is, one not intended as metaphor, fantasy, science fiction or magical realism, could be considered a risk, but as the narrative of epilepsy is so embedded in the main story line, I believe it adds depth, creativity and an unusual perspective to the novel. Indeed, I hope that readers will enjoy this character and its interaction with the story.
[I, for one, think that was a rather splendid idea and I wish I’d had the time to read the novel and find out for myself if it worked or not. Judging by the wonderful ratings ‘The Hidden Child’ has received so far, I’d say it did. Thank you for writing this, Louise!]
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Louise writes twentieth century historical fiction, based around unheard voices, or from unusual perspectives.
Louise lives in Surrey with her husband, children, two naughty cats and small dog Bonnie, who is the best writing companion she could ask for. Always at her side when she writes and listens most patiently when Louise needs to talk through a tricky plot problem. She is currently working on her third novel.