Saturday, July 8, 2017

THE CHILD BY FIONA BARTON - BOOK REVIEW

After feeling just meh about Barton's debut, The Widow, I was a little hesitant about this one. But luckily, I quite enjoyed this story.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Child by Fiona Barton. Thanks so much to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


This book follows the story of a baby found in a construction site. After a workman discovers the body, Kate Waters, a local journalist, decides to write a piece about the identity of the baby. The story seems to have connections to one decades earlier, a baby girl was stolen from the maternity ward of a hospital, leaving her parents shattered. As Kate works to piece together the story, she unveils troubling pasts for a group of women who have mysterious connections.

I don't want to say too much more about the plot because this is a thriller and I don't want to spoil anything.

Before I get too far into the review, I just want to say that you do NOT have to have read The Widow to read this book. Despite the similar cover and title set up (The _), the stories don't relate to one another. Kate, the journalist, is in both books, and the main detective, Bob Sparkes, from the other book has a few cameos in this book but for the most part, those are the only connections.

The story is told from four main narrators, Kate, the journalist; Emma, a woman who lived on the street where the baby was found with her mother; Jude, Emma's mother; and Angela, the mother of the baby who was stolen. Each woman's voice is fairly distinct, there were a few times I had to check to see the narrator but for the most part, I was able to differentiate.

Like her debut, this book is a bit of a slow burn. There are some things that were a bit obvious for me, but I think they were supposed to be obvious - if they weren't, then I guess that is a fault in the book. Things built slowly but the story still kept my interest throughout. There was a major twist revealed pretty much at the end of the book that I did not see coming at all. I think it I was a bit more invested in the story and aware of my instincts when something seemed off, I would have figured it out. But when it came out, I was shocked.

There were only a couple of issues I had with this book.

The first was with Kate. She kept mentioning layoffs and changes in the newsroom, but none of that really affected her. If anything, she threw caution to the wind even more so. I think that if Barton had made this element a more major part of the story, I could see the value, but by the end, it seems like an unnecessary filler addition. Drama the story didn't really need.

I think just generally there were a lot of secondary details that Barton included that we didn't really need. The story would have been exactly the same without the family drama in Kate's life or the professional problems with Emma's husband. I suppose these details make the characters more well-rounded and dynamic, and I would appreciate that in a fiction novel, it felt a bit cumbersome in a thriller. They didn't add to the mystery - although I guess they didn't really take that much away either. The book was more character driven than suspense driven so I guess those aspects were helpful.

I do think I liked this one better than Barton's debut, however. You can tell how she has grown as a writer and the tweaks in this story that could have benefitted The Widow.

Overall, I do think this was a good book, better than her debut, and would recommend.