Powerful And Heart-Breaking
Voices From The Past – The Baby by Elizabeth Uywin is a powerful and heart-wrenching tale based on the real life of Mary Cole born in the East End of London in 1924. It is the first of a trilogy.
The reader instinctively likes Mary Cole. We meet her as she emerges from the womb. She almost seems like an invisible baby to all but her brother Roy (whom she calls Roysty) and he adores her. Their bond is beautiful. Your heart will swell as you witness their love, and there are times when your heart will break too.
The Cole family live in poverty. Love was chosen over inheritance. What they lack in wealth, they more than make up in love. It is this love that reaches from the pages of the book to envelop the reader.
God is at the heart of lives. “ ‘Thank you’ he whispered to his ever hearing, ever listening God.” It is not uncommon for the vicar to just drop in on the family… although it seems as much for a high tea as for spiritual welfare.
There is much loss in the novel including that of grief. “I’ve got to keep working… if I stop, I think, and when I think, I cry.” The pain radiates outwards. Your heart will break for the characters.
To lose the male breadwinner in the 1920’s is to fling a family into poverty. The workhouse beckons. People will do all that they can to avoid it including giving away children to orphanages in the blind hope that they will receive an education and this will be what is best for them. Strong emotional bonds leave characters in torment.
Reedham orphanage, whilst it does have some kind souls, it also has immense cruelty. It reminded me very much of Lowood in Jane Eyre. Punishments given absolutely broke my heart and tore my emotions to shreds as I longed to scoop up the children and just love them. Elizabeth Uywin writes powerfully, ensuring that I am emotionally invested at all times.
Voices From The Past – The Baby is such a powerful read. It’s on to book two for me now. I really loved the inclusion of photos so I could see just what Mary Cole looked like.
I shall leave you with my favourite quote:
“Just because God’s servant can’t help you… doesn’t mean that God Himself is unable to. It’s at times like these that we need our faith.” Never judge God by man’s behaviour.
I received a free copy from Austin Macauley publishers. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.