Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Adoption by Anne Berry

The Adoption is Anne Berry's third novel and was released in hardback in June 2012 by Ebury, the paperback will be published in February of this year.

I am a huge fan of Anne Berry's writing, I thought both of her previous novels; The Hungry Ghosts (2009) and The Water Children (2011) were outstanding and deserved much more recognition than they actually got.

The Adoption is a story that almost broke my heart in places, the writing is beautiful - enigmatic, poetic, haunting and so very powerful.   The story concerns the birth of Lucilla, just after the end of the Second World War and is narrated by three woman; Lucilla herself, her birth mother Bethan and her adoptive mother Harriet and the story spans over sixty years.
Bethan lives on a remote farm in Wales with her parents and after a brief affair with a German prisoner of war, she finds herself pregnant and alone.  Despite her desperate longing to keep her baby girl, the adoption is arranged and Lucilla is given a home with Harriet and her husband.   They are an older couple, teetotallers, cold, unloving and with no comprehension of how to love and care for a child.  Lucilla's life is difficult and when she is informed, aged fourteen, that she was adopted, she only feels relief.

It is not until Lucilla is in her late forties that she decides to try to trace Bethan, after acquiring paperwork left by her deceased mother including letters to and from Bethan from The Church Adoption Society whose slogan is The Homeless Child for the Childless Home.

These three very different women tell the same story from their own perspectives.  Lucilla, Bethan and Harriet have been wonderfully created, their individual characters leap from the page - their faults are not glossed over  - they are honest and incredibly realistic.

The horrors that Bethan went through as an unmarried mother are portrayed so well, the showdown between her Father and her lover is so very difficult to read, the pain and the heartbreak flows through the writing and left me feeling physically shaken.  Bethan's future life is moulded by losing her daughter and this loss impacts on everything that she does until the day of her death.  Lucilla's life too is not a happy one - her adoptive parents live a life filled with secrets and lies and Lucilla always struggles to please them.  Lucilla's adoptive mother Harriet is a character who is very easy to hate, she shows no redeeming qualities throughout the novel and would happily have sent Lucilla back to the Adoption Society if she were able.

The Adoption is Anne Berry's best novel to date.   It is heart-rending yet beautiful.

Anne Berry's website is here, she has a blog here and you can follow her on Twitter here


  1. I am really hoping for this book for my Birthday. Having been adopted myself and now at the age of 47 I have just found my Birth Mother and two brothers, it is a subject close to my heart.
    Thanks for a great blog post.

  2. It's a really heartbreaking read Lisa. Thank goodness times have changed over the last 50 years or so. My Mum had me before she was married and everyone did their best to try to persuade her to have me adopted, but she managed to keep me. I hope you enjoy it x