Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies

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Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A woman takes a job as a live-in nanny, hoping that the family will be able to give her some answers about tragic events rooted deep in her past.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: February 2014
Publisher: Windmill
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780099558682

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On a summer’s day in 1950, a smartly-dressed white woman brings her young mixed-race daughter, Muriel, to the branch children’s home Hoodfield House, where she will leave her and never return. Muriel is physically well cared for, but has persistent questions about her identity and place in the world.

In modern-day London, Rosie arrives at a smart house on a cherry-lined avenue, eager to start her new job as a live-in nanny. But unbeknownst to the Murrey family, Rosie has an ulterior motive for taking the job and has been watching the family closely for some time without their knowledge.

These two, seemingly unrelated events are, in fact, part of the same story and the narrative goes on to reveal the relationship between the two women by means of their contrasting perspectives of the events that follow. The result is an engaging dual-narrative that runs the reader through a whole gamut of emotions, including suspicion, fear, pity, sadness and joy as the full story unfolds.

The book also has several historical elements. Firstly, we learn how the arrival of the American G.I’s resulted in a glut of unwanted pregnancies and the resulting children, many of whom were mixed race, inevitably ended up in children’s homes without any knowledge of their parentage. We are also introduced to England’s first black aristocrat, the enigmatic Dido Elizabeth Belle, whose portrait hangs in Kenwood house where she lived. I would highly recommend anyone who reads this book to seek out a copy of the portrait, as it is very unusual indeed and Dido is a fascinating character.

I found the book extremely moving, as so much of it was rooted in real-life and many of the scenes touched me deeply. Muriel’s story is very sad, yet she comes to terms with events in a way that Rosie cannot. The contrast between the two women is at the heart of the story. The characters are deep and multi-layered and Davies has written some of Rosie’s scenes in such as way that the reader can feel quite unnerved and unsettled by her, which I thought reflected her wonderful versatility and skill as an author.

I loved this book and I think that it is one of those stories that will stay with the reader for some time after the book has finished.

Return to Sender by Zoe Barnes is another fantastic book about an adopted child searching for her birth parents.

Buy Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies at Amazon.com.


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