Coram Boy

by Jamila Gavin

I’m not entirely sure where I heard about this book.  I suppose I was browsing for information about some other title or some aspect of history.  The novel won the Whitbread CHildren’s Book award when it was published a few years ago, and I would say that the award was well deserved.  The title intrigued me, after I had visited the Foundling Museum in London (a project initiated by Thomas Coram in the eighteenth century) just over a year previously.

The plot is gripping, and the eighteenth century setting is completely believable.  The book is thoughtful and carefully researched, and the characters as well as the plot are interesting. Mish, the ‘baddie’, is himself a complex character and a victim of circumstances.

There are some books that you wish you had had the benefit of reading as a child.  This is one of them.  It reminded me of reading Cynthia Harnett’s The Woolpack when I was ten or eleven. That book, also a historical novel for children, made a powerful impression on me and awakened in me an interest in medieval history and the landscape of the Cotswolds, where I now live.