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The Hidden Child

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From the outside, Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have the perfect life but they're harbouring a secret that threatens to fracture their entire world.

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Louise Fein


London, 1929. Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and an adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a pioneer in the Eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright.

When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to develop debilitating seizures, they have to face the uncomfortable truth – Mabel has epilepsy: one of the ‘undesirable’ conditions that Edward campaigns against.

Forced to hide the truth so as not to jeopardise Edward’s life’s work, the couple must confront the truth of their past – and the secrets that have been buried.

Will Eleanor and Edward be able to fight for their family? Or will the truth destroy them?


‘Filled with suspense, clever twists, and fascinating historical details, The Hidden Child is an absorbing story about the transformative power of love. Louise Fein has created a nuanced portrait of a family in crisis, and with every passing page of this book, I became more and more committed to rooting for the main character, a woman who finds her voice as she fights for her child’s survival. This book is firmly rooted in Interwar England, but it contains the timeless message that the only real path to redemption is through the truth.’
Elise Hooper, author of Fast Girls

‘Louise Fein’s The Hidden Child is a poignant rendering of love and motherhood, human frailty and redemption, exquisitely told against the backdrop of the unthinkable. A heroine for the ages, Eleanor Hamilton’s predicament will tear your heart apart while her resolve is a testament to the power of intuition. Fein deftly takes the reader back to a terrifying turning point in history and, with grace and compassion, reminds us of the importance of standing up for what we believe in our souls to be true.’
Judithe Little, author of The Chanel Sisters

The Hidden Child is a heart-wrenching depiction of a golden couple in the 1920s when their perfect life is turned on its axis and shows the lengths a mother will go to when forced to protect her daughter from her ambitious husband and his twisted beliefs at a time when women’s voices were not heard. Shocking, emotive, and compelling, but ultimately a story of hope. I loved it.’
Deborah Carr, bestselling author of The Poppy Field

‘The Hidden Child is wonderfully spun through prose that is at times lyrical and poetic but always clear and forward moving. I was completely under its spell in this powerful,  engaging, and ultimately heart-warming story.’
Gill Thompson, author of The Oceans Between Us

The Hidden Child is the thought-provoking and compelling tale of one family and the battle to survive their daughter’s illness. A reminder that ordinary people can so often be responsible for some of the most shocking episodes in history.’
Louise Hare, author of This Lovely City

‘a powerful story of secrets and shame.’
Surrey Life

‘An astonishing story about an aspect of British history that’s long been swept under the carpet – surprising, moving and poignant.’
Frances Quinn, author of The Smallest Man

‘Louise Fein has done it again! At its core, The Hidden Child is a story of hope and redemption, of humanity and growth. Charting one family as it navigates trauma from the first world war, the impending depression, and the rising eugenics movement that will give rise to Hitler’s “Final Solution,” The Hidden Child is both intimate and universal in scope. I loved this compelling read and its complex, flawed, but deeply human characters.’
Addison Armstrong, author of The Light of Luna Park

‘This is a heart-breaking story with enough mystery to keep the reader gripped… A most enjoyable novel and a worthy follow-up to Fein’s fantastic debut.’
Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid’s Room

‘Another stunning book by Louise Fein! The Hamilton’s have a secret. Eleanor’s husband Edward is a pioneer in the eugenics movement leading up to WWII—powerful, smart, and revered. But when their daughter begins to show signs of epilepsy, their lives turn upside down. Now they must face the truth, and the consequences of his work as it gains notoriety. A captivating story with beautifully drawn characters and an intriguing plot—a must-read for historical fiction fans.’
Andie Newton, bestselling author of The Girl from Vichy andThe Girls from the Beach

‘An acutely observed and heart-breaking story of a young girl who develops epilepsy, with devastating results for her and her parents. I was fascinated to learn about the eugenics movement, and about the medical approaches to epilepsy in the 1920s. Louise Fein has a rare talent for immersing readers in her characters’ stories and inviting us to decide what we would do. Her writing is pacy, warm and engaging, and she has become one of my new favourite authors.’
Gill Paul, bestselling author of Another Woman’s Husband and The Collector’s Daughter

‘Combining the most beautiful writing with meticulous research, and a deeply layered story that will keep you reading well into the night, The Hidden Child is a stunning novel. From the very start, I was immersed in the world of Eleanor, Edward, and little Mabel. I felt with them, lived with them, and will be thinking about them for a very long time to come.’
Jenny Ashcroft

‘A family torn apart by misconceptions and forced to face their biggest fears, The Hidden Child is a meticulously researched, brave and timely look into the deep-seated prejudices that drove entire nations.’
Serena Burdick, author of The Girls with No Names

‘I simply loved this book. The Hidden Child is simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming… A ‘must read’.’
Liz Trenow

‘Louise Fein takes an unflinching look at a difficult and emotive subject. Clearly very thoroughly researched and packed with interesting period detail, The Hidden Child is a fascinating and thought-provoking story which is hard to put down.’
Caroline Bishop, bestselling author of The Other Daughter

‘I found it a brilliant piece of historical fiction, a fascinating insight into the Eugenics movement and a moving, personal story of the love of a mother for her child.’
Zoe Somerville, bestselling author of The Night of the Flood

‘From the first pages of Louise Fein’s The Hidden Child, cracks appear in the picture-perfect veneer of the Hamilton family. I found myself tangled in the complicated web of Eleanor and Edward’s marriage, and filled with both dread and hope for their daughter Mabel. Full of surprises, The Hidden Child takes us into the heart of a 1930s marriage as Eleanor and Edward navigate the boundaries of class, family ties, and the overwhelming fear of bringing moral shame into the light. A bittersweet tale that will keep you turning the pages until the wee hours to see what happens next.’
Laura Morelli, USA Today bestselling author of The Night Portrait

‘Demonstrating compassion and sensitivity, Fein weaves a plaintive tale of parental anguish set in turbulent historical times.’
The Booklist

‘The Hidden Child explores a dark chapter in history through the moving and deeply compelling battle of one mother to save her daughter’s life. Eleanor Hamilton is such a brilliant heroine, her love for her daughter Mabel so touching, the fear of what will happen to both of them so real, that I found myself racing through the pages until the very end. A truly wonderful novel!’
Nikola Scott, author of The Orchard Girls

‘Inspired by the author’s own family experience, the well-formed characters vividly illuminate the ethical issues of an era laced with prejudice and fear. The empathy the reader feels early on for Eleanor is gripping. Highly recommended.’
Historical Novel Society