The Five Shilling Children by Lindsey Hutchinson is a nice work of historical fiction. Nine-year-old Polly Fitch and her ten-year-old brother, Adam, are sold for five shillings each to an orphanage by their abusive father, Gerald. They’re distraught, but they have each other, three filling meals a day, their own beds and a brand new set of friends that treat them better than their biological family ever did. The one exception being new arrival, Rodney Dukes, whose bullying of Polly prompts Adam to hatch a plan to sneak out of the orphanage to learn how to box. Pugilist Billy Marshall agrees to train Adam after he realizes that Adam is the son of an old secret crush, Minnie Fitch.
Polly is eventually sold to a wealthy family and Adam remains in the orphanage. His distress is so profound his nemesis, Rodney Dukes, comes to his aid and comforts him. Everyone in the orphanage is upset at his profound sorrow, except the owner, Una Reed. All the children band together to help Adam escape so he can search for his sister. The children have come to depend upon each other and now long for independence and the type of companionship and love that can only come from family. The question is: what makes a family?
The Five Shilling Children is an excellent read. The characters are fully-developed and completely relatable. The plot is engaging and has surprising twists. The ending is wonderful. I truly enjoyed this novel and rate it 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to readers who enjoy fiction with a historical backdrop.
My thanks to Aria and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. However, the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.
Publication Date: September 19, 2019