Troubador The Echo of a Footfall

Released: 28/11/2019

ISBN: 9781838591724

eISBN: 9781838597498

Format: Paperback/eBook

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The Echo of a Footfall


In 1926, having cared for her sick mother on her own for some years, 16 year old Mary gives birth to a baby boy in the Workhouse. Abandoned by her mother, unsupported by the child’s father, and behaving in ways the Workhouse finds difficult to manage, her baby is taken from her and she is sent to the local mental hospital (previously the lunatic asylum). Here, with the help of other inmates, and encouraged by an ambitious young woman seeking her vocation as a nurse, she begins a long process of discovery and development, learning to read and write, and then to cook and cater for the staff and patients in the institution that becomes her home.

Set against a backdrop of changes in attitude to, and treatments for, mental illness, and reflecting developments in post war societal structures, particularly those involving immigration from the Empire, Mary’s story spans over 50 years, as, discharged from the hospital, she continues to strive to find her identity, to understand where she belongs, and ultimately to find her baby. While the influence of the Great War on the lives of those who survived it echoes over the lives of the generations that follow, Mary yearns for a caring and tolerant community to support the family she finally creates for herself.

By chance, I read The Echo of a Footfall on the back of Pat Barker's Regeneration which covers the work of WHR Rivers' treatment of soldiers in mental wards, mainly those suffering from shell shock, during the First World War. Pat Scampion's book follows on chronologically. And although it focusses on female patients, it details how treatment and care of patients has evolved until quite recently. The story focuses on a group of women, at first almost haplessly confined to a workhouse, and how they grew in strength, confidence and independence with reforms and changes to the system. But what stood out most for me was the love and support they shared with each another. An important story, well written and beautifully told.

by Charles Monkhouse

This book was so good! The characters were so well rounded, you felt like you actually knew them! The plot was so good you didn't want the book to end!

by Alicia

Beautiful book depicting the journey of a young woman sent to an asylum at age 16 for long years until she eventually could leave the institution. Mary had a baby, was not married and therefore considered a depraved person. Through her life the reader not only learns about life in an asylum but also raises questions as to individual identity and belonging. The characters of the book all have issues about their own identity even though their origins are completely different. Excellent book. Thank you Patricia and NetGalley for letting me read this book.

by Christine

Mary is sent to an insane asylum because she was pregnant, unwed and sixteen years old. The year is 1926 when people were sent to institutions if they did not fit into normal life, insane or not. Mary misses her baby and will not be told where he is. Life in these institutions is clearly explained as they evolve through the years. and finally are closed. I felt this book to be very interesting as I learned what life was like for these people behind the walls or after being released.

by Beverly

A very intriguing read about a young girl in 1926 who get locked up in an institution because she becomes pregnant at a young age. It follows her time in the institution until they move her out to a community, where she must learn to live in the real world again and search for answers of what happened to her baby. It is a story about loss, friendship, and dealing with what life throws at you. It is a beautifully written and the characters all have to deal with some form of out of their hands life issues throughout the book. I highly recommend this book to others! I recieved this free ebook in exchange for an honest review.

by Marcie

This book took me on quite a ride, some of it good and some of it not so good. The premise is one that I found interesting. At the turn of the 20th century, the world was undergoing a big transformation with regard to mental health. There was still a lot of the old methods of locking people away because they didn’t fit into the societal mold. But the world was also beginning to wonder if that was the best way to deal with “deviant” people, or perhaps they should focus on the truly mentally ill with more compassion. This is where Mary comes in. She has a baby out of wedlock right in the middle of this period. Her baby is taken and she is sent to the asylum where she spends most of her life. This was the story of Mary finding her own family and creating her own community.

This book was a slow burn. I mean, really slow. Most of this book is just people having conversations. Sometimes that made things a bit boring and I started to skim because nothing was happening. The first part of the book that takes place in the asylum was the most boring. Not only was the majority of the story taking place in conversations but the limited actions outside of those conversations were also extremely repetitive. Wake up, go to breakfast, go to the yard for exercise, go to the day room, go to bed. For about 140 pages. It was dull and I found that I didn’t care much about what happened.

Once Mary is transitioned out of the asylum the story started to take off. Now it was getting interesting. She is a middle aged woman who suddenly has to figure out how to make money, make friends, buy clothes, all the normal adult things that one does. She doesn’t even know how a person is supposed to buy underwear because she’s been in an asylum since she was 16. That transition was hard for her as she both yearned for her freedom and was scared to relinquish the safety and security of asylum life. It was a compelling story and I enjoyed watching her make friends and create a community around her.

My biggest problem with the book was that the author seemed to want to connect everyone to Mary personally. By the end of the book pretty much every single person that Mary was close to had kept some secret from her about how they were related to her former life or her child’s life. And then in the epilogue the author told us who Mary’s child was. I was frustrated because it felt contrived. I already had emotions towards these people and their relationship with Mary, why did we have to have this extra layer that added no substance? The whole point of the book was that even though Mary never found her long lost son she created a family for herself, filled with love and trust. It should have been left there and I should have never known who her son was.

Overall, a compelling story about a tragic young woman who transform into a formidable grown woman. A story about a woman creating her own way, even when the world didn’t think she could. And that was a great book.

by Stefani

his was an interesting book which kept my intrigued as we were introduced to a young girl named Mary, who is placed in an asylum for having a child out of wedlock.

I felt all kinds of emotions reading this book, but the most prominent feeling was anger. She never really belonged in this institution, but spent most of her life there. As you read on, you learn that things happened beyond her control and yet she was still labeled a "temptress", even by some of the people closest to her. Some others labeled her as a "lunatic: without even really learning the circumstances which put her there in the first place. You felt like she was naive and childlike throughout the whole entire book, mainly because that is the way most people treated her.

It takes awhile for her to want to leave once she has the permission to be out on her own. Once she learns she really has nobody outside the walls of the asylum, she doesn't want to leave her friends. Some of these friends are closer to her than she ever realizes.

I am proud of her that she learned to read, wrote her own cookbook, and had the courage to finally be independent, but she did it at such a late age. She had so much more life she could have experienced, but at the same time, she also ended up having all she ever needed.

by Jamie

The Echo of a Footfall is a memoir of a fictional character Mary spanning about 50 years. Mary is abandoned and everyone around her hurt her for some reason or other. This is a story that iterates the fact that our surroundings and encouragement uplift us! The story starts off slow, but you can feel what Mary feels, her hurt, her development, her mind voice! The author has penned it down well. I found the asylum to be too much, but the story is in 1930s.. so who knows, people could’ve been that cruel! The love and encouragement that Mary got in that asylum from nurses and fellow “inmates” were was heartwarming! Pick this one if you want some uplifting and the satisfaction of reading a good woman’s fiction!

by Monika

We discover a dark and dangerous place, one where screams of madness are unheard or at least, ignored; this is where we find Mary. She has been wrongly placed into a dark and unfamiliar world for her sins as a child, we follow Mary’s trials as she learns to live in her new world full of the strange steps characters.

This book is beautifully written, the author describes the scene so well, you can hear the same sounds Mary can, you can smell the same same smells and you begin to feel her fear.
I really enjoyed this book, well worth a read!

by NetGalley review

Patricia Scampion

Patricia Scampion is a retired paediatrician who worked in or visited a number of the old residential hospitals for people with a mental illness or with learning or physical disabilities in the early years of her training. She has two daughters and granddaughters, and lives with her husband in Derbyshire.

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