An exercise in trumpet-blowing

My last post was about critics and reviews. Here’s a sequel: In the Family Way is not out until Thursday this week (5 Feb) but the coverage has been widespread already. Below is a sound-bite digest, compiled for my publishers, of all the reviews I’ve seen so far. I hope it’s of interest to those of you who helped me research the book; I can only thank you again for all your contributions. People kindly say I’ve given you a voice in the book, but really you’ve given me yours, and I’m grateful.

Here goes, then. As of today, 2 February:

In the Family Way is an important social history tracked through personal stories that need to be heard and will soon be beyond memory.  Elizabeth Grice, Daily Telegraph 24.01.15 (five-star review)

Robinson, who wrote the excellent Bluestockings, has a good eye for the human story and the affecting detail that brings alive the hypocritical moral landscape of the period. Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times 25.01.15 (lead review)

[Robinson] has made contact with 100 unmarried mothers and their progeny and deftly interweaves their stories with the political and institutional history… The chapter on single fathers is especially interesting because it defies expectations.  Lara Feigel, Observer 25.01.15

Robinson has worked to give back a voice to those not traditionally allowed one… Taken together, the individual stories of secrecy and enforced separation form a powerful testament to the hypocrisy and cruelty of our culture.   Michele Roberts, Independent, 29.01.15

A fascinating journey into the history of illegitimacy… In this incredibly touching book, social historian Jane Robinson reveals family secrets kept for entire lifetimes, enabling us to hear long-silent voices… Elegant and compassionately written… Eloquent and highly readable. Family Tree Magazine, 30.01.15

 A four-page feature written by Jane appears in the February issue of Britain’s best-selling monthly magazine, Saga Magazine. 30.01.15

[In the Family Way’s] heart is firmly in the right place. It is a book that makes a woman want to reach for an AK47 to avenge the past; or at the very least to buy a copy to politicize their daughters.   Melanie Reid, Times, 31.01.15

The closer Robinson’s survey comes to our own day, the more shocking it grows… In the Family Way is not, incidentally, without its funny side. I particularly enjoyed this…   Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday. 01.02.15

Sunday Times ‘must read’ recommendation, 01.02.15

In the Family Way is both engaging and incredibly moving and will strike a profound chord with many readers.   Sarah Franklin, Sunday Express, 01.02.15

So there we are. All this makes it sound as though everyone has been raving in praise of the book; that’s not quite the case, as you’ll appreciate if you read Craig Brown’s review in the Mail on Sunday or Michele Roberts’ in the Independent. But I think – hope – all agree that it’s a book that needed to be written; a subject we need to address.

Fingers crossed for publication day. See you on the other side.

4 thoughts on “An exercise in trumpet-blowing

  1. While still waiting for my copy of the book to arrive I am able to make a comment because I am one of the thousands of mothers who lost their babies to adoption in the period 1950 to 1980. I welcome this work and hope it will bring out story to readers all over the UK. For more information about our movement please go to and see our AVAAZ petition. If you wish to support us please sign the petition and ask your friends to do so; please also ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 301 currently before parliament. I now await my book and thank Jane Robinson on behalf of the thousands of mothers who still hope to find or be found by their children

  2. I was also one of the girls sent to one of the homes and mentioned in the book . My story took a different turn in that my baby was stillborn . Finally found her grave last year – fifty years later ! I took delivery of the book yesterday and can hardly put it down ! Please read as I’ve found that a lot of people I have spoken to lately never even knew those places existed !

  3. To Pauline Roberts – I am sad to read your story. Somehow your name sounds familiar. Could we have been at the same so-called “Home”. I am glad you found your daughter’s grave. This reminds me of another mother I knew. She hoped and searched for years to find or be found by her daughter, Requests to Westminster Social SErvices who inherited her records from a private adoption society brought no information; she grieved for years, till she was in her seventies. Then one of the officials at Westminster relented and opened her file and told her that her daughter had died at the age of eleven. Thirty years of grieving for a child who was no longer alive. Furthermore, her request to visit the grave was refused. This is another reason why the Movement for and Adoption Apology (MAA) needs support.

    • Hi Helen Thankyou for your Email . I feel for the lady who found that her daughter had died Must have been a terrible shock ! Surely she has a right to visit her grave ? How can you bring someone into the world then be denied that right ? I was in Hopedene home for unmarried mothers in Elswick Road Newcastle-upon -Tyne in 1964 from Feb thro till June My maiden name was Sutcliffe My parents were disgusted with me and I have felt a buried anger towards them for the whole fifty years since . In all that time my ‘sin’ was never spoken about but when I retired at sixty everything kept coming back to me and I ended up seeing a mental health councillor She told me to confront my mother about it (my father died a few years ago) I recently did so and once I opened my mouth I couldn’t stop! I know my child would never had died if she had been born anywhere else and I told my mother that I hold her responsible for her death by putting me in such a place ! She actually apologised but I really think it was to shut me up Things are back to normal between us now but I find it hard to have feelings for her My time in there has caused me long periods of depression and anxiety ever since ! I married in 1968 and we have had a long happy marriage and are blessed with four sons who I adore and many grandchildren but I never had another daughter Would love to hear your story .

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