BOOK CLUB: The Stolen Baby

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The Stolen Baby by Diney Costeloe, (aka Diney Delancey), is the first book I have read by this author, but is her fourteenth published book.

It’s set in Plymouth at the height of the Blitz in World War II, and based on a true story. This book will tug at the heartstrings of every mother as it deals with the trauma of neonate death, and a baby’s disappearance.

Maggie and Colin Petersen have moved to Plymouth from London after the trauma of their baby’s death, just a few hours after his premature birth.

Colin knew Maggie didn’t want to move to Plymouth, but had hoped that a transfer would be a fresh start for them both, and it came with a promotion, from Constable, to Sergeant.

Then there’s the Shawbrookes. They’re a typical family of the times, on a night that will change their lives forever. David, an Air Raid Warden, is out on patrol. Nancy, his wife, is home with the five younger children.

On that fateful night when the air raid sirens go off, Nancy hustles the sleeping youngsters from their beds and down the road to the public air raid shelter. It’s only when 18-year old Vera flies into the shelter that it is realised that baby Freddie is still in his cot, in the home, on his own.

Eleven year old Ernie Drake stops outside a badly damaged house and is surprised to hear a baby crying. When Sergeant Colin Petersen places the heavy hand of the law on his shoulder he insists he wasn’t out looting but thought he’d heard someone inside.

Petersen discovers the baby and convinces himself that the rescue centres will be overwhelmed. He’ll just take the baby home for the night, and hand it in to the rescue centre in the morning.

For his wife Maggie, a baby arriving in the house is like a dream come true.

Meanwhile it becomes apparent that baby Freddie survived the bombing, and that someone has him, and doesn’t plan on giving him back. But who, and where, and how to track them down?

Costeloe does a fabulous job of bringing the reality, the impact and the experiences of the Blitz to life. The amazing resilience of those who dealt with the trauma of losing homes and family and yet retained the tenacity to keep on keeping on.

The characters are three dimensional, their actions and reactions completely appropriate for the time period. The images of the destruction caused by the bombing clearly painted and for those of us a little older, whose early lives preceded the internet, the memories of how slowly information disseminated and communication occurred are remembered.

A gripping story that keeps you engrossed from beginning to end.

With many thanks to Head of Zeus and Beauty and Lace Book Club for the opportunity to read and review The Stolen Baby by Diney Cotesloe.

A first class read, highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction.

Author: Diney Costeloe
ISBN: 9781789543322 (e-book)
Copy courtesy of Head of Zeus

Diney Costeloe is the author of another book club read, The French Wife.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Stolen Baby by Diney Costeloe. You can read their comments below, or add your own review. Sign up for our club here.

13 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Stolen Baby

  1. The absolute hellish chaos and confusion experienced during WWII bombing attacks is vividly captured in The Stolen Baby by Diney Costeloe, (published by Head of Zeus). The imagery is so rich, you can almost smell the smoke and rubble in the air, see the fires and devastation, and hear the anguished cries of the bewildered wounded and grieving…

    Wars rip families apart, and in this story, the author Diney Costeloe really captures the heartbreaking and long reaching effect it has on people’s lives. Add to this the trauma of losing a baby and you can appreciate that this is an engrossing but truly tragic tale!

    Written with an easy flowing style and with well rounded characters who each in their own way tug at your emotions, this is a very readable account of a truly nightmarish time. The fact that it is apparently based on a true story, makes it even more poignant.

    I thoroughly recommend The Stolen Baby. It is a great wartime story and really does seem to capture the desperation of those times when so many people’s lives must have been completely turned upside down.

  2. The Stolen Baby by Diney Costeloe, although fictional is based on a true story. Set in Plymouth in 1941 during World War Two and at the height of the bombing raids.
    In the confusion of rushing to the public air raid shelter, 9 month old Freddie Shawbrook is accidentally left in his cot.

    11 year old Ernie, kept awake by the distant crashes and bells of fire engines, sneaks out of the house to go exploring. He witnesses police Sargent Colin Peterson rescuing a crying baby from a bombed house.

    With the Children’s homes and rescue centres overcrowded,Colin decides to take the baby home to his wife Maggie to care for overnight. He will report it in the morning.
    He realises he has made a mistake when Maggie starts calling the baby Colin. 9 months earlier, tragically, their own baby Colin had only lived a few hours.

    After a night of heavy bombing, David Shawbrook , an air raid warden, returns home to find half his house and his family missing.
    The only family he knows are safe are Mu who is nursing in Portsmouth and a son serving overseas.

    This is a story of the Shawbrook family who are desperate to find Freddie.
    Also a story of a troubled and grieving mother with some one else’s child who is desperate not to be found.

    There is a lovely war time romance for Mu.

    With a fabulous cover and title, Stolen Baby, definitely pulls at heart strings. An excellent read, full of suspense.

    Thankyou to Head of Zeus and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this wonderful book.

  3. I am a huge fan of WW2 books and this one didn’t disappoint although it was very different, with a storyline that wasn’t solely focused on the war but on a child who was ‘stolen’. The book was easy to read and I found it difficult to put down as I needed to know what happened.

    The book is based off a true story but not sure to what extent. The only bit I didn’t love was there were so many ‘convenient coincidences’ that lead the story to its ending.

    But overall it was a well written novel, and I will continue to look for Diney’s book to read.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to review this book.

  4. The Stolen Baby by Diney Costeloe is a book of Ficton based on Historical Fact.
    Well written and descriptive, you can imagine the bombs falling, the dust choked air and the thick smoke during the bombings.
    The characters are believable and the situations that arise are totally believable.
    There is tragedy, heartbreak, romance and hope all wound together and you will be engrossed in this story until the last pages.
    I highly recommend The Stolen Baby to lovers of Historical Fiction and other Genre Lovers will definitely enjoy this book.
    Thank You to Head of Zeus and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.

  5. Thank-you Beauty & Lace for giving me the chance to read & review ‘The Stolen Baby’ an e-book by Diney Costeloe.
    It’s the time of the Blitz sirens are going; people are panicking to get to safety and a baby is left in his cot to be found the next day perfectly safe with no signs of his family anywhere. A kindly police officer takes him home to a wife who is suffering from postpartum depression after loosing her own premature baby only months earlier. This was meant to be a short-term solution until the family could be found but the actions of the war cause further drama.
    The baby’s family begin the search for him once they realize that he did survive but only a few breadcrumbs to what occurred can be found. The characters were well written, I felt sympathy for Maggie as she wasn’t trying to be harmful but in her depressed state all her actions seemed to her quite logical, I also felt for the Shawbrookes trying to find their beloved Freddie.
    I really enjoyed the book and found it hard to walk away from as I wanted to know what would happen. Thank-you ‘Beauty & Lace Bookclub’ for the opportunity to read ‘The Stolen Baby’ an e-book by Diney Costeloe.

  6. Thank-you Beauty & Lace for giving me the chance to read ‘The Stolen Baby’ by Diney Costeloe. I have to open by saying I really loved this book.

    The Stolen Baby is set in World War 2, with the UK in the grip of the Battle for Britain bombing raids where the Luftwaffe bombed major cities to weaken the British defences. The bombing was relentless and extensive with many cities flattened and people killed. The fear and stress of the people of the UK and the terror of the bombing is so beautifully – and scarily – covered from page one of the book.

    Through the terror and rush a baby disappears, and the book covers the baby’s whereabouts and family’s desperate attempts to find him and bring him home.

    The bombings and the war are in the background – it really is about the people and how they cope. The beautifully realised and written characters in The Stolen Baby really bought the story alive for me. The story unfolds in a well paced and interesting way and engaged me from the very beginning to the very end!

    I cant recommend this book highly enough. I haven’t read any of Diney Costeloe’s other books but I will be after this!

    Five stars! Thanks again for the opportunity to read this book.

  7. The Stolen Baby is a wonderful book.
    War is raging and Plymouth is being bombarded by the germans the sirens sound nightly and residents have to go to the bomb shelters,
    The Shawbrook family rush to the shelter one night, Vera ( daughter ) was having an after work drink with a friend when the siren sounds she arrives late only to discover that there was a mix up and she has forgotten baby Freddie, the bombs this particular night are really bad
    ( no more spoilers not going to spoil this book for other readers )
    This is a wonderful book to read and really bought home the horrors of war and how lives change and people cope

  8. I was so excited to read another one of Diney Costeloe’s books. Her style of writing is easy to read and engaging, and her descriptions the terror for people living through war and bombings were very realistic.
    It is definitely a page turner, but I thought the renting of the apartment was a little too much of a coincidence, and the finding of the suitcase a little too obvious.
    I also didn’t love the way it ended.
    I’m saying all that, I still would recommend this book, and I definitely would recommend some of her other books which I absolutely loved.

  9. I’m not sure what to think about this book, The Stolen Baby. It’s the type of story that I usually love, but this was a hard slog for me to read for some reason. There seemed to be a lot of ‘filler’ pages and then the ending was like ‘Oh, I’ve nearly reached my word limit, so I’d better finish quickly’. I liked some of the characters, but others seemed to have no real connection to the story. I will still see if Diney Costeloe has written any other books and give them a go though. Thank you Beauty and Lace for letting me review this book >:o)

  10. Thank-you Beauty & Lace for giving me the chance to read & review ‘The Stolen Baby’ an e-book by Diney Costeloe.
    The story at times had me almost in tears, as images were brought to life in words on the pages, of the bombings and devastation, brought about by war. Lives lost, total communities wiped out, yet 1 baby would change the lives even more, of a family, and the woman who has him.
    The story tugs at the hear strings in so many ways, as one woman battes to keep a child which isn’t hers, and the family battle against so many odds, to find him.
    For me, the story was way too long, and the ending very rushed, but overall, well written, and realistic.
    If you are a lover of true events, and stories depiting war and those who live through it, you will enjoy this book.

  11. The Stolen Baby, in World War 11 set in Plymouth. Bombs raging and people rushing for cover to stay safe.
    Through a lot of war torn stress, trying to maintain life and the constant bombing a baby is forgotten. He is found still safe in his cot the next day but not by his family.
    The baby is taken to the home of a family where the wife has taken to him. This was to be a short term solution until his family were found. The search!!! The love!! A heartbreaking story!
    So many have written which I don’t want to repeat. It’s a truly lovely story.

  12. I enjoy this genre of books and this one didn’t disappoint.
    I really got into the story of these poor people losing all their family and then realising that little Freddie was missing. I can understand where the woman who took him was coming from at the start but then she became very intense. It was good to arrive at the best ending.

  13. The Stolen baby by Diney Costeloe is a historical, emotional, captivating novel based on a World War II true story.

    Plymouth 1941, sirens blare through the night and bombs begin falling through the sky. With a rush of fear the Shawbrook family take refuge in a shelter. As young mother Vera checks on her family in the overcrowded room she discovers her infant son Freddie is not with them, realising he had been left in his crib she rushes back to the family home to save him.

    David Shawbrook, an air raid warden has worked tirelessly through the night helping civilians seek safety. The next morning, he returns to his home to find it had been hit by the bombs, as he entered all that he could see were footprints through the house, he goes to the shelter to search for Vera and his children only to find it had been destroyed. Were they lucky enough to get out alive and find somewhere else to hide? The thought of them gone is insufferable.

    During the raid Colin Peterson a police sergeant hears cries coming from a house, to his amazement he finds a baby in a crib. He and his wife, Maggie have recently lost their newborn son, thinking it had been abandoned and not wanting to take it to an orphanage he takes the baby home to his grief-stricken wife, little did he know Maggie would accept the child as her baby Roger, the lies and deception begin.

    As David continues his search for his family, he contacts his daughter Mew who works at a hospital in another town. She searches the hospital and finds Vera who explains she was knocked unconscious during the raid. With hope Freddie is still alive David and Vera start the painstaking search for him.
    The characters are interesting and held my attention to the end. I loved Vera’s character, she is a strong woman, surviving against all odds, overcoming loss, and keeping hope alive. Maggie was hard to like but I also understood the loss of her child, Freddie was an attempt to compensate for emotional deprivation.

    With such a heart wrenching novel, you hope the author delivers, and that Costeloe does. The Stolen Baby is a work of historical fiction based on real life events; the realism is accurately depicted. Descriptive narrative and dialogue are well constructed in a compelling plot that leads the reader right into the story and keeps them enraptured to the very end.

    This is an engaging story and one that captivated me as a reader. It is the perfect length for a novel of this magnitude, I can honestly say it was one of my most enjoyable reads this year.

    I highly recommend The Stolen Baby to fans of historical novels who are looking for fictional tales based on true accounts, it covers so much more than just the intrigue and horrors of war. Truly, a fantastic read.

    Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Head of Zeus for the opportunity to read and review.

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