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 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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