This book by Laura Elliot wasn’t as I expected it to be. Given the title, I expected a detective hunt for a missing child, kidnap and perhaps murder. Instead it is a character study of two women encompassing grief, guilt, blame, anger, loss and redemption. Susanna loses her own baby before term and steals one to replace it. Carla, a model who lives her life on the fashion pages, gives birth but days later her baby disappears from the hospital without trace. This is a page-turner but is so much more than that. It is a character study of two women at the extreme of horror and grief, not just in the immediate aftermath of the theft, but years later. Both experience loss, grief, guilt and dashed hopes.
Susanne steals baby Isobel and calls her Joy. Devastated mum Carla is dealing with an avid media which cannot believe its luck at the juicy headlines. Both women struggle to live day-to-day. Relationships crack, friendships shake. Susanne is over-protective of Joy. Carla refuses to let go, even after her husband leaves the country to ‘move on’. She changes her name, cuts her hair short and dyes it black. The years pass. But rural Ireland is a small place. The network of who-knows-who overlaps the lives of both women, now and in the past. Why did Susanne choose Carla’s baby to steal? Part of my motivation to turn the page was the curiosity about who would spot the strong physical likeness between Joy and Carla. As Joy/Isobel grows, her voice joins the story too: teenage angst, boyfriend trouble, rebellion and confusion.
Susanne and Carla are connected by an umbilical cord. I waited for the moment that the cord would be yanked, and the two pulled together. This book is an examination of what makes a family: blood, proximity, do they have to start with a birth or are they more loosely assembled?For details about Laura Elliot’s other novels, click here for her website.
To read an excerpt of Stolen Child, click here.
‘Stolen Child’ by Laura Elliot [UK: Avon] Buy now