Tag Archives: child abduction

#BookReview ‘Pretty Baby’ by @MaryKubica #mystery #suspense

Don’t be fooled by the cover photograph, this is not a thriller about trains. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica is a psychological tale of parenting, grief, abuse, and husbands and wives who stop communicating and stop interacting. At times I had to take a gulp and accept some situations which seemed unrealistic to me, it was either that or put the book down. Mary KubicaHeidi and Chris live with their daughter Zoe in Chicago. One freezing wintery day, running for a train, Heidi spots a homeless girl with a baby. She hesitates, wondering whether to say something, and then the girl is gone. Wishing she had helped, Heidi looks out for the girl the next day… and takes her home. Zoe sees it as an invasion of her space, Chris worries about who the girl – Willow, with baby Ruby – really is, and whether she poses a threat to his family and property. Both are right to be worried.
At times I grew impatient with Heidi for indulging herself and impatient for Chris to show some intuition and see what was really going on. Unfortunately Chris is a bit of a stereotype, the hard-working banker husband who spends more time at work than home, fending off the glamorous co-worker. Zoe’s thoughts we do not hear. For me, Willow is the most interesting character and I would have liked to read more about her relationship with Matthew. Concentrating more on Willow’s story, rather than Heidi’s would make this a completely different book.
Unfairly, I think, the publisher compares Pretty Baby to Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins [in other words, to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, giants of their genre]. But they are page-turners whereas the pace of this story is slower, allowing the various threads to unfold. What kept me turning the page? What is Willow hiding? When will Chris or Zoe speak out? How far will Heidi go to help a stranger and why is she risking everything?

Read my reviews of two other novels by Mary Kubica:-

If you like this, try novels:-
The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins
Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn
‘Stolen Child’ by Laura Elliot

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
PRETTY BABY by @MaryKubica #bookreview via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1T5

Book review: Stolen Child

stolen child by laura elliot 22-9-14This book 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?

[photo: lauraelliotauthor.com]

[photo: lauraelliotauthor.com]

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]