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Susan Lewis is an author that is well known for writing compelling dramas about real issues. In 'Stolen', she tells the story of what happens when a child vanishes and no one knows what has happened. Years later, she explores the lives of those affected and how, by a few twists of fate, their lives come together and the truth of what happened over thirty years before is uncovered.
The story of 'Stolen' starts over thirty years ago with a harassed young mother and her three small children travelling on the tube. The children are messing about and it's no wonder that, when it is time for them all to get off, things become difficult. This results in the eldest child, Alexandra, being left in the carriage while the mother frantically attempts to stop the train. A kindly looking man gestures that he will get off with the little girl at the next stop and will wait for the mother. That is how it is left so the reader cannot be sure exactly what has happened although I definitely had my suspicions.
The story moves forward more than thirty years and the reader is introduced to a whole host of characters who have all somehow ended up in the small Cotswold village of Cromstone Edge. Lucy is running her parent's auction house; Sarah is escaping from a recent personal tragedy and John and Pippa have retired and are looking forward to a quiet life. Along with their families, they get to know each other and settle into their new lives. However, because of what the reader has been told at the start of the book, it is obvious that at least some of their stories are linked to what happened all those years before. It makes for perfect reading as one tries to fathom it all out and particularly what might have happened in the intervening years. Although it is possible to partly predict what had probably happened, there are also some surprises in store too. It is like fitting together all the pieces in a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle - some parts are easier than others but by the end the complete picture is clear.
I absolutely loved 'Stolen' and I was hooked from the very first page. In fact my housework suffered and my daughters had to wait for their tea because I couldn't bring myself to put it down. Susan Lewis has crafted an array of absorbing story-lines involving some wonderful characters that I grew to know and care about. It was very easy to empathise with all their varying emotions - confusion, joy, grief, frustration, conflict - as the lives that they had always known started to unravel before them. The story does take you on an emotional roller-coaster too, and there were many occasions when the pages were blurred because of my tears. However, there are lots of lighter moments too and I found the backdrop of the auction world quite fascinating.
Overall, 'Stolen' is a fabulous book that kept me wanting to read more. It is dramatic, tense and poignant and altogether a very satisfying read.
Stolen is available on amazon in paperback for only £3.50 (December 2011) which is a great bargain as it has over 600 pages and is such a great read.
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk