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The Stolen Child Bets On...

The Stolen Child

May 2024

Ann Hood has been interested in World War I for a while. She has traveled to battlefields and read extensively on the subject. So her writing a novel, THE STOLEN CHILD, set partially in this time period makes a lot of sense. She knows her way around the facts to create a beautiful story up against them.

Nick Burns was a soldier in the war, and he has been haunted by something for decades. As enemy forces headed into town, a young woman thrust her baby and two of her paintings into this young American’s hands, imploring him to take care of her son. And then she was gone.

Nick was unable to keep the boy and left him in what he thought would be a safe place. But the child and these paintings, which he still has, have been on his mind for the longest time. What happened to the baby, and what happened to the painter?

Now it is the 1970s, and Nick is in his twilight years. He clearly is in poor health and puts out an ad for someone to accompany him to Europe to figure out these mysteries.

Enter Jenny, who is spunky and more than up for the task after leaving college sooner than she had planned. She is ready to take on Europe. And off they go.

Nick reminds me of Nicky Pearson, played by Griffin Dunne, from “This Is Us.” He is gruff, curmudgeonly and clearly should not be traveling far from home. Jenny is just who he needs as a caretaker, and he finds himself inhaling life again through her eyes.

Along their journey, questions are answered, amazing meals are enjoyed and sites are seen. Both Nick and Jenny learn a lot about themselves. And Nick finds peace, while Jenny finds joy. Jenny also discovers that she is a better person than she originally thought. I loved the moment she realized this.

This is a quiet but oh-so-special book, and you will find yourself wanting to plan a trip, look at some beautiful art or just make a meal that you will care about.

For more on Ann's inspiration for THE STOLEN CHILD, watch or listen to my interview with her.

The Stolen Child
by Ann Hood