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Stealing Jenny Paperback – September 15, 2011
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About the Author
Ellen Gable is a freelance writer and novelist who lives with her husband and their five children in Pakenham, Ontario Canada. This is her third novel. Her first two novels have been awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval and her second novel, In Name Only, won the Gold Medal in the 2010 IPPY Awards. She is currently working on her fourth novel.
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Top customer reviews
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The setup is quick and painless, and the characters are established in short order. Jenny Callahan has an interesting life. She has five children, with one due in a week. She and her husband have no money problems, only the issues that come with five children. They're in a nice, loving relationship, where they're biggest problem is her mother-in-law.
Then Jenny gets kidnapped by a total psycho who wants her child for herself, and we're off to the races.
Stealing Jenny is actually not a bad thriller. It's tightly written, nice and tense, complete with character studies, personal histories, and one of the better bad guys I've seen in a while. There isn't a single car chase or fight scene, but the story doesn't suffer, even though it decidedly lacks the action usually stuff into the standard thriller.
I like this one for several reasons. One, it has a nice, well-developed family, with its own quirks, personality traits, and history. We see a neat character arc in Jenny's relationship with her high school love, the development as the antagonist and how she got that way, and even the detective has her own distinctive voice. The villain also has her own character arc of evil.
Now, one of the things you have to understand is that in my household, my father always had a soft spot for David Mahmet. We would never keep one of his films, but we always appreciated them. And my father always loved House of Games because the con man in question -- played elegantly by Joe Mantegna -- was an unrepentant bastard right up to the end. It's not something we see much anymore.
One of the nice things about this book is the primary antagonist, Denise. As noted, Denise has kidnapped Jenny for the sole purpose of stealing her unborn child. Unable to conceive, instead of adopting, Denise figures, quite simply, that Jenny has more than her fair share of children, and that Denise *deserves* the one Jenny is carrying.
Now, is Denise insane? Maybe. Is she creepy as Hell? Yup. She is also stone cold evil. Nothing matters but herself. When kidnapping Jenny, she tied Jenny's toddler to a sign post with a dog collar and leash, and I was half expecting her to kill him if she heard him crying for a few more seconds. She's not overly violent, there are no schemes to take over the world, though diabolical is a mild way to describe this creature from the black lagoon. Total nut job? Maybe. Evil? Hell yes. I've seen vampires that were less of a blood-sucking monster than Denise.
And even though the author, Ellen Gable, is one of the key members of the Catholic Writers Guild, there is no touchy-feely ending at the end of the book. Is there a moral to the story? I guess you can read one into it -- most of the reviews online refer to it as a "pro-life" novel, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. It's not preachy or pushy, or particularly loud in its beliefs. The family is Catholic, but they're not saints, and when faced with an implacable evil, they must all come together or fail miserably. Is there forgiveness and redemption? After a fashion.
At the end of the day, this was a solid thriller, up there with anything written by Jeffery Deaver or Lee Child.
Denise contrives a plan to steal a baby and pass it off as her own. Her plan will probably necessitate the killing of the mother of the baby. She obtains the necessary false identity documentation that she will need when she disappears as Denise and emerges as a new mother in a new location. She tells everyone that she is pregnant through in vitro, and even manages to look the part.
Denise discovers Jenny who is a young pregnant woman who takes her pet to the vet clinic where Denise works. Denise knows that Jenny is already the mother of 5 children. How unfair is that? Jenny daily walks her daughters to and from the school bus stop that just happens to be located across the street from Denise's house. Denise stalks Jenny and puts her plan, to take Jenny's baby, into action. The story is very graphic in places, and the reader may feel sadness, indignation, horror and perhaps other emotions as each character goes through their emotional turmoil.
The fictional tale takes the reader on the emotional journey through Jenny's kidnapping and the torturous times that she and her family endure through Denise's madness. There are flashbacks that lets the reader know something about the previous lives of the family including the courtship of Jenny and her husband. This is a work of fiction; however, in the late 1980s a real life crime took place in Albuquerque, NM that had similarities to this book. In that case there was not a happy ending. The baby; however, did survive. This was a good book.....not a great book.
This was a short book about a mother of (almost) six who is kidnapped for her unborn baby. A deranged woman is described as being the reason behind all this. The point of view is taken from many angles, which adds emotion to this book and understanding.
Several things I liked about this: The kidnapper was allowed to curse, even though this was noted as a "Christian" book (actually Catholic). Let's be realistic. In real life, we'd here a person like this curse, so why not put it in the book as long as the author doesn't go overboard with it? Second thing I loved was all the flashback episodes of how the couple met and came to be married. Another good thing: Sex was mentioned in a positive light. The married couple talked about wanting to make love and in some of the flashback scenes, there was mention of intimacy between the couple.
Some have bashed this because of the essence put on premarital sex being a sin. Well, tough! It is a sin according to the Bible, and I believe that's the center of this story. Some people thought the writing was elementary. In 150 page book, I don't expect much and really do prefer the simpleness of stories. I don't need a lot of colorful words and descriptions. My imagination can take care of itself.
This was a good story!