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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Disguised Blessings: A Wife's Story of Her Wall Street Husband Turned Bank Robber by Jeanne Callahan Trantel is the non-fiction autobiography of a woman whose marriage was built on a foundation of lies. From the outside looking in, there is very little that would lead someone to believe that the entire financial structure of the Trantel family was all a facade. Trantel's ex-husband, Stephen Trantel, had been a powerful player in commodity trading. Following a downturn in the market after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Stephen lost his job. Instead of telling his wife what had happened, he instead made the choice to keep it a secret from everyone. It was the first of many secrets, and Jeanne was left completely oblivious to the financial ruin closing in as she dutifully remained the heart of the family home to Stephen and their sons. Stephen, on the other hand, was trying his luck at a new form of cash returns—he became a bank robber.
Disguised Blessings is one of those books where you're teetering on the edge of disbelief, trying to convince yourself it's true. Some stories are so good that you can't make them up, and this is a difficult thing to overcome, particularly when it is someone's life told through a book in your hands. I genuinely loved the honesty of Jeanne Callahan Trantel's words. I was also impressed by some of the tough choices she needed to make leading up to her then-estranged husband's prison sentence. There's a lot to be said for a person who works hard to avoid parental alienation, and for one that lets a man that lied, cheated, and stole stay in the home with a family he single-handedly destroyed. She continues to be transparent in managing expectations and expressing her feelings, a courtesy that had not been previously reciprocated. Jeanne is a woman with real strength and this is a fascinating story. The book is tightly written and ranks a few pegs above other memoirs in both style and substance. Highly recommended.