I received this book for free from Publisher for review consideration, opinions expressed are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: Oct. 3, 2017
Setting: North America > USA > North Carolina
5* – I Loved it! The Stolen Marriage is classic Diane Chamberlain, a historical fiction set in 1940’s North Carolina during the Miracle in Hickory, she explores segregation and racial and gender discrimination in the South with characters you love, characters you despise and good people in impossible situations. An unputdownable historical fiction, great to the last page!
In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.
The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.
When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?
I’m a huge fan of Diane Chamberlain’s books and her latest is no exception. The Stolen Marriage is a historical fiction set in the 1940s, mostly in North Carolina. Women were still seen as housewives and segregation and racial discrimination was still the ugly reality of life in the South.
20-something Italian American Tess is a nursing student and lives in Baltimore with her mother and is engaged to Vincent, the boy next door she’s been in love with since they were kids. Life is good until Vincent, a doctor, travels to,fight the polio epidemic in Chicago.
He’s gone for extended periods of time and Teas decides to go with her friend to Washington D.C. where one night changes her life forever.
What comes next is a life that is not her own, one where she feels she has no choices. She’s trapped in her situation and although her husband is a good man, there is more to him that she just can’t understand. The pieces of the puzzle just don’t fit.
In classic Diane Chamberlain style, she kept me guessing. With characters I loved, characters I despised and those i just couldn’t figure out. They were in predicaments with no real good solutions. I felt for each of them, good people in impossible situations.
I loved that this book was based on an actual historical event called the “Miracle of Hickory’ which I didn’t know until the book signing, when the town came together in an incredible feat to construct from the ground up a hospital dedicated to treating polio patients in 54ish hours!! The story of the community coming together was incredible and one I will be looking into further.
The Stolen Marriage was great, it dropped me in the middle of life in the 1940s in the South, not pretty, but real. It made me aware of the history of my home state , and the fight people went through and continue to go through for equality, the right to work and the right to choose who we love.
Books Like This You Might Enjoy:
Breaking the Silence* by Diane Chamberlain – 5* , a haunting look at a family’s secret and the state of mental illness in the 1950’s
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton Book Club discussion questions – 5* one of my favorite historical fiction novels of all time