Steeped in history and filled with heart-wrenching twists, The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice, and forgiveness. It showcases Diane Chamberlain at the top of her talent.
One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever.
It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.
The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not.
As anyone who follows my blog will know I mostly read crime and psychological thrillers but every once in a while I like to move away from the “dark side” and pick up a book that’s very different to my usual read. I’m a huge fan of Diane Chamberlain and have been for a number of years I love her style of writing and I always find I quickly get immersed her books once I start reading them.
The Stolen Marriage is a very compelling historical novel with an element of mystery thrown in, set in the 1940’s in Hickory, North Carolina, like many towns of that era the author depicts a authentic picture of a small town steeped in racial prejudice, a polio epidemic and the hardships faced by people during World War Two. One moment of madness leads to Tess finding herself trapped in a loveless marriage to Henry, as she tries to adjust to married life she realises there’s a lot more to her new husband than meets the eye. When a polio epidemic strikes the town Tess, who has a nursing degree, ignores Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Tess begins her story in crisis and self doubt but as The Stolen Marriage progresses she grows stronger through adversity.
The Stolen Marriage is an eye opener and thank goodness the 1940’s are well and truly behind us. Everything was so different then, interracial Marriage was prohibited and punishable by up to ten years in prison, and a woman working, unthinkable! these views sound unbelievable but unfortunately they were alive and kicking in the 1940’s, for me this novel gave an authentic insight into an age where things were so different. Diane Chamberlain has created a host of characters some more likeable than others, Henry Kraft was a character that I found hard to like, but I was surprised by the last third of the book I actually ended up feeling a great deal of empathy for him.
Diane Chamberlain has once again written a fascinating novel and one I’m sure her legions of fans will love. If I had one small criticism I thought the first half of the book was very slow, but in saying that the author uses this time to develop her characters. The one thing I really enjoyed about this book was the author’s attention to detail I really felt the town of Hickory came alive, it almost felt like I was stepping back in time to a town steeped in prejudice, snobbery and old fashioned views. It’s also obvious the author has spent a lot of time researching polio, and has written a very credible story. All in all I found this novel to be an throughly enjoyable read.The Stolen Marriage is a book that I would definitely recommend to those who enjoy a historical novel with some mystery thrown in.
Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Macmillan; Main Market Ed. edition (5 Oct. 2017)