The Stolen Marriage
St. Martin's Press
October 3, 2017
Hardcover and Advanced Reader Copy
Free from publisher
"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?"--
When a new Diane Chamberlain book comes along, you can count on me to be reading it. Not only is Diane a local author, but her books are always superbly crafted, and frequently about a subject that I knew nothing about prior to reading. This one involves a polio hospital that was built in Hickory NC, to treat the many victims of the polio epidemic of 1944. Tess, a registered nurse, goes to work at the hospital, but before the story progresses to this point we learn about her loveless marriage to Henry, and the man she left behind in Baltimore. There are many questions revolving around Henry, his families open resentment of Tess, and the household's second generation maid and her family. We also have an accident, a secret stash of money, and a woman trying to make sense of it all, while desperately working toward making the best of her situation among this strange cast of characters. The writing is sharp, the various plots are all engaging and interesting, and there are a few twists thrown in by Chamberlain to keep you on your toes as a reader. The ending was a bit too tidy for me, but that is on me, and takes nothing away from this great read. I would also be remiss if I didn't comment on the absolutely gorgeous cover of this book. All of the raindrops that you see are raised up and shiny! If you are a cover lover like I am, this is a collector's item 🙂
Another fantastic novel by Diane Chamberlain. If you are already a fan, you will not be disappointed by this one. If you haven't read any of her work, please rectify that immediately!