Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: 3rd October 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
|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.
What can I say! Diane Chamberlain has again written another very engaging story with The Stolen Marriage. I was soon transported off into story land and really enjoyed the read.
Tess is a beautifully compassionate heroine who finds her self in a spot of bother. We are talking back in the 1940’s when to become pregnant outside marriage was something to be hidden. When she tells the man who was responsible alongside herself he does the decent thing and offers marriage to which she agrees. And leaves behind the love of her life, Vincent.
Does she really know her husband Henry (Hank)? Lucy his sister would say no. And she doesn’t. But as time goes by she learns more and finally learns the truth. I saw part of it coming, but oh no, I did not see the totality of it, so the final reveals were full of thrills.
The polio epidemic was fascinating as I am old enough (sigh) to remember those fearful times, and can remember being made to rest as a young child after lunch to stay in good health. Then of course came the wonderful medicine we swallowed and were given immunity. I can also remember devouring the book Over My Dead Body by June Opie as a young teen, so this aspect of the story really engaged me.
The minor characters added to the flavour of the book, the township of Hickory in North Carolina, the issues of racism, and the part of Reverend Sam all added the the mix to make this book such a wonderful story. I liked the growth of Tess and applauded every stand she took to choose her own life. I liked Vincent and his approach and yes really liked Henry too.
Diane Chamberlain has again spun an engaging tale that had me springing up off my chair and shouting “Yes”! at one point.