Title: The Stolen Marriage
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Recently, I was looking for another good, quick read for the summer. One of the Orange County Library book clubs had just discussed The Stolen Marriage, so I am taking the opportunity to share it with you. Diane Chamberlain is a New York Times bestselling author of several books, and this one scored 4.23 out of 5 on Goodreads. It was published in 2017, so it should be easy to find a copy.
The Stolen Marriage is the story of Tess DeMello, a young woman from a close, Italian neighborhood in Baltimore, Md. In 1944, she is about to get her nursing license. Engaged to Vincent, a newly minted M.D., they plan a married life working in medicine together. In the midst of the rationing that occurred during World War II, as they plan for a wedding, Vincent is called away to work at a children’s hospital in Chicago to help with the infantile paralysis epidemic that affected so much of the country at that time.
At a girls’ weekend with her best friend in Washington, D.C., some unexpected consequences change the trajectory of Tess’ life. Several months later, Tess finds herself in Hickory, N.C., married to a wealthy furniture factory owner. She is a social and cultural fish-out-of-water in her new surroundings and in the home of her new family. As Tess tries to fit in, minor and major tragedies affect her, her new family, and her new community. It takes Tess some time to find her feet in her new life. In the meantime, revelations about her new extended family continue to unfold, helping her to strengthen her resolve to return to her old life in Baltimore.
The history of the time, both surrounding rationing in the U.S. during World War II and the national infantile paralysis epidemic, have a major effect on the plot, so we get some interesting and little-known cultural facts along with the story. Southern racial segregation and prejudices in the 1940s also play an interesting part as the drama unfolds.
This story has its twists, turns and mysteries. Chamberlain’s main characters are well written –
we can see more than one side of each of their personalities, and they change a bit over time. In particular, as Tess’ character matures, she begins to follow her own maturing moral compass and starts to respond and react to events and other characters in a positive way. The plot is a good one, and I really was not expecting the turn of events at the end; in fact, I stayed up late to finish the novel. For book groups, there is a lot to discuss here, and as a novel for pleasure reading, it also fits the bill.
Diane Chamberlain has written several novels, all listed on Goodreads with at least four stars. So, if you like this one, there are others to select as well.