St. Martin's Press | October 2017 | 384 pgs
Source: Library

This story is set in the 1940s between Hickory, North Carolina and Baltimore, Maryland where the people are affected by the WWII and many of their young men were sent to fight the war. With their life restraint with food and gas rations, they all try their very best to get by while hoping that the war would end quickly with victory. This is the backdrop of the story and at its heart of it is twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello and her journey as one mistake has altered her life forever. 

Tess is living with her mother in a little Italian neighbourhood in Baltimore. The DeMellos and the Russo family have known each other for years and Tess is engaged with Vincent Russo and they are planning for their wedding once Vincent has his own pediatric practice and Tess has graduated from nursing school. Both of them have been hanging on to these dreams until Vincent is sent to Chicago to help with the infantile paralysis epidemic there. A couple of weeks he has promised has turned to months, and while Tess has been understanding all this while she couldn't help feeling a little insecure given this difficult time with minimal communication. When her best friend suggested a short trip to Washington as a break, she decided to give it a go after much thought but an evening of drinks has turned her life upside down. 

Pregnant and filled with guilt, Tess decided to end her engagement with Vincent. She fled to Hickory, North Carolina without telling anyone except her best friend and her mother, hoping that the baby's father would offer her some financial assistance. To her surprise, Henry Kraft offered her marriage and she agreed, after all what does she has to lose? But living in the small, rural town in Hickory isn't easy. Many of the Hickory residents treat Tess like an outsider despite they all admire and respect Henry. The Krafts own a family furniture factory and while Tess doesn't have to worry about her life financially, she feels unhappy and trapped in the marriage with Henry treating her like a stranger. Most of all, he is secretive and often stays out all night. Tess also finds some stacks of money hidden in their bedroom by chance and begins to question herself about the man she married. Henry seems like an honorable man but is it simply an act? And most of all, what is he hiding away from her? 

The Stolen Marriage isn't a psychological suspense or a crime thriller although there is an element of mystery interwoven in the story. The author has done a great job in her research and setting up the story and issues like interracial marriage, out of wedlock pregnancy as well as the polio epidemic are some of the difficulties faced during that time period and I could imagine what it was like living in the 1940s. The characters are well developed and fleshed out and I couldn't help but feeling emotionally invested while reading about Tess's journey. The ending surprised me but it was a good closure, though. All in all it was an addictive read and I'll be sure to check out the other books by this author.  

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8 Responses
  1. Lark Says:

    I read the Silent Sister by Chamberlin and didn't love it; but this one sounds like a better read. (And I do like the time period it's set in.)

  2. Jenny Says:

    I like that the ending surprised you. I feel like I could guess how it all ends but you’ve given me reason to question my assumptions. I should check it out.

  3. Iliana Says:

    This sounds like a good historical read. I have a couple of books by this author and just haven't gotten around to them.

  4. jenclair Says:

    An addictive read sounds good--and I like the setting.

  5. Melody Says:

    Lark - This is my first Chamberlain book and I'm glad to read it. I'll definitely have to check out her other books.

  6. Melody Says:

    Jenny - I'd an assumption but it wasn't what I'd expected. I hope you'll enjoy it when you get to it.

  7. Melody Says:

    Iliana - It was a good read, Iliana. I hope you'll enjoy it like I did when you get to it.

  8. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - Yes, the setting and the time period are what attracted me to this book and I'm glad the story was good, too.

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