Sunday, October 8, 2017

Review: The Stolen Marriage

The Stolen Marriage
by Diane Chamberlain

Why did you choose this book? I’ve enjoyed novels by this author
When did you read this book? September 2017
Who should read this book? Diane Chamberlain fans  
Source: NetGalley
My Rating:  ✰✰✰✰½     4½ Stars

Here is a synopsis of The Stolen Marriage from Goodreads

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?

My Review

I read Necessary Lies a few years ago with my book club, so when I saw I could pick up an ARC through Netgalley, I grabbed it. I’m glad I did! I have to say though, after reading the beginning of the story, I thought I was going to regret it. Tess and her fiancee seemed so perfect for each other, and Tess was making some very back choices at the beginning of the story! However, it wasn’t long before I was immersed in the story and I flew through it!

I really liked all of the characters in the story. Some had flaws and could be petty, but even then, they were likeable characters. Though at the beginning Henry appeared to be the ‘bad guy’ who ruined Tess’s life, he was actually a very kind and thoughtful man caught up in some bad circumstances.

Though the main characters are fictional, the events in the story are based on fact. Tess is a nurse and volunteers in a polio hospital that sprang up on the outskirts of town in a matter of weeks. The panic of the parents with affected children and children at-risk was real. The way the community came together to make the hospital a reality was real. And the racism and prejudice was also real. You can read more about this events that inspired this novel here and here.

Like many of Diane Chamberlain’s books, this one will make an excellent book club selection with a variety of potential topics for discussion; racism of the 1940s, out of wedlock pregnancy in the 1940s, date rape, the polio epidemic and the history of immunization, and many others.

You can visit the author’s webpage to read an excerpt, see a reading guide, or browse a bibliography of materials she consulted while writing this book. You can view the Tedx Talks episode she recommends here.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book for review purposes.
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  1. I've not read anything by Diane Chamberlain yet and I think I got this book in the mail without specifically requesting it, so I'm glad to hear it was good! I'm considering it for my Dewey's read-a-thon pile, because it seems like it could be a fast, fun read :)


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