Book Review: ‘The Stolen Marriage’ Shows How One Mistake Can Change A Lot Of Lives

Diane Chamberlain is back with her next exciting novel The Stolen Marriage (St. Martin’s Press; in stores Tuesday, October 3) about live in 1944 when the war is going on and Polo is breaking out across the country. The story is based on Hickory, North Carolina, where they built and staffed a polio hospital in 54 hours.

Tess DeMello live in Baltimore and is 23 years old and about to graduate nursing school. She lives with her Italian mother and has close family and friends in the neighborhood she lives in. She’s engaged to Vincent, who has just graduated from medical school (they grew up together). Their planning the wedding and everything seems to be going forward. Then polo breaks out and Vincent goes to Chicago to help out with the outbreak. Only suppose to be gone for a few weeks turns into months. Tess is worried that he might have met someone else.

Taking a weekend away in Washington with her friend Gina and staying at her aunt’s boarding house. They meet two men that are staying there and go out for dinner with them. They drink quite a bit and return to the house. Well one thing leads to another and Tess and one of the guys Henry Kraft end up in bed together and have sex (the first time for Tess as she was waiting for marriage). They were both really drunk. She regrets it right away and feels guilty. How will she face Vincent and marry him.

She thinks she can put it out her mind until she finds out she’s pregnant. She tries to get rid of it (and in those days everything was done illegally) but couldn’t do it. She tracks down Henry in Hickory hoping to get money and move away and start a new life. He shocks her and asks her to marry him and move there. Feeling she has nothing else she can do Tess agrees.

Her mother figures out she is with child and disowns her. She leaves a letter and her ring for Vincent and moves away. Only her friend Gina knows. She is soon married and has to live with Henry’s mother and sister who don’t approve. They are rich and of society and Tess is now. Tess is just miserable. And it’s the south so things are done a certain way. And people have figured out she is pregnant and talking. Tess is ready to take her nursing exam but they won’t let her. She goes anyway with Henry.

Their marriage is just a sham. It seems to be in name only. Henry is public is the loving husband in private they basically live separate lives. When tragedy strikes Tess feels she can get a divorce and leave. Henry and his mother will not hear of it. She’s stuck there.

Polio soon hits the county and an emergency hospital is set up and Tess becomes a nurse after Henry sees her at work. And then one day she sees those eyes. Vincent has come to town as one of the doctors helping with the outbreak. He finally gets the answers he has wondered about. When Tess finds out some shocking things about her husband, she’s able to get her divorce. The question is now can she and Vincent put the past behind them and start anew?

Just a great look at 1944 and the time that followed and the way things use to be. The war, polio and the values of the time that defined one woman and the choices from a drunken mistake. They say love conquers all and by the time you finish this book you will know if it does or not.

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