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Steeped in history and filled with heart-wrenching twists, The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice, and forgiveness. It showcases Diane Chamberlain at the top of her talent. One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever. It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Te Steeped in history and filled with heart-wrenching twists, The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice, and forgiveness. It showcases Diane Chamberlain at the top of her talent. One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever. It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out. The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not. When a sudden polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working at there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. 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 the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behavior and find the love—and the life—she was meant to have?


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Steeped in history and filled with heart-wrenching twists, The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice, and forgiveness. It showcases Diane Chamberlain at the top of her talent. One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever. It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Te Steeped in history and filled with heart-wrenching twists, The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice, and forgiveness. It showcases Diane Chamberlain at the top of her talent. One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever. It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out. The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not. When a sudden polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working at there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. 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 the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behavior and find the love—and the life—she was meant to have?

30 review for The Stolen Marriage

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Update: $1.99 kindle special. I loved this book. Great price if you haven’t read it. 🤗 5+++++ STARS!!!!! This is the second time I've rated one of Diane Chamberlain's books 'more' than 5 stars!!! I thought "Necessary Lies", was phenomenal!! I STILL DO!!! Yet, "The Stolen Marriage" is absolutely my TOP FAVORITE. Diane Chamberlain got everything right!!! This is fiction - and historical fiction - and storytelling --- at its BEST!!! A DARN GOOD READ!!! Curl up and get comfy, because once you start r Update: $1.99 kindle special. I loved this book. Great price if you haven’t read it. 🤗 5+++++ STARS!!!!! This is the second time I've rated one of Diane Chamberlain's books 'more' than 5 stars!!! I thought "Necessary Lies", was phenomenal!! I STILL DO!!! Yet, "The Stolen Marriage" is absolutely my TOP FAVORITE. Diane Chamberlain got everything right!!! This is fiction - and historical fiction - and storytelling --- at its BEST!!! A DARN GOOD READ!!! Curl up and get comfy, because once you start reading--you'll get transported to another life - another time - with other people who will feel like your friends. "The Stolen Marriage", stole my heart --- connected my brain ---and my entire being is doing the happy dance!! Other than I'm sad the book ended. :( I'm grateful when a book is as fulfilling as this one is. Sincerely grateful!!! :) The story begins in 1943. Tess DeMello and Vincent Russo grew up living next door to each other in Little Italy, Baltimore, Maryland. Vincent has recently become a new medical doctor and Tess is finishing up nursing school. After graduation she will need to take the licensing exam, and then she will be a certified nurse. -- a few challenges about 'taking' the exam felt like nails on a chalkboard to me for awhile. I wanted to hit 'somebody' in the noggin. Tess and Vincent love each other - their families love each other - they are engaged and making wedding plans. Since they have been young teens, it has been their dream to work together in the medical field: doctor and nurse. As for those dreams.... well...READ THE BOOK.... Vincent- is a new doctor without an official job yet- so he takes an opportunity to go to Chicago for a couple of weeks to volunteer with the polio epidemic. Great experience- right? Plus, he had a cousin who had polio years ago - so feels a draw to help with the epidemic. He needs to leave Tess for two weeks. He'll be back plenty in time to continue with wedding plans. Two weeks stretches into three weeks. Three weeks into four weeks, and longer. Tess misses him, and feels a little angry. Tess's best girlfriend is Gina Farinola. Her boyfriend, Mac, is overseas with the army. The war is going on throughout Europe. So, Gina says to Tess, "lets go to Washington for the weekend". (enough of being bummed out girls - missing their guys -Gina talked Tess into having some fun). One weekend-ONE NIGHT - in Washington-- changes the course-direction of life for Tess and Vincent and an entire community of people in Hickory, North Carolina forever!!! Just keep reading, (you won't be able to stop anyway, we are in trusted hands reading Diane's story!! Diane Chamberlain created wondrous characters!!!!! .....Tess DeMello, an Italian girl, has distinctive qualities... not only physically with exotic thick black hair, and exotic big brown eyes...but her values, life priorities, and moral integrity sets her apart from others. .....When Tess marries Hank Kraft of "Kraft Fine Furniture", a pillar of the community in Hickory, North Carolina.... it's clear plenty of girls wanted to get their hands on him. .....Hank is a mysterious man. A little chauvinistic - controlling - protective -clearly giving but distant (removed) -- he's one heck of a puzzling guy! To show just 'how' distant Hank is with Tess.... ......This is Hank, ( or Henry), and Tess's wedding night ( the blue satin negligee that Gina bought her was useless)......haha: Hank says: "I like to read in bed, do you?" "Yes, I said. I've read in bed since I was old enough to turn the pages". "Do you have a book with you?", he asked "I nodded". "Why don't you get it?" "I hesitated. This was hardly what I expected on my wedding night, but I got out of bed and walked barefoot over to my suitcase. I reached for my Agatha Christie novel I'd been attempting to read over the last nerve-racking days. I returned to bed, propped my pillow behind me, and two of us read for the next 20 or 30 minutes. Or at least Henry read. I stared at the Pages but couldn't concentrate. I wanted to get this night over with." "Ready for lights out?" Henry finally asked. "Yes," I said, setting my book on the night table and switching off the lamp. "Good night", he said". Perfect wedding night? Ha! Chamberlain has a wonderful ability to understand her characters deeply ---( soon we will catch up with her). She captures the nuances beautifully, so that even the minor characters are memorable and distinctive. Plus, her writing is natural, insightful, and affecting...with a little mystery...(secrets included). We 'feel', we wonder, we examine, and empathize with the characters. We get an authentic experience of the living conditions of the times in the mid 40's --the religious issues - racial issues - the expected roles of men and women-- laws of the days, ignorant thinking, and the tribulations inflicted by the war. I learned a few things about the polio epidemic - and treatments - that I didn't know until reading this book. For example...I had never heard of the "Sister Kenny Method". It was a fascinating way of treatment of infantile paralysis. Patients would be wrapped in wool --very time-consuming-- and then exercise them several times a day. You could feel how exhausting it was for the nurses....and we longed to reach out to the children ourselves. I LOVE THIS STORY!!!!!! It took me on a journey so thoroughly engrossing--- that there were times I wished all my friends were reading with me. It's so natural to want to share something that you really love. Great great great!!!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Thank You Netgalley, St. Martin's Publishing, and Diane Chamberlain!!!!!!!!!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

    My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr... Diane Chamberlain is one of my favorite authors. So I was very excited to read “The Stolen Marriage”. I’m usually not a big fan of historical fiction novels but I always find that I am pulled in by whatever subject matter Ms. Chamberlain is writing about, and this time was no different. The book opens in Baltimore, Maryland in August 1943. Tess DeMello is celebrating her twenty-third birthday and her fiancé, Vincent’s complet My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr... Diane Chamberlain is one of my favorite authors. So I was very excited to read “The Stolen Marriage”. I’m usually not a big fan of historical fiction novels but I always find that I am pulled in by whatever subject matter Ms. Chamberlain is writing about, and this time was no different. The book opens in Baltimore, Maryland in August 1943. Tess DeMello is celebrating her twenty-third birthday and her fiancé, Vincent’s completion of his hospital residency. Tess has loved Vincent for as long as she can remember. Now that he’s a full-fledged doctor and Tess will be graduating from nursing school, they are looking forward to working side by side. She has it all planned. Where they will live, how many children they will have…everything. After being engaged for the last year she will finally be his bride in May 1944. But in a shockingly turn of events, Tess ends her engagement to Vincent and marries a man she knows nothing about. She relocates to live with her new husband, Henry in Hickory, North Carolina. Hickory is NOTHING like Little Italy. Her new husband runs a fine furniture factory that’s been in his family for years. Everyone judges Tess thinking she married Henry for his money. They don’t trust her and many seem to outright despise her. Now Tess is unhappy and trapped in a loveless marriage to a man who has many secrets. Although Henry can be very kind, he’s often moody. He’s usually late coming home and sometimes doesn’t come home at all – offering lame excuses for his absence. While their house is being built they must live with Henry’s mother and sister who barely tolerate Tess. People tell her that there are so many things she doesn’t know but won’t tell her what those things are. “It’s a terrible feeling, being despised. From the moment I set foot in Hickory, I felt the suspicion, distrust, and outright hostility of most of the people I met” Tess is hit with one thing after another as things go from bad to worse, and it doesn’t look like things are going to get much better. But when a polio outbreak hits Hickory, Tess is determined to do all she can to help. Will Tess ever find happiness and acceptance in Hickory? And will she ever find the love she so desperately wants and deserves? After a promising start, there was a lot going on and at first it wasn’t pulling me in. However, I needn’t have worried as it wasn’t long before I was gripped by the story and excited to find out what was going to happen next. As usual, the author has created many wonderful characters. Some characters I absolutely loved and others that made me furious. I was annoyed with Tess at first and at times I wanted to shout at her to stand up for herself. But I also admired her ability to hold her head up high. Diane Chamberlain writes fiction books but the stories are often written around real events in history such as the war, polio, racism etc. This novel was no different. I always learn new things when reading her novels, and often end up doing more of my own research to find out more. I found it interesting reading about a time that my mother lived in. In many ways it made me realize how fortunate I am, and how much I take for granted. A fantastic story about secrets, love, racism, betrayal, forgiveness and so much more. I can’t wait to read more from Diane Chamberlain. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review. * I had a lot of fun reading and discussing this novel with some of the ladies from The Traveling Sisters group.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is wonderful and compelling historical fiction by Diane Chamberlain set in the 1940s. Tess and Vincent have grown up in the same neighbourhood of Baltimore, Maryland. They are engaged, madly in love and their families are over the moon. Vincent has just qualified as a medical doctor, and Tess is in the process of becoming a registered nurse. A medical emergency in Chicago has Vincent volunteering his help, promising Tess that he will return soon. He stays away longer than expected, making T This is wonderful and compelling historical fiction by Diane Chamberlain set in the 1940s. Tess and Vincent have grown up in the same neighbourhood of Baltimore, Maryland. They are engaged, madly in love and their families are over the moon. Vincent has just qualified as a medical doctor, and Tess is in the process of becoming a registered nurse. A medical emergency in Chicago has Vincent volunteering his help, promising Tess that he will return soon. He stays away longer than expected, making Tess jittery, insecure and nervous. To distract herself, she joins her best friend Gina on a weekend away at Washington that results in tragic repercussions. On a dinner with two men, Tess gets drunk, and actions which have her getting pregnant. Tess ends her engagement with Vincent, and is surprised when well to do, furniture man, Hank Kraft, wants to marry her. Tess moves to small town Hickory, in North Carolina, a place suffering from the privations of World War 2 and simmering racial tensions. It soon becomes apparent that Hank and Tess's marriage is in trouble, given their wedding night where Hank shows no desire for Tess, despite having made her pregnant. Trapped in a loveless marriage, and a husband with secrets, Tess has to find deep reserves to adapt to her present set of circumstances. Hickory does not welcome her, Hank's mother and sister are resentful and suspicious of her motives, and apparently another woman was meant to have married Hank, according to local women, she has stolen their marriage. Tess finds company in the domestic help, but her life feels empty and unfulfilled. When a hospital is set up for polio victims, Tess wants to do her bit. She finds her mettle as she faces down opposition to her working from Hank and his mother. Tess finds her calling as a nurse, but where is her life going to lead? What are Hank's secrets? This is a story of its time, where the past haunts the present as the truth emerges. Diane has done impressive research of the period, capturing the culture and true life events of the time. Her details of the time, such as the illegality of marriage between the races, her deployment of a wide array of characters and her beautiful writing style gives us an atmospheric and compelling narrative located in the 1940s, with numerous twists and turns. The character of Tess captures the situations, attitudes to and expectations of women in this period of time. I really liked Tess and a number of other characters, such as Reverend Sam and the way he communes with the dead. This is a story of love, loss, race, marriage, tragedy and redemption. A wonderful piece of historical fiction that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Just brilliant! Many thanks to PanMacmillan for an ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    Blurb From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel 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 re Blurb From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel 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? I really loved this book and I am starting to love this genre more and more. This is actually a historical fiction book that is based on true events. You can really tell that the author did lots and lots of research on this book. The people in Hickory actually did built and staffed a polio hospital in fifty-four hours, which is just amazing. The hospital evaluated six hundred and sixty-three patients over it's nine months in existence. The author does a great job writing about the town of Hickory and it's Polio Hospital. The patients and their situations described in this book are purely products of her imagination. I loved the story. I thought also that the characters were so well done and that the author makes them come to life. I loved Tess! Tess begins her story with a crisis and self doubt and grows stronger. The author also writes about life in the war in Hickory. She goes back to the year of 1944. I thought she did another great job writing about the year of 1944. I actually felt like I time traveled back in time to this year. I felt like I was there. You could really tell that the author educated herself on North Carolina laws regarding marriage in the forties. Interracial marriages were prohibited and punishable by up to ten years in prison and getting out of a marriage was close to impossible, as Tess discovers in this book. I am so happy that has changed today. That would be just awful. I summarized the author's note at the end of the book and also wrote my thoughts of this book. I love the book cover of this book. Diane Chamberlain is a new author to me and I will be reading more of her books. I thought this was such a great story, and I was very impressed. I love to read a fiction book based on a true event. It's the enjoying the story while actually learning about the town, the polio hospital and what it was like in the year of 1944. I now want to experience all of her books. I highly recommend this book. I want to thank Netgalley, the publisher, St. Martin's Press and Diane Chamberlain for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    5+.+.+.+.+.+.+ WONDERFUL ENGROSSING UNPUTDOWNABLE STARS!Loved it all....from the very first page of the enticing prologue straight through to the Author's Notes at the very end detailing her in-depth research that made the characters and history behind the town of Hickory come to life.It's 1943 in Little Italy. Tess and Vincent have their whole lives planned out. He's a Doctor....She's a Nurse.....but all does not go as expected.....not by a long shot.THE STOLEN MARRIAGE takes us from Maryland t 5+.+.+.+.+.+.+ WONDERFUL ENGROSSING UNPUTDOWNABLE STARS!Loved it all....from the very first page of the enticing prologue straight through to the Author's Notes at the very end detailing her in-depth research that made the characters and history behind the town of Hickory come to life.It's 1943 in Little Italy. Tess and Vincent have their whole lives planned out. He's a Doctor....She's a Nurse.....but all does not go as expected.....not by a long shot.THE STOLEN MARRIAGE takes us from Maryland to North Carolina where a kind-hearted, but distressed Tess bravely steps forward to make a difficult request....and decision about the rest of her life. And from there, all hell breaks loose....in her life....and in the world.WONDERFUL - are the characters....some you will like....some you won't.ENGROSSING- is the storyline....the historical data....the polio hospital.UNPUTDOWNABLE - the result of DC's writing....she makes the story....real.Of course there are secrets....BIG ones....SURPRISING ones; and you may anticipate where it all ends, but what enjoyment getting there.If you've never read a Diane Chamberlain novel, you're REALLY missing out! Highly Recommend!Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 I am not going to rehash the summary of the plot for this book, you can read that on your own. This was another sisters read and my review is just what I wrote as my final analysis on the sisters thread for final thoughts. The year is 1944, and takes place for the most part in Hickory, South Carolina. I definitely think the last third of the novel was the best, we got to finally know the characters and what they are made of. Such different times, choices for women so limited. At least Henry p 3.5 I am not going to rehash the summary of the plot for this book, you can read that on your own. This was another sisters read and my review is just what I wrote as my final analysis on the sisters thread for final thoughts. The year is 1944, and takes place for the most part in Hickory, South Carolina. I definitely think the last third of the novel was the best, we got to finally know the characters and what they are made of. Such different times, choices for women so limited. At least Henry proved honorable in the end. Still though for me this was way too dramatic, too many things thrown in,made it unbelievable. Definitely reminded me of a soap opera. Yes, she did a vast amount of research but it seemed as if everything she found out she just had to include.. Did like the parts about polio, the hospital, those seemed very real. The happy ever after ending, nice but maybe too good to be true. My rating will be a 3.5. as I did like the last part. In fact the book was very likable for me, just not more than that. Know I will probably be in the minority here. Turned out I wasn't the only one who felt this way about the book, we ended up split down the middle. It is important to mention, as the author did at books end, that this hospital for those inflicted with polio, did in fact exist. Most amazing of all is that is was actually put together and functional within a matter of days. I don't think I was the ideal reader for this book, but I did enjoy the historical elements of this, just not the piling on of things that went wrong. ARC from Netgalley.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    4.5 stars (rounded to 5 stars) This is my third Diane Chamberlain novel, and I have to say she writes fiction as well as anyone I’ve read. I could easily get in a rut and read several Chamberlain stories in a row. It’s been about a year since I read my last one; it won’t take nearly that long for me to read my next. The story is set in the mid 1940s, first in Baltimore, then in the town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess DeMello had a good thing going. She had a wonderful fiancé, a budding career, a 4.5 stars (rounded to 5 stars) This is my third Diane Chamberlain novel, and I have to say she writes fiction as well as anyone I’ve read. I could easily get in a rut and read several Chamberlain stories in a row. It’s been about a year since I read my last one; it won’t take nearly that long for me to read my next. The story is set in the mid 1940s, first in Baltimore, then in the town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess DeMello had a good thing going. She had a wonderful fiancé, a budding career, a loving mother, her church, and a hometown she loved. Then she made a mistake that would change things forever. Stolen Marriage is a compelling story about regrets, deception, heartache, strength, and redemption. It is also a powerful tale of prejudice, privilege of the rich, forbidden love, fierce loyalty, and the pulling together of a community to save many lives. Stolen Marriage is written in first person from Tess’s perspective. Ms. Chamberlain does a stellar job in developing Tess and letting us in on the roller coaster ride of her thoughts and emotions. For many reasons Tess is not welcome in Hickory. I admired the way she didn’t wallow in the circumstances of her own making, but forged on, doing everything she could to make the best of a bad situation. The tale is full of intriguing characters. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft is a well-respected businessman, but his actions are curious and his motives are not clear. Henry’s mother Ruth and his sister Lucy have their own agendas, and they do not include having Tess as a member of the family. We also are introduced to Reverend Sam and a bit of paranormal imagery. Then there is sweet Hattie and Honor, Zeke and little Jilly amongst an array of other townspeople. Playing a large part in the story is the hospital for polio victims set up in Hickory in an astounding 54 hours when the emergent need arose. Much of this section is based on fact and is clearly well researched. Learning about the way the epidemic was handled back then was fascinating. It was a nice change to read and learn about a crisis other than the war from that time period. The plot turns in the story were well done. I thought I had things figured out on several occasions, but the twists kept coming. The ending was very satisfying, and I appreciated the epilogue, which takes place ten years later. I found Stolen Marriage to be very inspiring. This gets a lot of points in my book. The only thing keeping it from a full 5 stars is that I wish Vincent had been more fleshed out. I didn’t feel I knew enough about him and his history with Tess to fully feel their relationship. Overall, Stolen Marriage was a captivating read. Kudos to Ms. Chamberlain for being able to write such a quality book so far into her career (and without a co-author, lol). This novel is highly recommended for everyone. I look forward to reading many more of Ms. Chamberlain’s novels. Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for inviting me to read an ARC through Net Galley. Opinions expressed are mine alone and are not biased in any way.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    "You are in way over your head," she said. Pass the sweet tea and sit near the magnolias. That is an understatement. Tess DeMello flipped the switch on a life she never bargained for. A promising future seems to dim by the minute as a shocking reality grabs her by the hand and won't let go. Too much alcohol, a tall pleasant looking stranger, and a darkened room line up as the very nails sealing her fate. It's 1943 in the Little Italy neighborhood in Baltimore. What follows is a broken engagement t "You are in way over your head," she said. Pass the sweet tea and sit near the magnolias. That is an understatement. Tess DeMello flipped the switch on a life she never bargained for. A promising future seems to dim by the minute as a shocking reality grabs her by the hand and won't let go. Too much alcohol, a tall pleasant looking stranger, and a darkened room line up as the very nails sealing her fate. It's 1943 in the Little Italy neighborhood in Baltimore. What follows is a broken engagement to the love of her life and a broken-hearted mother who refuses to forgive. Being in a "family way" will do that. So Tess boards a train to Hickory, North Carolina in search of the father of her baby. Her initial intention is to make a financial agreement with Henry so that she can raise the baby on her own. Somehow marriage becomes part of the transaction. Those train tracks have led Tess into a horrendous quagmire of circumstances. Breaking free is atune to a hippo crossing daintily over a wide patch of heavy quicksand. Not a chance, sweetie. A hidden pregnancy, a loveless marriage, and a mother-in-law and sister-in-law who gave the devil his pitchfork await Tess in Hickory. Even the town's people have cricks in their necks from giving Tess nasty looks. A dark-haired girl with Italian features just doesn't seem to fit in with all these Southern belles. Oh, and there are secrets here, too. There's something about Henry and his cold indifference. Hmmmmm....... This was my first book by Diane Chamberlain. It's certainly a page-turner with the writing style that Chamberlain presents. She pulls us into the World War II era hook, line, and sinker with the judgmental attitudes back then. These attitudes are prevalent throughout the storyline and are causal factors into the faulty decisions made by these characters. Chamberlain has done a lot of research into the lifestyles during the war effort, the polio epidemic, and the race relations of the time. We read with a mind that observes that some things change and some things don't. Chamberlain does throw a nice "twisty" towards the end, but many events are predictable because of the era. The story advances into 1955 with most episodes placed in neat little rowhouses at the end. But then, you have to dive into this shifting pool filled with many quirky characters in order to walk through the sparking fire to get there. A fast-paced, enjoyable read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication. Powerful and emotive- The story is set in the 1940’s, and is centered around Tess DeMello, who lives in Little Italy, is engaged to Vincent, the love of her life, and hoping to become a nurse. But, when her fiancé leaves town for a while, Tess makes a mistake that effectively derailed all her plans, sending her life into a tailspin. Trapped, and all alone after her break up with Vincent, Tess travels to Hickory, N The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication. Powerful and emotive- The story is set in the 1940’s, and is centered around Tess DeMello, who lives in Little Italy, is engaged to Vincent, the love of her life, and hoping to become a nurse. But, when her fiancé leaves town for a while, Tess makes a mistake that effectively derailed all her plans, sending her life into a tailspin. Trapped, and all alone after her break up with Vincent, Tess travels to Hickory, North Carolina and agrees to marry Henry Kraft, a man she barely knows. Not only is living in Hickory a culture shock, but the residents are not exactly welcoming, and neither is her new mother-in-law. But, the most puzzling thing of all, is Henry’s behavior towards her once they are married. Henry is an enigma, harboring deeply buried secrets he refuses to share with his wife. Miserable and looking for a way out of her bleak situation, Tess sees a lifeline when the town of Hickory builds a new hospital in the wake of a polio outbreak. Although Henry is adamantly opposed to his wife working outside the home, Tess puts her foot down, and goes back to school so she can work as a nurse. Yet, Henry’s dual life remains a mystery, until a startling revelation once more changes the course of Tess’s life. I must confess, this story had me worried there for a while. I love historical fiction, southern fiction, and I am a huge fan of this author. When the stellar reviews started to trickle in, I became more and more excited about reading this book. But, I found myself struggling with a few issues here and there and was afraid I may have raised my expectations a little too high. However, after I finished the book and let everything sink in, I understood why this book has had such a profound effect on so many readers. The war backdrop, the polio outbreak, and the racial issues are a potent combination. I must comment on a few of the problems I had with the story, though. I’m slightly confused by the timeline concerning Henry and Tess’s first meeting. Was Henry already deeply involved in the situation that prompted him to seize upon the opportunity Tess’s predicament afforded him? If so, the behavior of both Tess and Henry, alcohol fueled or not, didn't seem in line with their characters and I wasn't totally convinced by their impulsiveness. However, I did understand the author’s intent and she did a magnificent job of getting that point across. It is heartbreaking and unimaginable that someone would have to resort to such desperate measures just to be with the people they loved. While I did have to suspend belief a little in respect to the clever planning, or sheer opportunitistic and quick thinking, that resulted in the freedom everyone so urgently needed, overall, I was happy with the way things worked out. Despite the serious work yet to be done, it is great to be reminded of the medical progress we’ve made, the results of which we almost take for granted now, and the roads paved by women like our brave and resilient protagonist, who fought for the opportunity to work outside the home, and to diversify the career choices women enjoy today. It is also good to be reminded of those awful racial laws, that have since been abolished, because I feel it is important to look at how far we've come, but we should also avoid complacency, and of course, as I said, there is still MUCH work we have yet to accomplish. I am often depressed by the threat of losing all this progress. Once won, we should not have to continue to fight these same battles over and over and over. But, alas, it seems we must and there are still many battles we haven't even fought, much less won. But… this novel also proves that the fight is worth the risk and sacrifice, that we can do better and things can change. So, after some consideration, I found this book to be just the right inspiration at just the right time for me. Diane Chamberlain is a great storyteller and once more I have come away with more appreciation for her talent. 4 stars

  10. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    I loved Necessary Lies, the first book by Diane Chamberlain that I read. I have mixed feelings about this one even though she reflects on some important issues of the time she writes about. A view of the polio epidemic in the 1940’s was definitely informative. The historical significance and sadness over forbidden inter racial relationships that were not only unacceptable but unlawful in the South in the 1940’s is depicted. The problem was that I just wasn’t captivated by the story until I was o I loved Necessary Lies, the first book by Diane Chamberlain that I read. I have mixed feelings about this one even though she reflects on some important issues of the time she writes about. A view of the polio epidemic in the 1940’s was definitely informative. The historical significance and sadness over forbidden inter racial relationships that were not only unacceptable but unlawful in the South in the 1940’s is depicted. The problem was that I just wasn’t captivated by the story until I was over half way done . Tess DeMello seems to be living a wonderful life even though the story takes place in the war years. She happily engaged, finishing nursing school, but through a turn of events, she leaves Baltimore and ends up in Hickory, NC in a marriage that never should have happened in the first place. She's trapped in a loveless marriage and is seen by her husband's well to do family as an outsider who has spoiled their lives. Secrets abound about her husband Henry who at first doesn't come across as a good man. She’s miserable until The Hickory Emergency Infantile Paralysis Hospital came to be by hard work of good people in Hickory, which Chamberlain tells us in an ending note was a real place. It wasn’t until then that Tess's character comes to life, as the nurse she was trained to be and the capable, caring person that she is and it wasn't until then that the book came alive for me . The secrets, though not revealed until close to the end were somewhat predictable and the ending a little too pat. As mentioned earlier, there are some positive things about the story so I'll go with 3 stars. It's a pretty quick read and fans of Chamberlain will have to decide for themselves as there are more positive reviews to read . I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This novel starts with a young couple in Little Italy, Baltimore, Maryland in 1943, who have grown up together and are engaged. A situation happens, and then the story moves to Hickory, North Carolina, 1944 during the years when polio was first being treated. A really good historical novel! This was a real page turner! Secrets abounding! Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC! This novel starts with a young couple in Little Italy, Baltimore, Maryland in 1943, who have grown up together and are engaged. A situation happens, and then the story moves to Hickory, North Carolina, 1944 during the years when polio was first being treated. A really good historical novel! This was a real page turner! Secrets abounding! Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    3.5 stars rounded up Traveling Sister Group Read with Diane, Sarah and Deanna I read The Stolen Marriage with three of my Traveling sisters as a group read and we were split on how we felt about this book. Two sisters who don’t often read Historical fiction reached out and tried something a little different by reading this one and they ended up really enjoying this novel. With one of the sisters being a fan of Diane Chamberlain and for another sister and myself we had some concerns with this book. 3.5 stars rounded up Traveling Sister Group Read with Diane, Sarah and Deanna I read The Stolen Marriage with three of my Traveling sisters as a group read and we were split on how we felt about this book. Two sisters who don’t often read Historical fiction reached out and tried something a little different by reading this one and they ended up really enjoying this novel. With one of the sisters being a fan of Diane Chamberlain and for another sister and myself we had some concerns with this book. I have read a couple of Diane Chamberlain’s books and I really enjoyed them, however this one had so much going on that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked. The Stolen Marriage was an interesting and memorable read but yet overdramatic at times with a story about marriage, divorce, secrets, loss, tragedy in different forms, racial tension, women’s rights and life during the war that touched on so many different topics. There is a lot going on here within this story. This created more drama than some of us would of liked and we had a harder time connecting with the story at first. Tess starts off with a crisis and her life takes an unexpected turn and she finds herself married into a family where not everyone welcomes her into her Stolen Marriage. She experiences hardship after hardship and event after event creating a lot of drama in Tess’s daily life. With so much going on here it took away from any feelings for Tess’s anguish for one sister and myself. For the other sisters they enjoyed the drama and connected with Tess and her feelings. Things moved quite quickly from one event to the other and I felt like not enough time was spent on one event to stir up any real emotions from me. There is a little mystery to Tess’s marriage with some secrets being kept that added some suspense to the story and we all really enjoyed the mystery and discussing that. Diane Chamberlain does an excellent job with researching life in Hickory during the war, the polio hospital and with the laws of marriage. I would've liked more about that and less of all the other topics that I felt just weren't needed in this historical fiction. Diane Chamberlain does do a good job with the character development with Tess’s character and we did finally get to know her and see her grow stronger as the story progressed allowing us to connect and feel her emotions more. In the end I started looking at this more like a drama rather than a historical fiction and I did really like the ending along with some of the other sisters. We were all split on wanting a little less drama on this one to make it more enjoyable. Overall we all enjoyed The Stolen Marriage and our reading experience. It made for a very good group read with an interesting and enjoyable discussion. I highly recommend for a group read. All of our Traveling Sisters Reviews can be found on our sister blog: http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    3.66 stars. The Stolen Marriage is historical fiction with a mystery/romance element, set in North Carolina during WWII. In Brooklyn, 1944, Tess DeMello is deeply in love with her fiancé Vincent, a doctor working out of town. But Vincent keeps extending his trip and Tess is getting perturbed, so one weekend she and her bestie Gina take an overnight trip to New York City to see the sights. They go out to dinner with a couple of guys staying at the same place, Tess drinks far too much, and she and 3.66 stars. The Stolen Marriage is historical fiction with a mystery/romance element, set in North Carolina during WWII. In Brooklyn, 1944, Tess DeMello is deeply in love with her fiancé Vincent, a doctor working out of town. But Vincent keeps extending his trip and Tess is getting perturbed, so one weekend she and her bestie Gina take an overnight trip to New York City to see the sights. They go out to dinner with a couple of guys staying at the same place, Tess drinks far too much, and she and one of the guys end up sleeping together (it falls just short of date rape, IMO, but they're both very drunk). When Tess winds up pregnant, she writes a letter to Vincent breaking off their engagement and disappears from his life. She finds the guy, Henry Kraft, in Hickory, North Carolina, to ask him for money to go live somewhere new. Henry, who is from a wealthy, socially prominent family, unexpectedly offers to marry Tess, and she agrees. Life in Hickory is difficult for Tess: Henry is kind but standoffish, and inexplicably hardly touches her again; they're living with his resentful mother and spoiled, hateful sister; and all the socialites in town hate Tess for stealing Henry away from the lovely girl who expected to marry him. Tess is of Italian descent, and experiences racial prejudice as well. Plus Tess has completed her schooling and wants to become a registered nurse, but Henry and his mother are appalled at the idea of her working. When a terrible polio outbreak hits Hickory, it changes life for Tess and everyone in the town. The townspeople come together to set up a hospital within just 54 hours from when it was first publicly proposed. Tess finds several doors unexpectedly opening to her as a result, including that her nursing training may finally be put to use ... but there's a lot more. Diane Chamberlain did a lot of research for The Stolen Marriage, and the polio outbreak and near-miraculous creation of a polio hospital there are based on actual history. Here's one account with pictures, and here's another more detailed written account. This subplot about the polio epidemic and the polio hospital in Hickory was the most interesting part of the book for me. The rest is a serviceable though rather soap opera-ish historical fiction novel, with a romance subplot and a mystery. I had a few issues with it: The writing is competent but very straightforward, and the characters are pretty one-dimensional. There's a spiritualism subplot that I never warmed to; while I am of the "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio" camp and I think that spirits of those who've died can and occasionally do visit the living, I'm also strongly of the opinion that anyone who is a practicing spiritualist (i.e., one who contacts the dead for other people, usually for money, though that's not the case here) is almost certainly a fraud. There's also some moral relativism of the end-justifies-the-means type in the later part of the book that didn't sit well with me. Still, it was an interesting story, and it does do a good job weaving in issues of the time, like the role of women and discrimination against blacks, Italians and other minorities. I think this one will appeal to readers who like light and somewhat romantic historical fiction, with a dose of educational historical content on the side. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley for review. Thank you!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    Wow ! Diane Chamberlain has a talent stirring for up a cauldron of emotions in her novels and her latest The Stolen Marriage is certainly a Story that will give many readers lots to discuss with its tightly woven and highly engaging and at times controversial storyline and I highly recommend this one for book clubs as there is lots here to make for a fantastic discussion. In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterio Wow ! Diane Chamberlain has a talent stirring for up a cauldron of emotions in her novels and her latest The Stolen Marriage is certainly a Story that will give many readers lots to discuss with its tightly woven and highly engaging and at times controversial storyline and I highly recommend this one for book clubs as there is lots here to make for a fantastic discussion. 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. Hickory is 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. There is so much I want to say about this book but I really don't want to spoil it for others so I will keep it short. I really enjoyed this historical fiction novel, well researched in sense of time and place with interesting characters, a great storyline that really had me hooked from page one. There was so many times in this book " I wanted to phone a friend" just to vent my feelings and opinions and that is why I think this would make a great book club discussion book and will certainly be recommending this one for the months ahead and I have a feeling this is one that is going to come up in one of my Book Groups and I would have no hesitation in revisiting this one again. . My thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this novel in return for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Thanks to Goodreads, the author, and the publisher, for the complimentary copy of The Stolen Marriage on sale 10/3/17. I was ecstatic to win an early copy of this book! 🎉 As I wrapped up reading, I went back and forth on a four or five star rating and decided it was an easy five for these reasons: when a book completely consumes my world (I read it in just a couple sittings), and I found myself transported to 1940s Hickory, North Carolina (just about an hour from where I live)...This book was pu Thanks to Goodreads, the author, and the publisher, for the complimentary copy of The Stolen Marriage on sale 10/3/17. I was ecstatic to win an early copy of this book! 🎉 As I wrapped up reading, I went back and forth on a four or five star rating and decided it was an easy five for these reasons: when a book completely consumes my world (I read it in just a couple sittings), and I found myself transported to 1940s Hickory, North Carolina (just about an hour from where I live)...This book was pure enjoyment and exactly why I read. Oh, the characters! What characters! Tess, Henry, Vincent, Lucy, Ruth, Zeke, Hattie, Adora, Honor, Reverand Sam...I found myself immediately sympathetic to Tess and intrigued by the puzzling Henry. The short chapters were perfectly done because I kept thinking - just one more, and just one more. The prologue is quite the cliffhanger, and that really set the stage for the whole book. Some parts I had guesses about early on, but that didn't impact my enjoyment. It's just solid, engaging storytelling. Polio in the 1940s: My mom was born in the 40s, and I always find this time period fascinating. I knew almost nothing about polio and how scary the epidemic was, but I remembered mom had a childhood friend diagnosed with it. Thanks to this book, I asked mom many questions about polio and what she remembered from growing up with the threat of that disease so unpredictable and so imminent. A funny tidbit: Diane Chamberlain chats with readers regularly on her Facebook page, and when she was writing this book, she asked for names of women in the 1940s. I responded with both my grandmothers' names...I was reading through the book, and at about 70 pages in, my maternal grandmother's distinctive name appeared as a rather unsavory character! Lol It was fun to see her name in print! I loved loved loved this book! Loved! Summer 2017 Book #13

  16. 4 out of 5

    *TANYA*

    Wow!!! This book dealt with a lot of taboo subjects for the times, it’s based on historical events, very well written. The plot was captivating. This book had everything!!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Joint

    I'm rating this one a 4.5 rounded up to a 5! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I don't read historical fiction often, and usually books with heavy drama are an automatic pass for me. Diane Chamberlain apparently just does it incredibly well. Some parts of the book are slower than others, but it never lost my attention. I didn't have a lot of reading time once I started it, but couldn't wait to dive back in. The author very clearly does a lot of research about what she writes about I'm rating this one a 4.5 rounded up to a 5! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I don't read historical fiction often, and usually books with heavy drama are an automatic pass for me. Diane Chamberlain apparently just does it incredibly well. Some parts of the book are slower than others, but it never lost my attention. I didn't have a lot of reading time once I started it, but couldn't wait to dive back in. The author very clearly does a lot of research about what she writes about. I learned a few new things. Who says you can't learn anything from reading fiction? Not me! This book takes place during World War II, and can be jarring. The world was a very different place then, and a lot of things deemed "proper" then we now rightfully consider racist and sexist. Tess DeMello has a plan for her life. She'll marry her childhood sweetheart, the kind and handsome Vincent. She'll finish her nursing degree and work alongside her husband, who is a doctor. They'll settle down and have exactly four children. They'll live close to their families but not too close. They are in agreement. Everything will be perfect. Everything can change in a single night. Tess breaks Vincent's heart and disappears. She marries a wealthy man she hasn't known for long at all. He is kind to her, but distant at the same time, almost treating her as you would an acquaintance. He shows no affection towards her unless there's someone else around. He doesn't want to make love to her. He doesn't want to confide in her. It soon becomes clear that she's trapped in a loveless marriage in an unfamiliar town wary of outsiders, including Tess. Tess has a lonely existence, a far cry from her life at home where she was surrounded by loved ones. At first she's determined to grow closer to her husband, but he rebukes her every attempt. Why would this man marry her if he doesn't even want to share a bed? Spurned by her husband and his family, she finds allies in unlikely places and a new purpose helping others, but will that be enough? Tess faces a lot of hardships in this book, but I'm keeping my review spoiler free. This book is filled with secrets and heartache. I think it's fine historical fiction! I accurately predicted some of the plot points, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment. This was a great book to read with The Traveling Sisters group and led to a good amount of discussion. Our opinions varied but I think we all enjoyed it! I received a copy of this book from Net Galley and St. Martin's Press, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Holly B

    3.5 The story follows Tess DeMello who is a 23 year old girl living in Little Italy, Baltimore, MD. She has been madly in love with her boyfriend Vincent since they were teenagers. They are engaged to be married and their families are thrilled. Vincent has just completed his residency at John's Hopkins and now he is Dr. Vincent Russo M.D. and Tess is preparing to graduate from nursing school. They are both preparing for their happily-ever-after! How does Tess suddenly end up in Hickory, North Caro 3.5 The story follows Tess DeMello who is a 23 year old girl living in Little Italy, Baltimore, MD. She has been madly in love with her boyfriend Vincent since they were teenagers. They are engaged to be married and their families are thrilled. Vincent has just completed his residency at John's Hopkins and now he is Dr. Vincent Russo M.D. and Tess is preparing to graduate from nursing school. They are both preparing for their happily-ever-after! How does Tess suddenly end up in Hickory, North Carolina? Whose marriage was stolen? Why does she marry a complete stranger? She is stuck in a loveless marriage and her life has taken a direction that she never wanted. Her new husband Henry is a wealthy man and his family has given Tess a very cold reception. They question her motives. Tess soon discovers that Henry has secrets of his own and while he is kind to her, they have no real marriage. When a polio epidemic strikes Hickory, Tess finds herself questioning the choices she has made and tries to forgive herself for the events that caused her life to spin out of control. The end was a bit predictable, but still an interesting and enjoyable book. Publication date is October 3, 2017 Arc from NG

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mackey

    Diane Chamberlain is a new author for me and I'm thrilled to have found her work! A Stolen Marriage is a well written historical fiction/romance novel that is heavy on the history and light on the romance which is exactly how I like these books. Set during the 1940s, the story begins in the northeast but, due to a twist of fate, our heroine soon finds herself pregnant, married to the wrong man and on her way to his family home in the deep DEEP southern US. The war is raging overseas and at home Diane Chamberlain is a new author for me and I'm thrilled to have found her work! A Stolen Marriage is a well written historical fiction/romance novel that is heavy on the history and light on the romance which is exactly how I like these books. Set during the 1940s, the story begins in the northeast but, due to a twist of fate, our heroine soon finds herself pregnant, married to the wrong man and on her way to his family home in the deep DEEP southern US. The war is raging overseas and at home there is a polio outbreak. Even with their hands full, these southern families have time for causing trouble based on their racial, religious and ethnic prejudices which leads to the climatic conclusion of this story. Chamberlain devotes a lot of research to the era and the tension and bigotry expressed is spot on - for that that time period and today in the southern US. I appreciate her character development and flawless prose. There were times that I felt there was a bit of melodrama but overall the book was terrific. I highly recommend it for those who enjoy this genre.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Poignant, candid, and insightful! The Stolen Marriage is predominantly set in North Carolina during WWII and is the story of Tess, a young woman who finds her life unexpectedly turned upside down after one night of irresponsibility and the choices and sacrifices she must then make to survive and ultimately find fulfillment, happiness, and unconditional love. The writing is precise, captivating and fluid. The characters are multi-faceted, genuine, and endearing. And the plot is a sweeping saga file Poignant, candid, and insightful! The Stolen Marriage is predominantly set in North Carolina during WWII and is the story of Tess, a young woman who finds her life unexpectedly turned upside down after one night of irresponsibility and the choices and sacrifices she must then make to survive and ultimately find fulfillment, happiness, and unconditional love. The writing is precise, captivating and fluid. The characters are multi-faceted, genuine, and endearing. And the plot is a sweeping saga filed with family, loss, secrets, determination, self-discovery, faith, discrimination, racial segregation, as well as an in-depth look at the devastating polio epidemic of the 1940s. The Stolen Marriage is a wonderfully written novel by Chamberlain that grabs you from the very start and does an exceptional job of blending historical facts, suspense, and a little paranormal into an incredibly fascinating story. Thank you to St. Martins Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. All my reviews can be found on my blog at https://whatsbetterthanbooks.com

  21. 5 out of 5

    Esil

    3.5 stars. It's so hard for me to rate this book. I found it had glaring flaws and yet I ripped right through most of it today. I think that tends to be my relationship with Diane Chamberlain's books. Set during WWII, the story focuses on Tess, who lives in Baltimore and is all set to become a nurse and marry her childhood sweetheart. Through events that I won't recount to avoid spoilers, her life is set off course and she finds herself in Hickory, North Carolina, in a loveless marriage with som 3.5 stars. It's so hard for me to rate this book. I found it had glaring flaws and yet I ripped right through most of it today. I think that tends to be my relationship with Diane Chamberlain's books. Set during WWII, the story focuses on Tess, who lives in Baltimore and is all set to become a nurse and marry her childhood sweetheart. Through events that I won't recount to avoid spoilers, her life is set off course and she finds herself in Hickory, North Carolina, in a loveless marriage with someone other than her childhood sweetheart. Tess' situation gives Chamberlain an opportunity to explore issues of sex, class and race. What struck me as glaring flaws are that Tess is too perfect, there is an overload of dramatic events, the politics are simplistic and, with one notable exception, the story is pretty predictable. But despite these flaws. I did manage to get caught up in the story, wanting to follow Tess through to what one knows will surely be a happy ending. To give Chamberlain more credit, I should also note that, as in many of her books, she highlights an interesting historical event. In this case, the story takes place in Hickory, North Carolina which was particularly hard hit by polio in 1945. Part of the book delves into this devastating disease and how this small town came together to deal with it. Many readers liked this book far more than I did, but despite its flaws, I still enjoyed it enough to be glad I read it. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    The dreaded 3 star curse is still with me ☹️ Predictable at every turn and cookie cutter characters made this another rough read for me, down to the 🍒 on top ending. Chamberlain wants the reader to sympathize for the choices some of these characters had to make, based on the era they lived in. This fell flat to me though, as I didn't find the culture to be as volatile as it is typically portrayed in this time period regarding race, wedlock, slavery, and stature in the community. It was implied, bu The dreaded 3 star curse is still with me ☹️ Predictable at every turn and cookie cutter characters made this another rough read for me, down to the 🍒 on top ending. Chamberlain wants the reader to sympathize for the choices some of these characters had to make, based on the era they lived in. This fell flat to me though, as I didn't find the culture to be as volatile as it is typically portrayed in this time period regarding race, wedlock, slavery, and stature in the community. It was implied, but never too deeply to get me to feel. The only exception to this was with the Polio storyline-that I felt showed more of the dire straits of life in the 1940’s. I'm in the minority on this one, so don't let the 3* black cloud hanging over me sway you. I'm still a fan, this just wasn't my favorite. ARC provided by NetGalley

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Well Diane Chamberlain Is now my favourite author in this genre , this is an absolute gem & was a joy to read I am putting this in Historical Fiction as it was set in Baltimore Maryland 1944. I just could not stop reading it page by page the prose got stronger & stronger, I love Miss Chamberlain's writing style she gets the reader right in & I actually thought I was in Maryland with all the characters. This is a story of Forbidden love, Tess Demille's Strengths & weaknesses, as she fights for he Well Diane Chamberlain Is now my favourite author in this genre , this is an absolute gem & was a joy to read I am putting this in Historical Fiction as it was set in Baltimore Maryland 1944. I just could not stop reading it page by page the prose got stronger & stronger, I love Miss Chamberlain's writing style she gets the reader right in & I actually thought I was in Maryland with all the characters. This is a story of Forbidden love, Tess Demille's Strengths & weaknesses, as she fights for her lost son Andrew & a marriage to Henry that was a farse as well as fighting his Mother Ruth who was an absolute witch But she had her reasons, suffering throughout the prose. I absolutely loved Tess she was so confident & strong her work as a nurse at the hospital working with children with Polio was uplifting & very inspirational, she had spunk & wouldn't back down to Ruth, meanwhile she had the support of her best friend Gina we read letters sent to Gina about Tess unhappy Marriage Henry disappearing during the lonely nights leaving Tess wondering what he was Doing. Tess had enough to worry about with Henrys Mother & Siblings against her she had the towns folk as well. There was a lot of sadness in this book which pulled at my heart strings but a lot of happy moments as well This was my favourite novel by Diane Chamberlain to date & am beginning to like The Historical Fiction Genre it is so interesting as well as intriguing, although it also depends on the prose & if it appeals to me. 5+ another 5 stars was just outstanding.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 4.5 stars From the pages of history in North Carolina, during the war years and the turbulent times after, comes a new tale from bestselling author Diane Chamberlain. The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally arresting novel of lies, betrayal, loss, discrimination, love and life. Twenty three year old nursing student Tess DeMello is the starring figure in Diane Chamberlain’s latest release, The Stolen Marriage. Tess is a young woman who has a perfect life all plan *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 4.5 stars From the pages of history in North Carolina, during the war years and the turbulent times after, comes a new tale from bestselling author Diane Chamberlain. The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally arresting novel of lies, betrayal, loss, discrimination, love and life. Twenty three year old nursing student Tess DeMello is the starring figure in Diane Chamberlain’s latest release, The Stolen Marriage. Tess is a young woman who has a perfect life all planned out. Once she completes her training to become a registered nurse, she plans to marry Vincent, a young man she has been promised to since childhood. Her plans are derailed when Vincent, a physician, finds a work posting that will take him away from Tess for a number of weeks. A spur of the moment trip with her good friend Gina to Washington DC, sees the two girls left unchaperoned. They are wined and dined by two gentlemen and at the close of the evening, Tess lets her inhibitions go with disastrous results. Her dalliance with Henry Craft is enough for Tess to have to make the heartbreaking decision to break off her engagement with Vincent. She then makes the tough move from her home in Baltimore, to Hickory, in North Carolina. In Hickory, a town with strained race relations and suffering from the impact of the war, Tess finds hostility. Her new husband Henry, although kind to her, seems to be withholding much from her and she cannot get close to him. Feeling increasingly ensnared in an unfulfilling marriage, Tess realises she has made a huge mistake. When polio makes its strong presence felt in Hickory, it offers Tess a scapegoat. She can finally feel meaning in her life again, as her nursing skills at put to the test. As Tess becomes more involved in helping the victims of polio in Hickory, Henry withdraws even further from his wife. Tess is determined to get to the bottom of Henry’s secrets, in order to save her life from further ruin. I am a new fan to the work of Diane Chamberlain, the popular author of twenty five novels. The opportunity to read a historical fiction title, which is one of my favourite genres, was a welcome one and my experience reading The Stolen Marriage was very good. So good, that I plan to make some room in my schedule to read some books from Chamberlain’s twenty five novel strong back catalogue. My interest in this novel was soon piqued by the historical backdrop to this book. Although I have read many books based on the World II era, rarely have they been set in the US. The Stolen Marriage was very interesting, it is a book that shines a light on the American experience of the war years and the era immediately after. Chamberlain’s novel zones in on what life was like specifically in two locations, Baltimore and North Carolina. In Baltimore, we learn about Tess’ heritage as a young Italian girl. When the action moves to the small town of Hickory, in North Carolina, we get a solid impression of the issues and tensions that were rife in this location at this point in time. The historical backdrop allows Chamberlain to explore race relations, prejudice, class differences, marriage laws and the focal subject of the novel, the rise in polio. The inclusion of all these very interesting issues, highlights the extent of research Chamberlain has undertaken. Tess DeMello, the leading lady of Chamberlain’s novel, was an agreeable protagonist. I was immediately drawn to Tess and I admired her, especially the heartbreaking choices and situations she was faced with. She is also a determined young woman, who defied her husband to fulfil her dreams to practice nursing. When Tess finally gets the chance to put her skills into practice, she seems to take flight and this was a pleasure to read. Tess is also very human and the mistakes she makes and learns from makes her all the more authentic. The leading men in this novel, Vincent and Henry, have much to add to the novel interest wise and I enjoyed the storylines they were involved in. Henry’s story in particular was a great source of intrigue. My guess as to what Henry was hiding was way off the mark, but it certainly added a late extra twist to this full bodied narrative. There are some supporting characters featured in The Stolen Marriage that I liked very much, such as Tess’ maid Hattie, friend and confidant Gina, as well as Reverend Sam. The Reverend’s involvement with Tess allows Chamberlain to sneak in an extra paranormal based side story thread, which was interesting to follow. There were characters I disliked very much as well. These included Henry’s mother Ruth, sister Lucy, Henry’s admirer Violet and the judgemental townsfolk of Hickory. Despite my dislike for these characters, they played a key part in the interesting proceedings of The Stolen Marriage. The Stolen Marriage concludes on a much anticipated happier note, after all the secrets, tragedy, death, grief, difficult choices and missed opportunities. Love and retribution after a hard life lived conquers, as the lead of the novel, Tess, finally makes it to the other side with a brighter future ahead of her. I did appreciate that the author of The Stolen Marriage, revisited the characters years after the main events of the novel, to reveal a little about their changed lives. I was just as pleased to see the inclusion of an author’s notes section, which provides some extra information on the historical grounding for this novel. From the last pages of this book, we learn how this story was inspired by true events, in a real town and the research Chamberlain undertook to bringing this story to life was all encompassing. I have no qualms in highly recommending The Stolen Marriage, it really was a very good read and marks a great introduction to the work of Diane Chamberlain. *I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    Diane Chamberlain is one of my favourite authors and I was delighted to receive a copy of The Stolen Marriage. I really love this book set in America during the Second World War. Tess a newly qualified nurse goes for a weekend away with her friend, after a few drinks too many she makes a mistake that alters the course of her life. An excellent historical novel. I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Crumb

    A Stolen Marriage. Historical Fiction (1940s) Stolen Time. Stolen Identity. Stolen husband. All off these were things that were stolen from Tess De Mello because of one fateful - and very drunk - mistake. A stupid decision. One that will alter the course of her life forever. Sometimes when you start reading a book, you know, almost immediately and in the depth of your bones that this book will be special. In fact, I couldn't put Chamberlain's The Stolen Marriage down. Different people use different A Stolen Marriage. Historical Fiction (1940s) Stolen Time. Stolen Identity. Stolen husband. All off these were things that were stolen from Tess De Mello because of one fateful - and very drunk - mistake. A stupid decision. One that will alter the course of her life forever. Sometimes when you start reading a book, you know, almost immediately and in the depth of your bones that this book will be special. In fact, I couldn't put Chamberlain's The Stolen Marriage down. Different people use different qualifiers to define what a 'good book' is to them. To me, the markings of a good novel is one that you simply can't put down. And, while this book was certainly unputdownable it possessed many other gifts to merit this five star rating. Mainly, the protagonist, Tess. She was a true heroine that defied her time. She went against the grain. As mentioned previously, The Stolen Marriage took place during the 1940s, in a time where a woman's place was in the home. Tess wanted so much more for herself. Also, the peripheral characters, while not all likable, definitely helped shape and mold the plot. Even if you aren't a historical fiction fan, I'd highly recommend giving this a read. Some historical fiction is heavily rooted in historical events, while others merely utilize a given time period as the setting of their novel. In The Stolen Marriage, the latter rings true. I didn't want to turn the last page and disengage myself from these characters. But alas, as with all good books, they have to end. And then the search begins for the next great gem.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    THE STOLEN MARRIAGE by bestselling author Diane Chamberlain is a historical fiction novel set in the 1940's in America during the Second World War. The story opens first in Baltimore and then later in the town of Hickory, North Carolina. I have to admit I normally shy away from historical fiction, but I went out on a limb, and decided to try something different, and I really enjoyed it. Tess DeMello, the protagonist in this novel, makes a mistake that will ultimately alter the course of her life THE STOLEN MARRIAGE by bestselling author Diane Chamberlain is a historical fiction novel set in the 1940's in America during the Second World War. The story opens first in Baltimore and then later in the town of Hickory, North Carolina. I have to admit I normally shy away from historical fiction, but I went out on a limb, and decided to try something different, and I really enjoyed it. Tess DeMello, the protagonist in this novel, makes a mistake that will ultimately alter the course of her life forever. It’s 1944 and 23- year -old Tess is now pregnant and all alone. She gives up her career as a nurse, and ends her engagement to Vincent, a doctor, her soulmate. Tess agrees to marry the baby’s father, Henry and move to the small town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess is not welcome in Hickory. She is regarded as an outsider. But soon after their marriage, Tess‘s new husband changes and starts staying out late and become distant. Tess soon realises she’s stuck in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out. When the polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the people group together to build a polio hospital. Against her husband’s wishes, Tess goes to work at the polio hospital. It is there that she finds purpose and meaning to her life once again. Not only does she work to save her patients’ lives, she also discovers the truth behind Henry’s strange behaviour. Stolen Marriage is written in first person from Tess’s perspective. The characters were well developed and the story read more like a drama, with life’s lessons laying out on a canvas. A novel of mistakes and their consequences. Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for my digital copy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    I received this book in exchange for an honest review from St. Martin's Press and NetGalley. I'll start by saying that I had really high hopes for this book. I really enjoyed Necessary Lies and was hoping this book would be just as good if not better. I struggled with this book. One thing I struggled with was that almost everyone is giving this book high ratings and I thought "Is it me?" but I realize that not every book is for everyone and what one person may feel that the book he/she is reading I received this book in exchange for an honest review from St. Martin's Press and NetGalley. I'll start by saying that I had really high hopes for this book. I really enjoyed Necessary Lies and was hoping this book would be just as good if not better. I struggled with this book. One thing I struggled with was that almost everyone is giving this book high ratings and I thought "Is it me?" but I realize that not every book is for everyone and what one person may feel that the book he/she is reading is a masterpiece, while another person may have a hard time finishing that particular book. As I mentioned I received this book in exchange for an honest review and honestly, I thought this book was okay at best. It's 1944 and Tess is engaged to Vincent, a man that she is engaged to and madly in love with. She can't wait to be his wife and live happily ever after. Vincent is a doctor who is passionate about his work, when he goes to Chicago to help fight the polio epidemic. He keeps changing the date he will be coming home as he is passionate about his work. Tess naturally misses him while he is away but is also secretly upset that he keeps changing his return date. When her best friend Gina offers to take her on a trip out of town, Tess jumps on the opportunity. This is a chance to take her mind off how much she misses Vincent and to have a little fun with her firend. When they arrive they learn they will be staying in a home with 2 other people - 2 men whom they do not know. Too much alcohol, bad choices and poor judgement come into play. That one night changes Tess's life forever. She abruptly ends her engagement to Vincent and informs everyone that she is getting married to Henry and moving to North Carolina. She really knows nothing about Henry, his life or his family. She is not welcomed with open arms and keeps hearing that "Henry is not the man you think he is" That would definitely get my attention. A tragic accident occurs which further alienates Tess from Henry's family and the town. She is unhappy, not in love and finding out that her husband has secrets. Tess who studied to be a nurse also feels as though she herself needs to help with the polio epidemic and eventually begins to help out at her local hospital where she is re-connected with someone from her past. So I am in the minority with this book. What didn't I like. For starters, I feel that Henry took advantage of Tess. She was in no position to give consent and the scene felt more like a rape to me. Also, if Tess knew Vincent all of her life, why did she not go to him and explain to him what happened? Could not all of this misery have been avoided? I do realize that if this happened there would not be a book but I just found that I wanted to take and shake most of the characters. The description of the book sounded so good to me but while I was reading I found that I had to force myself at times to keep going. As I mentioned I saw so many high ratings and thought "what am I missing?" This book just was not for me. It was well written and obviously appealed to a lot of people but not so much for me. I will definitely read more from this Author as I did really enjoy Necessary Lies. See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    ★★★★¼ The Stolen Marriage was a heavily engaging read that I found very hard to put down. Diane Chamberlain again delivers fictional characters within a historical fiction storyline to showcase a very nonfiction event: In the summer of 1944, in Hickory, North Carolina, a makeshift emergency hospital was conceived and put into operation within an unbelievable timeframe of 54 hours by volunteers to treat an overflow of polio patients during an epidemic. (For more information on this event, search " ★★★★¼ The Stolen Marriage was a heavily engaging read that I found very hard to put down. Diane Chamberlain again delivers fictional characters within a historical fiction storyline to showcase a very nonfiction event: In the summer of 1944, in Hickory, North Carolina, a makeshift emergency hospital was conceived and put into operation within an unbelievable timeframe of 54 hours by volunteers to treat an overflow of polio patients during an epidemic. (For more information on this event, search "Miracle of Hickory" and tons of articles will pop up.) The historical setting in this book allowed Ms. Chamberlain to showcase additional elements to include race, gender, social class, spirituality, and family dynamic issues, all which created palpable conflict for the characters. There is a lot going on in this book but it worked for me and created an experience that I invested myself in effortlessly. Throughout the majority of the story, there is a subtle mystery in regards to the heroine's husband that I found painfully predictable but that could have been an initial lucky guess on my part that made the clues stand out more than they otherwise would have - not sure. However, there is a twist later on that got me good I have to admit. The Stolen Marriage will certainly be joining my list of Diane Chamberlain favorites. Check it out! My favorite quote: "You can tell a lot about a person by the way a child takes to them."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tooter

    3.5 stars. I was initially attracted to this book because of the setting, Hickory, North Carolina, where my sister currently lives. The historical aspect of the book was interesting and seemed to be well researched. While I enjoyed the storyline for the most part, I found it to be a bit predictable and “cookie-cutter”. I liked the overall theme and message of the social situations addressed in the book but didn't necessarily like how it was handled.  Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy! 3.5 stars. I was initially attracted to this book because of the setting, Hickory, North Carolina, where my sister currently lives. The historical aspect of the book was interesting and seemed to be well researched. While I enjoyed the storyline for the most part, I found it to be a bit predictable and “cookie-cutter”. I liked the overall theme and message of the social situations addressed in the book but didn't necessarily like how it was handled.  Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy!

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