Today’s feature is a NetGalley ARC: The Stolen Marriage, by Diane Chamberlain: release date, 10/3/17. 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.
Intro: (June 1944 – Prologue – Hickory, North Carolina)
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. Even my new sister-in-law regarded me with disdain. When Henry told me Lucy was just a few years younger than me, I thought, How wonderful! We can be friends. But we were not anywhere close to being friends.
I was making my bed one bright June morning when I heard footsteps in the hall outside the room I shared with Henry. Lucy pushed open the door, walking into the room without knocking, and I tightened the sash of my robe. Neither Henry nor I were happy about living with his mother and sister. In a month or so, we would move into our own home. I hoped that would make things better. Our marriage. My relationship with my mother-in-law, Ruth. My heavy heart. I hadn’t been happy in so long. I doubted a new house was going to fix what was wrong with me.
Teaser: I sat still for a long time after hanging up the phone, wishing I could miraculously change the last few minutes. Hattie was at the store and I was glad she wasn’t home. I dreaded telling her. (55%).
Synopsis: 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 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?
What do you think? Would you keep reading?