The Stolen Marriage: A Novel

The Stolen Marriage: A Novel

by Diane Chamberlain

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250087287
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/14/2018
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 50,403
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

DIANE CHAMBERLAIN is the international bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including The Dream Daughter, Necessary Lies, and The Silent Sister. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

AUGUST 1943

Little Italy, Baltimore, Maryland

"A big piece for the doctor," my mother said as she passed the plate to Vincent across our cramped dining room table. She held the plate in her left hand — her right hand was still a bit weak from the small stroke she'd suffered a few years ago — and the plate sagged under the weight of a slice of her Italian crème cake. She'd been stockpiling our rationed sugar for weeks to make that cake.

"Thanks, Mom." Vincent smiled at my mother. He'd called her Mom for as long as I could remember, something that pleased my mother no end. She adored him as much as I did. He was the son she'd never had. I called Vincent's parents, who now sat across the table from me, Mimi and Pop. The Russos lived next door to us in our Little Italy neighborhood. Our identical brick row houses had identical marble stoops and when I was very small and playing on the sidewalk, I had to concentrate hard to remember which house was mine and which was Vincent's. Our houses were nearly identical inside as well, the rooms filled with crucifixes, statues of Mary, and framed paintings of Jesus's sacred heart, as well as with the scent of tomato gravy and sweet sausage.

On this day, we were celebrating both my twenty-third birthday and the completion of Vincent's hospital residency at Johns Hopkins. I'd known Vincent from the time I was in the cradle, and I'd loved him madly since I was a teenager but I had to admit that even I felt a new attraction to him the first time I saw him in his white coat, Vincent Russo M.D. emblazoned on the pocket, a stethoscope slung around his neck. That white coat set off his dark good looks: his thick hair with the slight widow's peak. His wide white smile. His nearly straight nose, just a hint of the aquiline shape that was so prominent in his father's face. We'd been engaged for the last year, and in May, I would become his bride. We'd been planning our future together for a very long time. We knew where we would live: a younger, fresher part of Little Italy, close but not too close to our parents. We would have four children. Both of us had grown up as only children — a rarity in an Italian neighborhood — and we most definitely did not want that lonely existence for a child of ours. With only the rhythm method to rely on, we knew we might end up with many more than four, but that was fine. We fantasized that someday he would have his own pediatric practice and I would be his nurse. In a few months, I'd graduate from nursing school, take my licensing exam, and finally be able to call myself a registered nurse, a career I'd longed for since I was ten years old when my mother developed diabetes and a nurse taught me how to administer her insulin shots. Mom had been perfectly capable of giving herself her own injections, but she'd wanted to plant that seed in me, guiding me toward the career she hoped I'd pick. It worked. Nursing was my passion. How I'd handle being both a nurse and a mother to four-plus children, I didn't know, but I was excited to find out.

"Have you decided on your dress yet, Theresa?" Mimi asked as she swallowed a piece of cake. Like her husband, she had a soft, slight Italian accent. Theirs had been an arranged marriage of sorts. When Pop came over as a teenager from Sicily, he knew the daughter of an old family friend had arrived the year before and was waiting for him. I couldn't imagine marrying someone I barely knew, yet they were devoted to each other. My parents, on the other hand, had been born and raised in Little Italy and met at a dance. My father died when I was four and I barely remembered him. Mimi and Pop had taken my mother and me under their generous wings after his death.

"I can't decide between the two dresses we loved," I said, "but it's still so early." Mimi and my mother had been with me when I tried on the dresses. If I picked one out now, I'd have to be careful not to gain an ounce before May. I wanted Gina Farinola, my closest girlfriend, to go with me to help me make the final decision. Then we needed to find a maid-of-honor dress for her.

"You can't go wrong with either of them," Mimi said.

"I like the one with the little rosettes, Tess," Mom said. She leaned across the table to tuck a strand of my hair behind my ear. I'd inherited her thick, unruly, nearly black hair, the only difference being that her hair was now streaked with silver.

"Oh, the one with the rosettes was beautiful," Mimi agreed.

I caught the smile that passed between Vincent and his father as the girl talk continued. Those two handsome, dark-eyed, dark-haired men stayed at the table, smoking cigarettes and bickering about the Baltimore Orioles, while Mom, Mimi, and I began clearing the dishes and carrying them into the kitchen. Vincent was leaving most of the wedding plans up to me. The wedding would be small. We planned to invite only thirty people to the reception, which would be held in one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants. We couldn't afford much more than that, but I wouldn't have cared if only our families were present. It was the marriage I longed for, not the wedding.

My mother was washing the dishes and Mimi and I were drying when Vincent walked into the small kitchen. "Can I steal Tess away from you ladies?" he asked, his hand already at my waist.

"Of course." Mimi pulled the dishtowel from me. "Go on now." She gave me a little shove toward the door. "You two have fun."

Vincent took my hand and led me through the living room and toward the front door. "Let's go for a walk," he said. Outside, he put his arm around me as we turned left on the sidewalk. Vincent's touch had been electrifying me for years. The first time I'd felt that lightning bolt pass through me when he touched me, I was fifteen years old and he was nineteen and home from college. I'd been trying unsuccessfully to change the needle on the Victrola in the Russos' living room. Vincent had moved me aside, gently, his hands on my rib cage, and my legs went soft in the knees. He'd replaced the needle and turned to me.

"What do you want to hear?" he'd asked. I couldn't respond for the buzzing in my ears. My mind was suddenly mush and my body a solid mass of nerve endings. His smile told me he knew exactly how I felt. Then he asked me to a movie. That was the beginning of everything. Seven years we'd been together now. Seven long, wonderful, love-filled, and sometimes very frustrating years. We wanted more of each other than we could have. I looked forward to the day when we could finally sleep in the same room. The same bed. At last we would be lovers, a thought that filled me with a hunger for him. It was both amazing to me as well as a source of pride that we'd been able to wait this long. We hadn't even come close to making love because Vincent didn't want that temptation. He'd grown up expecting to become a priest, so it made sense to me that he would never pressure me to cross that line before we were married. Gina teased me about it. She and her boyfriend Mac made love before he joined the army and she thought Vincent and I were crazy for waiting. She didn't think sleeping together was a sin. Gina didn't think much was a sin, actually.

"Something's come up that I need to talk to you about," Vincent said now, lowering his arm from my shoulders and taking my hand as we walked. His tone, which had been playful all through dinner and our birthday-and-residency celebration, was suddenly serious and I wondered if I should be worried. My biggest fear was that he would be called up for service. He had a minor problem with his heart — a murmur, his doctor called it — and so far, that had kept him out, a fact he felt guilty about. The heart murmur caused him no trouble at all, thank God. "Why should I get to stay safe at home when so many others have to fight?" he would say. Selfishly, though, I was happy he couldn't be drafted.

"Do I need to be worried?" I asked now.

He gave my hand a squeeze, and in the golden evening light, I saw him smile. "No," he said. "You just need to be a bit ... flexible."

"I can do that," I said, happy just to be holding his hand.

We walked past the row houses on our block, several of them bearing the red-bordered blue star flags in the windows, indicating that a family member was serving in the armed forces. One of the houses had two blue stars and one gold. It was sobering, walking past that house. This was a costly war.

The air was warm and silky on my bare arms as we headed toward the place we always went to talk: St. Leo's. Our church. The hub of Little Italy. Even as kids, Vincent and I had had whispered conversations in St. Leo's. It was where we made our first communions and confirmations and it was a source of comfort for both of us. It was also where we would become husband and wife.

We reached the church and, once inside, sat down in the last pew, still holding hands. I breathed in the scent of musk and candles and incense that seemed to emanate from the cold stone walls and the smooth wood of the pews. It was a scent I always equated with comfort and safety. As much as I loved St. Leo's, though, I knew it meant more to Vincent than it did to me. While I felt the comfort of knowing I belonged in this church where people loved me and cared for me, Vincent felt something deeper here. Something spiritual. He'd tried to explain it to me, but it was the sort of thing you couldn't force another person to feel — that intense closeness to God. One of the priests at St. Leo's had recognized Vincent's brilliance in math and science early on and encouraged him to go into medicine instead of the priesthood. "There are many ways to serve God," he'd told him. I would be eternally grateful to that priest.

There were only a few other people in the church this evening. They sat or kneeled in the pews much closer to the altar. A few of them were at the side of the church, lighting candles. Since the war began, another bank of candles had been added. We had so many young men to pray for these days.

I leaned my head on Vincent's shoulder. "So," I said softly. "What do I need to be flexible about?" "There's been a small change in my plans for the next few weeks," he said. "I need to go to Chicago for a little while."

I lifted my head to look at him. "Chicago? Why?"

"There's an infantile paralysis epidemic there," he said. "They're asking for doctors to volunteer."

"Ah," I said, understanding. "You're thinking about your cousin Tony." Vincent's much older cousin had contracted infantile paralysis — polio — as a teenager. He was in his forties now and he wore braces on his legs and needed crutches to help him walk.

"Yes," he said. "I guess I'm a little more sensitive to polio than another doctor might be, but I'd want to help anyway."

That was Vincent. Always first to jump in when someone needed help. "There are so many kids living in poverty in this country," he'd told me once. "I'll devote at least part of my practice to helping them." I had the feeling we would never be rich, but that was fine.

"How long do you think you'll be gone?" I asked.

"I'm hoping only a couple of weeks," he said. "These epidemics tend to happen during the summer and run their course by fall."

I hated that frightening disease. Every summer, it seemed to set a different part of the country in its sights, attacking the children and leaving them horribly ill, sometimes paralyzed, for months or years or even the rest of their lives. As a nursing student, I'd seen a couple of children who'd been devastated by it.

Vincent let go of my hand and put his arm around my shoulders and I snuggled closer. "I don't want to be away from you any longer than that," he said.

A couple of weeks. That sounded like a lifetime to me right then and I felt like protesting, but I needed to support him. "I'll be fine," I said. "I wish I was done with nursing school so I could go with you to help." I had another week in my summer program and the fall semester would start shortly after.

"That would have been perfect." He squeezed my shoulders. "I'll miss you," he said, "but I'll be back in no time."

"I'll be fine," I said again. I was determined to mean it.

CHAPTER 2

Vincent's two weeks in Chicago stretched into three, then four and I began the final semester of my nursing program. We'd never been apart for so long. He was desperately needed there, he wrote in his letters, which arrived a couple of times each week. They were short letters, his handwriting sloppy, hurried. He rarely called. The boardinghouse where he was staying had only one phone for eight men to share. Plus, he was so busy. He promised to be home by early October, but I was beginning to doubt his promises. Those few times I spoke with him, I heard something new in his voice. A different sort of energy and excitement. He couldn't stop talking about the children he was seeing and the work he was doing. And he was falling in love with Chicago, he said. Would I ever consider living there? That sort of talk worried me. Chicago? Leaving Baltimore and our families had never been part of our plan.

As for me, I'd talk about my challenging classes and how Mimi and Pop were doing and the plans for our wedding. I'd talk about loving him. About our future, when we would work together in his pediatric practice. About the children we would have. He'd make a gallant effort to respond to what I was saying, but after a sentence or two he'd ease the conversation back to his work. I knew he was committed to me. I knew he wanted a future with me, and yet I felt something like impending doom during those weeks apart. I tried to remind myself that many of my friends, Gina included, had boyfriends thousands of miles away who faced danger and death every single day. My fiancé was safe. How dare I want him even closer to me when he was doing such important work and taking so much satisfaction from it?

The day before he was to come home, he called again. From the moment he said "Hi, Tess," I knew what he was going to tell me.

"I have to stay a bit longer, darling," he said. "I'm sorry."

Words failed me, and he rushed on.

"I've gotten involved in some research here," he said. "You know, into the cause of infantile paralysis? And the various forms of treatment? It's so important. You understand, don't you?"

"You said you'd be home tomorrow." I heard the slightest break in my voice and hoped he hadn't noticed. I would not be a baby.

"I know, and I'm sorry, but this isn't the sort of thing that can be put off," he said. "The work has to happen while the polio virus is still active in the area. Plus most of the other personnel have had to go back to their jobs, but since I'm not practicing yet, I'm free to stay."

"What if our wedding were tomorrow?" I tested. "Would you still stay there?"

He hesitated as though he couldn't believe I'd actually asked that question, and I felt ashamed for doubting him.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I know you'd come home."

"Of course I would."

"Maybe I could come there? I have the weekend off, plus my Monday classes don't start till afternoon."

Again that hesitation. I squeezed the phone cord, waiting tensely for his answer.

"Honey," he said. "Do you know how long that would take you? First, it's nearly impossible to get a train reservation with the way they're moving the troops around. Even if you could get a reservation, you'd have to spend twenty hours on the train. And once you got here, I don't have any place for you to stay. I'm in a boardinghouse, remember? Plus I'll be working all hours of the day and into the night."

For the first time in our long relationship, I wondered if he might be seeing someone else. The thought felt like a knife in my chest. He couldn't be, though. Not Vincent. We'd been apart too long. I was losing my memory of who he truly was. I was letting myself get bitter.

"All right," I said, then before I could stop myself, I added, "I'd ask when you'll be coming home, but it doesn't really matter what you say, does it? You'll just change the date as it approaches."

"Tess," he chided. "That's not like you."

"I know." He was right. It wasn't like me, but I couldn't help but feel hurt that I seemed to be last of his priorities.

"Look, I need to get off, darling," he said. "Someone else wants to use this phone. Give me two more weeks here, all right? I promise, I'll come home then, no matter what's going on here. Just remember that you and I have our whole lives together. Ten years from now, you'll look back on these few weeks and laugh at how insecure you sound. Keep your chin up for me now, all right, sweetheart?"

"All right," I said after a moment. "I love you."

"I love you too," he said, "and don't you ever forget it."

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Stolen Marriage"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Diane Chamberlain.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Stolen Marriage: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Diane Chamberlain never disappoints. Her character development skills are unrivaled. You actually begin to feel like these characters can be living down the street. This novel has many twists and turns that you may think you have figured out until you reach the very end. It's a book that will be hard to out down. This, and all other Diane Chamberlain novels, are highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stayed up half the night reading this..couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well paced (EXCEPT FOR ENDING) Well written, unique topic with a a few twists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book, as always! While I was very frustrated with some characters in the beginning, there was quite a few surprises!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me intrigued the entire story. Great twists!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not stop reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I WILL PROMISE YOU 1,000 TIMES THAT THERE IS NO WAY IN HEAVEN OR HELL THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO STOP READY THIS BOOK. I'LL EVEN PAY FOR IT IF YOU CAN'T FINISH IT. LOL. PLEASE READ IT IT'S ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story- I love her books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book with a little history mixed in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!
Anonymous 15 days ago
This book was unexpected. I am a fan of the standard romance and this book was a departure from that formula. I was uncomfortable with all that the heroine had to endure, and some moments felt undeniably sad and hopeless. But I was rewarded with the redemption at the end. Not your typical romance, no, but worth it overall.
Anonymous 3 months ago
She us one if my favorite authors! Another unbelievable book, i hate when they end
Anonymous 10 months ago
Really good book, fast and great read
GranbyLibraryBookClub More than 1 year ago
Stolen Marriage A gut-wrenching story, taking place during the polio epidemic of 1940s, The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain asks the question, should one mistake cost you the rest of your life? Our book group had the pleasure of "Skypeing" with Ms. Chamberlain and we found her just as impressive and easy going as this complex and tragic novel. Our group enjoyed this page turner that left us on the edge of our seats and were enlightened by the events surrounding the polio disease and what life was like in the United States before the vaccine.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this novel. I loved all the historical elements the novel held in it, the twists and turns, the characters and I especially loved how Tess tried to maintain who she was, with all the excitement that was happening in her world. Right from the beginning, the novel took off and it continued right to the very end, there was never a lull. Rich in the history, laden with fantastic characters and situated in an area where favoritism happened on many levels. The year was 1944 and 23-year-old Tess went on a trip with her best friend, Gina. Once they reached their destination, the plans had been changed and the two friends, headed out for dinner. Tess and Gina had quite the night, Tess’s behavior was unlike her normal studious, conscious self. Tess finds herself pregnant, her fiancé, Vincent is not the father. That one-night out has changed everything. Locating the father of her baby, Tess agrees to marry him as that would be the proper thing to do for her baby. Vincent is no longer in the picture but Tess thinks of him constantly. Immediately, Tess seems to forget what her needs are and as Henry starts to take control of the situation, I am fearful of what might occur. Tess feels she can fit into his rich, strict family but when we meet Henry’s mother and the rest of the community, I think Tess has bitten off more than she can chew. Tess has a big heart and I loved how she didn’t fall into her role but rather she tried to maintain who she was and she saw individuals for who they were. Their marriage is strange, his family is unusual, the only people I, myself, feel comfortable with, are working in the kitchen and I think Tess feels this too. When polio hits the region, Tess feels the need to do her part and when she stood up strong, I was cheering for her. The novel is filled with wonderful emotional moments: there were times that I was smiling, laughing, angry, frustrated and yes, times where tears were escaping from my eyes. Where would this novel end as Tess battles her way through Hickory? Excellent historical fiction novel that I highly recommend.
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Reader_KY More than 1 year ago
Diane Chamberlain never disappoints! She has penned another great book that you won't want to miss. The Stolen Marriage takes place in the forties in Hickory North Carolina during the polio epidemic. It's a unique tale steeped in forbidden love, betrayal, loss, friendship and forgiveness. You will get totally absorbed in this book and not want it to end. I loved it and will definitely be recommending it to all my reader friends.
Jaruwa More than 1 year ago
I’m not sure “The Stolen Marriage” is an accurate title. Stolen by whom? It should be called, “The Discarded Marriage” because it was the shame and weakness of the protagonist that caused the destruction of her hoped-for future. If only she had trusted that even her worst transgressions could be forgiven by loved ones, she could have prevented all this trouble. Baltimore, Maryland in the 1940s. Women were expected to “save themselves for marriage” and the repercussions of not doing so, or at least being caught not doing so, were severe. Still, I found it hard to believe that a mother who previously had a close relationship with her daughter would react so cruelly. Rural South Carolina in the 1940s. Not a comfortable place to be unless you’re white, well off, male, Christian, straight and detest interracial mingling. This story depicts the lives of people not in this privileged category, and some of the problems they faced. However, compared to the historical facts, it seemed a bit sugarcoated. In many ways, life was actually much worse in that time and place for many people. The terrible consequences of being caught breaking social rules were hinted at, and the desperate attempts to hide these secrets were depicted, but the brutal realities of the possible consequences were not adequately portrayed. There was one exception. The heartbreaking toll of the polio epidemic was fairly well described. This is the part of the book that I liked the most. The author seems to have researched this historic event well and includes many interesting facts. Although I enjoyed reading this, it never seemed realistic to me. It was fun to read but gave me the impression of a Disney version of the truth. I prefer more realism even if it is disturbing. I also have mixed feelings about books that combine historical facts with fantasy, unless the author makes clear which is which. That said, it was an enjoyable read, and kept my attention throughout, and the descriptions of the polio epidemic were enlightening. Note: I received an advance copy of the ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Jaruwa More than 1 year ago
I’m not sure “The Stolen Marriage” is an accurate title. Stolen by whom? It should be called, “The Discarded Marriage” because it was the shame and weakness of the protagonist that caused the destruction of her hoped-for future. If only she had trusted that even her worst transgressions could be forgiven by loved ones, she could have prevented all this trouble. Baltimore, Maryland in the 1940s. Women were expected to “save themselves for marriage” and the repercussions of not doing so, or at least being caught not doing so, were severe. Still, I found it hard to believe that a mother who previously had a close relationship with her daughter would react so cruelly. Rural South Carolina in the 1940s. Not a comfortable place to be unless you’re white, well off, male, Christian, straight and detest interracial mingling. This story depicts the lives of people not in this privileged category, and some of the problems they faced. However, compared to the historical facts, it seemed a bit sugarcoated. In many ways, life was actually much worse in that time and place for many people. The terrible consequences of being caught breaking social rules were hinted at, and the desperate attempts to hide these secrets were depicted, but the brutal realities of the possible consequences were not adequately portrayed. There was one exception. The heartbreaking toll of the polio epidemic was fairly well described. This is the part of the book that I liked the most. The author seems to have researched this historic event well and includes many interesting facts. Although I enjoyed reading this, it never seemed realistic to me. It was fun to read but gave me the impression of a Disney version of the truth. I prefer more realism even if it is disturbing. I also have mixed feelings about books that combine historical facts with fantasy, unless the author makes clear which is which. That said, it was an enjoyable read, and kept my attention throughout, and the descriptions of the polio epidemic were enlightening. Note: I received an advance copy of the ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love Diane Chamberlain's books and this one, of course, did not fail me!!! I felt so many emotions while reading this book. Tess who breaks off her engagement with the love of her life to marry Henry. Tess who I felt so sorry for and Henry who is hiding something (and all of my guesses were wrong - Ha!!) I only felt contempt. He stayed out all night, was hiding money and never touched his wife. Tess's mother-in-law is a contemptible, meddling old woman still stuck in the ideas of the old south and her sister-in-law dislikes her because Henry was supposed to marry her best friend. When Henry's secrets did come to light, the story floored me as, of course, I was definitely not expecting that. A wonderfully great story that I thoroughly enjoyed and was sad to leave. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a page tuner, couldnt put it down!
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
Diane Chamberlain is amazing. Her historical fictions novels take me back in time and pull me into the happenings of an era so long ago. I love the WWII era and The Stolen Marriage is set in that time. The research that she did to know about the polio hospitals, the rationing tickets, and the black/white relationships was so deep and perfect. She took a history lesson, twisted into a book that was impossible to put down. There is so much to be learned from her story yet it didn’t feel like I was learning, it felt like I was living it. The characters were wonderfully made. They had real reactions to the world around them, they had feelings that were what everyday people would feel, and they had relationships that made sense in the time they lived in. I liked that they were not predictable. There were times that I felt like I knew where the story was heading and then it would head down a different path and I’d think oh, yea I like this direction. Many times I was amazed at how developed the storyline and the characters were. Diane Chamberlain kept me on my toes, my mind always taking in the facts, and turning page after page. I recommend picking up your own copy right away. Thank you to William Rhino at St. Martin’s Press for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
bookluvr35SL More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Diane Chamberlain, and this newest book may be her best yet. The book is set in 1944, back when it was expected that you got married and had children, in that order. Having children out of wedlock was a scandal, and inter-racial and same-sex relationships were against the law. Tess breaks off the engagement with the love of her life, and rushes into a loveless marriage with Hank, who is heir to a furniture factory and one of the town's most prominant citizens. As Tess tries to come to grips with in-laws and townspeople that openly dislike her, she longs to be free of the constraining marriage. This book is definitely a must-read. It will keep you captivated from beginning to end.
MouseyBL More than 1 year ago
The story Tess DeMello was going to have the perfect life. She was going to marry the love of her life and get a nursing degree. Everything was going great, until Vincent took on volunteer work for a couple of months away from Tess and her entire world falls apart. Unable to stop herself from feeling sad about her future husband’s long absence and a niggling feeling that he might be seeing someone else – Gina takes Tess to Washington, where a drink too many leads Tess into sleeping with a mysterious stranger and falling pregnant. Unable to forgive herself and not knowing what to do, Tess breaks off her engagement and moves elsewhere in hopes of starting her life all over again. When the father of the child decides to do right by her and she marries the mysterious stranger and moves to his hometown of Hickory, North Caroline where she learns the struggle of racial tension and hardships imposed on the town by World War II. Thoughts Woah, just Woah you guys. I started this book last night, read it till the wee hours of the morning and when I woke up I had this book on my mind and had to finish it. I just finished it and still reeling from the emotional storyline. I was so angry with Tess at first and her mistakes because it started out badly and what looked like unforgivable, but ended up mounting until the character started growing from her mistakes into this strong-willed woman that has seen and been through so much hardship and heartbreak in such a short amount of time. This book dealt with a lot. It dealt with Tess and her loveless marriage, leaving a cloud of mystery hanging over the entire book by making you wonder what is going on the entire time. Just as I thought I had it figured out the author takes this in a completely different direction I was not expecting. Chamberlain also weaves so much history and everything that people have gone through during this time period with racial tension, laws, World War II, Polio, the building of the Polio hospital and all the sickness and heartbreak. It just added such a punch to the entire book and made it so riveting and hard to put down. I spent half the book feeling like Tess deserved what she got when she made the stupid choice of leaving the love of her life and the second half respecting her and everything she went through. I loved that Tess kept pushing and defying the customs and her husband and mother-in-law with the respect that came to her nursing license. I like that she took charge of that part of her life in order to make herself happy again. The author throws us into the action right away with the opening of the book and the book sits in two parts. The events leading to the accident and the events following the accident. You see a lot of character growth as the story goes on and it just completely blew my mind. I was sad, I was teary, I was enthralled in the story and the characters writing. It was so well written, the storytelling was remarkable and I was so drawn and flipping through the pages that I actually had a hard time saying goodbye to these characters. The pacing was perfect, I never felt like there was a dull moment. The author kept me glued to the pages wanting to know what was happening, what was going to happen to these characters. I loved how she incorporated this time period into these characters lives a I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
357800 More than 1 year ago
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....polio...the 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 all ends, but what enjoyment getting there. If you've never read a Diane Chamberlain novel, you're REALLY missing out! Highly Recommend!