The Stolen Marriage: A Novel

The Stolen Marriage: A Novel

by Diane Chamberlain


$5.98 $16.99 Save 65% Current price is $5.98, Original price is $16.99. You Save 65%. View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, February 26


The Stolen Marriage is a compelling historical novel from New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

“[A] well-crafted crime-tinged tale.” —Publishers Weekly

It’s 1944. A twenty-three-year-old nurse named Tess has just ended her engagement to the love of her life when she agrees to marry another man. She moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tensions and the hardships of World War II, where she soon realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, leaving her feeling alone and adrift—and terrified. As Tess tries to understand her surroundings and untangle the truth behind her husband’s mysterious ways, can she find the love—and the life—she was meant to have…before it’s too late?

“Combines the issue-driven style of Jodi Picoult [and] the romantic tension of Nora Roberts.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594807865
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/14/2018
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 29,466
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

DIANE CHAMBERLAIN is the bestselling author of more than twenty novels published in over eleven languages. Her books include The First Lie, Her Mother's Shadow, The Good Father, and Kiss River. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her shelties, Keeper and Cole.

Read an Excerpt



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.


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."


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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Stolen Marriage: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
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
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
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
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 9 months ago
Best book I've read in awhile. First one by this author but definitely not the last.
SouthernGirlBookaholic 11 months ago
I so love the way that this Author can get you so involved in a story that it's almost heartbreaking, finishing it! I'm loving historical reads more and more and with this set in 1944 during the height of World War 2 with a Polio outbreak just made this story what it is. You have this young woman named Tess who is a soon to be nurse with a fiance who is a doctor and the love of her life but he is away in a different state for months at a time, helping with the polio outbreak leaving Tess alone. It's only when Tess and her friend take a trip to Washington D.C. that she meets Henry who does the unthinkable later that night, that leaves her pregnant. With Tess not knowing how to tell her fiance the truth, she leaves home to travel to Henry's home town of Hickory to make a plan but not all is what it seems with Henry. As they quickly marry and Tess discovers that Henry is hiding something big from her but she doesn't understand what it is until a tragedy strikes the family not once but twice. Only when the polio epidemic comes to Hickory that Tess takes a stand for herself and learns the truth about Henry is the moment that Tess can finally find her happy ending after all. I can't spoil too much about this story but let's just say that it's worth losing sleep over to get to that bittersweet ending! At first, I admitted that I hated Henry for what he did to Tess but after learning what he is hiding from his mother just made me like him for the length that he went to in order to have his happy ending! I can only imagine what it was like during that time as they dealt with a war and a polio outbreak and it was pretty cool that Diane based this story on a real life polio camp in North Carolina. If anything, this book is perfect for anyone who loves historical reads with a taste of real life history! Thank You to Diane Chamberlain for this great historical read that made me love Diane's books even more!! I voluntarily reviewed this book from the Public Library. All thoughts and opinions are my very own!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn’t expect such a great story! Enjoyed every page. Never got bored. Loved it! Would definitely recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Writing is ok, just did not like the story. If you don't mind reading about all the mistakes one woman can make, then this book is for you. What a ditz the lead character was.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
onemused More than 1 year ago
DNF "The Stolen Marriage" follows a young woman in the 1940s who becomes pregnant and is forced into a marriage. Highly emotional and with heavy gravity, this book was a tough read- a little too hard for me to finish. I think this book is well written, but I could not get through the book. Tess is engaged to the love of her life, Vincent. Her parents and his parents are excited about the match. He is a physician and due to a heart murmur, unable to serve in the war. He has decided to help with the polio outbreak in Chicago and has left Tess alone. Tess is completing her training as a nurse and missing Vincent severely. Her friend decides to have her come on a trip to DC to her aunt's boarding house for a little fun and to get away. At the house, two business men are staying there, and Tess's friend basically forces her to dine with and hang out with them, feeding her alcohol. Tess is so drunk, she can barely move. Henry, one of the business men, kisses her- she tries to push him away, but is so drunk she is unable to say more than that she can't. He takes her virginity in a case of date rape. Tess leaves and spirals into depression. However, she finds out that this one time has left her pregnant and her life must change accordingly. This was ultimately a very hard read and so sad. Tess takes all the guilt and pain from this event on herself, as many victims do. The writing is fantastic, and you absolutely feel the depression and upset through the pages. This was not an easy read. As such, it was not really a book for me, and I found it a little too difficult to continue, so I did not finish halfway through. Please note that I received a copy through a goodreads giveaway. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year 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 More than 1 year ago
She us one if my favorite authors! Another unbelievable book, i hate when they end
Anonymous More than 1 year 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my testimony about the good work of a man who helped me. My life is back!!! After 8 years of marriage, my husband left me and left me with our three kids. I felt like my life was about to end, and was falling apart. Thanks to a spell caster called papa ork who i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet, I was searching for a good spell caster that can solve my problems. I came across series of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and so on.? There was one particular testimony I saw, it was about a woman called grace,she testified about how papa ork brought back her Ex lover in less than 72 hours and at the end of her testimony she drop papa ork e-mail address. After reading all these,I decided to give papa a try. I contacted him via email and explained my problem to him. In just 3 days, my husband came back to me. We solved our issues, and we are even happier than before. papa ork is really a talented and gifted man and i will not to stop publishing him because he is a wonderful man.? If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve that problem for you. Try the great papa ork today, he might be the answer to your problem.? Here's his contact: orkstarspell@gmail. com Contact him for the following: - If you want your ex back spell. - If you want a fertility spell. - HSV, HPV herbal remedy. - Make your Partner to Love you forever. - Help win court cases. - HIV/AIDS herbal treatment. - Revenge spell. - Goodluck spell. Contact him today on: orkstarspell@gmail. com ? you can also send a message to him on what's app + 2349039553523
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.