Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Beauty & Lace Book Club Book Review: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain 

This was such an engrossing read for me.
The story is told in the first person from 23 year-old Tess DeMello. She lives in Little Italy, Baltimore with her mum, (her only family) and dreams of becoming a nurse. The year is 1944, and Tess is engaged to Vincent, whom she has known for most of her life, and who lives next door and is studying to become a doctor.,
But after a series of events that take place on a trip away with her best friend Gina, Tess makes the decision to end her engagement and marry the mysterious Henry ‘Hank’ Kraft, a wealthy businessman and owner of a furniture factory. She reluctantly moves to North Carolina, in the town of Hickory where Hank lives..
Her dream of becoming a nurse is put on the back burner as Tess tries to fit in to Hank’s life. The townspeople treat Tess with suspicion, and I felt for her as she struggled to form friendships with them, and with Hank’s sister Lucy, and his mother.
Hank is often busy with work, returning home late, and leaving early. Their marriage lacks passion and love.
But Tess shows her resilience and determination, getting her nursing degree and adapting to the changes she is faced with.
A polio epidemic strikes Hickory, and Tess is amazed that the townspeople put together a polio treatment hospital in just three days. She convinces Hank to let her volunteer there, and loves being able to help others.
But Hank’s mysterious behaviours leave Tess questioning just who she has married, and she will stop at nothing to discover the truth.

I really enjoyed this novel. There are some great characters, but Tess was my favourite. I also liked her best friend Gina, and would’ve liked to have her featured more, particularly towards the end of the novel.
There is a lot that I didn’t mention in my review so as not to spoil it for other readers, but this is a book that is definitely well written and tells a beautiful story, so I would highly recommend it.
I enjoyed reading about the polio hospital, and surprised to read in the author’s notes that it was a real-life event. The author has researched this part of history very well, and it is evident in The Stolen Marriage.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia and Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read and review.

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