Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain (audio)

Title: The Stolen Marriage
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Narrator: Susan Bennett
Published: October 2017, Macmillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 14 hours 6 minutes / 384 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC E-copy via Netgalley; Finished copy via Publisher
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?

My thoughts: I've read quite a few books by Diane Chamberlain and find each one to be deeply engrossing, multi-layered stories that capture your attention right from the start and never let up. This latest one was certainly no exception, and having a historical aspect to it only added an extra dimension to an already fascinating tale.

I love how Diane has taken an actual event - an event I fully admit to knowing nothing about - and spun this amazing tale around it. This is historical fiction at it's best! Little did I know when I was reading this book that not only does the town of Hickory, NC actually exist, but that back in the 1940's they actually did build a polio hospital in 54 hours. How amazing is that? It just goes to show that when there is a dire need for something, people really do come together to help out! That's just human nature...always has been, always will be.

This book keeps you engaged from start to finish. There's the sense that all is not right with Tess's husband - the man that she is forced to marry after she makes the most dreadful mistake of her life. Henry Kraft might be doing the right thing for her, but he certainly doesn't love her, and his odd behavior is definitely puzzling to Tess. But just when I thought I had figured out what was going on with him...I was completely thrown off base - a few times! I totally didn't see where Diane was going with this story line and that's a good thing...I love being surprised!

I loved that Tess, though she had an uphill battle, kept pushing and defying what her husband and mother-in-law thought was "appropriate" behavior for her, especially when it came to her nursing license. She was bound and determined to work at that polio hospital and wasn't going to let anyone stop her...and she didn't. She might have given in to their demands early in the marriage, but this was important to her...this was her life and what made her her.

This book is constantly moving. There are no dull parts, there are no lulls. I found myself constantly on edge, waiting to see what was around the corner for these characters, because there was always something happening, always one more thing to unravel or reveal. This book is full of secrets and well-developed characters that just tug on your heartstrings. It's the type of story that will linger in your mind long after you finish reading. This is why I love reading Diane Chamberlain...her books are so good and so complex - it's like being transported to that world. I just love them.

Audio thoughts: Even though I had two copies of this book - both an e-copy and a print copy - I decided to listen to the book and what a fantastic idea that turned out to be. Susan Bennett did a phenomenal job with this audio - she brought this story to life! She was able to give each character their own unique voice and her pacing and tone was spot on. I felt like I was living alongside these characters as I listened to this book - it was that good an audio production. 



  1. I'd love to reread this through audio at some point. Did love the whole story and the twists and turns, loved the characters too.

  2. I loved it too, and it was pretty unpredictable which was great.


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