THE STOLEN MARRIAGE

Diane Chamberlain

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.

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,

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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.

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 at 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?

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  • St. Martin's Press
  • Hardcover
  • October 2017
  • 384 Pages
  • 9781250087270

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$26.99

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About Diane Chamberlain

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

Author Website

Praise

“Chamberlain […] conveys a strong sense of daily life in the American South during WWII, and the concurrent devastation of the polio epidemic, in this well-crafted crime-tinged tale of a marriage of convenience.”Publishers Weekly 

“Combines the issue-driven style of Jodi Picoult, the romantic tension of Nora Roberts…”Booklist

Discussion Questions

1. How do the details of the backdrop of World War II, including both rationing for war and the polio epidemic, enhance your experience of the story?

2. What kind of tone do you think the prologue sets for the rest of the novel? Did it succeed in making you want to read further? Why or why not?

3. Compare and contrast Tess’s upbringing in Little Italy and Henry’s upbringing as a wealthy member of southern society. How do their backgrounds influence the decisions they make and how they navigate the world?

4. What do you think the significance is of Tess and her mother reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? Why do you think that story in particular resonated with Tess?

5. On page 138, Tess writes to Gina that she is still planning on becoming a nurse despite her new family’s disapproval, saying, “I’ve worked hard for this and I’m going to get that license!” Why do you think Tess clings to this dream and works so hard to make it happen?

6. Most of the letters in the novel are from Tess to Gina, and readers only get to see a few of Gina’s responses. How do you think only having access to half of the conversation affected your reading experience? Did you feel like you were missing anything?

7. What do you think of Reverend Sam? Can he truly speak to the dead or is he simply trying to comfort Tess? Does it matter whether or not his “powers” are authentic?

8. On page 237, Adora says, “Everybody always ‘spected Hank’d marry Violet and that would have been a terrible thing. Maybe you saved him from something terrible, Miss Tess. You think of it that way, all right?” Do you agree with her? Did Tess “save” Henry in the end?

9. Why do you think that when Tess was finally allowed to use her nursing abilities she suddenly became much more confident and able to stand up to her husband and Ruth?

10. Near the end of the book, Henry compares his experiences being “trapped” by society to Tess’ experiences being “trapped” in marriage. Do you think this is a fair comparison for him to make? Why or why not?