Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Stolen Marriage, by Diane Chamberlain

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: where have Diane Chamberlain’s books been all my life? Yesterday I devoured The Stolen Marriage, another excellent story by an author who is quickly becoming a favorite. She is, certainly, the best author discovery I’ve made in 2023.

Set in the mid 1940s, World War II and the polio epidemic are raging and claiming lives both in the US and overseas. Baltimore nursing student, Tess DeMello, is grateful that her fianceé, Dr. Vincent Russo, doesn’t have to go to war, but despondent when he decides to help with the increasing polio cases in faraway Chicago. It’s only temporary, he says, and their wedding is still scheduled to take place on time. But as his return gets delayed again and again, Tess is convinced that Vincent is staying away for other reasons. Feeling rejected, despite Vincent’s reassurance that she’s the only one, Tess makes a decision that alters the course of her life.

Suddenly, everything Tess had planned is in the rear-view mirror. That momentary choice she made has placed her in a new situation surrounded by new people, none of whom accept and love her. But sometimes the greatest challenges are the things that show us our true strengths, and new places are not always what they seem.

The Stolen Marriage was a superb read that I could not put down. Diane Chamberlain has a fluid writing style that captivates the reader from the very beginning and characters who feel like real people giving us a glimpse into their lives. She touches on domestic themes, often weaving in racial issues that were happening at the time, giving the reader a lot to think about without being heavy handed. Her storytelling is unparalleled, with endings that leave you gasping for air. You will feel sorrow, empathy, shock, and relief. Like the other books I’ve read by Chamberlain, The Stolen Marriage is a wild emotional ride that I would willingly go on again and again as I continue to work my way through all of her novels.

9.5/10 Stars

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