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The stolen marriage is not your typical romance novel. (You can click here to see exactly why) It falls under historical fiction as the plot dates back to the 1940s after the second world war. It follows the life and experiences of Tess DeMello, a 23-year-old Italian girl living in Baltimore. Tess was a young girl with simple dreams. She was living the ideal life: she had a nursing degree, she was engaged to her childhood sweetheart, Vincent, who was a doctor. Her dream was to get married to the love of her life and work alongside him as a nurse.
Things were perfect for her until Vincent had to leave Baltimore for Chicago to work in a polio clinic. After a while, it seemed to her like Vincent was beginning to lose interest in their relationship. He became evasive as to the date of his return from Chicago and they became estranged. Tess felt she had nothing to lose when her best friend suggested they take a trip to Washington D.C.
Her experience in Washington changed her life forever. She got drunk in D.C. and had a one-night stand (or so she thought) with a man named Henry Kraft. He was described as a handsome man and also very mysterious. After her wild time, she left for Baltimore determined to put what had happened behind her and continue with her life but alas, she was pregnant. She was faced with an option to get rid of the child or to keep it. At this point, it is important to note that Tess had a strict Catholic upbringing. She decided against abortion and decided to keep the yet unborn child.
In her dilemma, she turned to the father of the child, Henry to seek his assistance in raising the child. To her surprise, Henry proposed marriage to her. She was not in love with Henry but was hopeful that the love will grow with time. It seemed moral in her eyes to marry a complete stranger for the sake of the child. She decided to forsake her childhood love and settled to marry Henry. Now, Henry was described as a wealthy man who lived and worked as a furniture manufacturer in a small town called Hickory in North Carolina. He took Tess to stay in his parent’s house.
He lived with his mother, Miss Ruth and his younger sister, Lucy with other African American slaves. There was no love lost between Tess and Henry as he would leave the house and get back home late. Tess tried, to no avail, to get him to tell her where he was always going out to. There was obviously something secretive about him and he was doing his best to keep her out of it.
Miss Ruth and Lucy did not make life any easier for Tess. They obviously resented her. It could be as a result of the undisclosed secret or the fact that she was Italian or that she was an unknown and an unwelcome stranger to them. It seemed that her only friends in the house were the African American slaves. The hatred for Tess grew worse when Lucy died in a car accident while Tess was driving. Henry did not love Tess and he did not allow her to work either.
Later in the book, a polio epidemic broke out in Hickory and the inhabitants of the town built a polio hospital. Even though she was forbidden to work, she went against her husband’s wish and began to work there. In my view, Tess is a strong woman but does not think her decisions through before making them. She is also determined to make an impact by throwing herself into the work in the polio hospital against her husband’s will. Through this work at the clinic, she starts to find purpose and meaning. Henry’s actions become more preposterous as the days go on. As Tess struggles to save the lives of her patients, can she unravel her husband’s mysteries and find love again?
The Stolen Marriage Plot and PDF
The setting of the novel is in the United States of America after the World War II. There is a recurring outbreak of polio in major places in the country like Chicago and Baltimore. We follow the main character, Tess as she moves from Baltimore, where she was born and raised, to Washington D.C., where she first met Henry, back to her home in Baltimore where she discovered she was pregnant and finally to Hickory, North Carolina where she settled with her husband.
The novel cuts across different races and the discrimination prevalent at the time. African Americans were treated as slaves; Italians were seen as outcasts to the Native Americans. We can see the strong effect of religion on the main character’s life decision. She preferred to stay in a loveless marriage rather than get rid of the unborn child. She eventually lost the child but was still forced to stay married to Henry.
The hardcover of the novel has 384 pages and was published on the 3rd of October, 2017 by St Martin’s Press. On Amazon, the novel was awarded 4 out of 5 stars by readers, which you can see by clicking here.
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If you’re looking to discover great new romance novels, check out Virginia Hodgson’s books here. As an added bonus, many of them come with the Audiobook version included with them when you purchase them through the Kindle store.