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?
My Thoughts: I was immediately caught up in the story of Tess and Vincent; I felt her pain when one mistake led to impossible choices.
Her pregnancy and marriage to wealthy Henry Kraft would take Tess outside her comfort zone. No longer living in Little Italy in Baltimore, she struggled to fit into her new life in Hickory, North Carolina.
But even as she tried to settle into her new life, Henry’s behavior toward her was puzzling, and the hostility she felt from all the townspeople, including her mother-in-law, made her adjustment almost impossible. Would she ever unravel the secrets Henry held deep within?
When Tess finished her licensing for her R.N. and, despite her husband’s objections, began working as a volunteer nurse during the polio epidemic that had hit the town, she started to regain her feelings of self-worth and confidence.
When an unexpected person from her past gives her new hope, she suddenly and unexpectedly finds just the power she needs to regain her life. And a mysterious journey leads her to treasures she had never anticipated. The Stolen Marriage was a beautiful story that kept me rapidly turning pages. 5 stars.