War is not only about weapons, killing and death. Whatever happens in this world, life never stops. Even when the world is crumbling, ruining our habits and normal state of things, we continue to work, love, and develop. Your lifestyle can change radically, but you cannot pause your vital activity.
And that is what Diane Chamberlain brilliantly shows in her book The Stolen Marriage. Imagine. 1944. Twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello finds out that she is pregnant, but it’s not her fiancé who is the father of the child. She is alone and riddled with guilt. Unable to live a lie, Tess ends her engagement to the love of her life and gives up her promising career as a nurse.
The young woman turns to the baby’s father, Henry Kraft, for help. She agrees to marry him and moves to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Henry 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 got in a strange and loveless marriage and there’s no way out.
The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and they see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and contempt. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in an appalling accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, although it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not.
Then a sudden polio epidemic hits Hickory. The townspeople team up to build a hospital. Tess knows she is needed and begin working there, despite Henry’s restrictions. This work helps her find purpose and meaning. Meanwhile, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. Can Tess now untangle the truth behind her husband’s weird behavior and find the love and the life she was meant to have?
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