From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel
In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.
The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.
When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. 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 her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?
This novel starts out a little slow, basically because the first part of the story is “nothing new”. Tess makes a huge mistake and gets pregnant. She marries the father of her child and moves to Hickory, NC. The tale then escalates with all her adjustments and the mysteries surrounding her new husband.
This story has many plots folded all into one. It really keeps you humming along. Henry with his mysterious comings and goings, Vincent, the heart broken fiancé, the polio clinic, the racist attitude of the town, all of this weave into a saga which is absorbing on many levels. Plus! You must read about Reverend Sam. He is a character which stole my heart!! I also enjoyed learning about the Polio clinic. (Which is true!) The town of Hickory did put up a polio clinic in 54 hours.
The only reason I am giving this 4 stars is Tess. She is a little infuriating. She is not as strong as I want her to be. She takes way too much off of her mother-in-law and many others in the town. There were places I wanted to pop her and say “SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF!”
I have only read one other book by Diane Chamberlain and I adored it. I have no idea why I have not picked up her other books. I must! I love her plot turns and her rich historical detail!
I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review.