Our theme for August is “Beach Read,” and while The Stolen Marriage may not be a typical beach read, it certainly ticks the “Beach Read” boxes of being quick, and with quite a high mix of drama.
Chamberlain certainly didn’t hold back in terms of the dramatic themes in The Stolen Marriage. Discussing the book with the other “Katherines,” I kept finding myself sliding into a Stefon-like description (“This book has everything – the polio epidemic, death, World War II, abandonment, abortion, adultery…” and I’ll stop there even though I could easily tick off 10-15 more things, but there would be major spoilers). In many ways, it felt like every chapter was also the introduction of another new element (SPOILER ALERT: “…mediums, secret relationships, arson…”). And while that kind of drama can certainly be entertaining and engrossing, it can also be incredibly overwhelming and unbelievable. For all of these terrible things to happen to one person in the span of a year!? Well, the book might as well have been about 2020.
It was also hard to throw my support behind most of the characters, with the exception perhaps of Vincent, who really seemed to get the shortest of all sticks here. Tess was whiny, Henry was a liar, his family was cruel, and even though each character also elicited sympathy, so many of their choices worked against their likability.
Now. All of that being said… I think I kind of liked it? I even recommended it to a couple of people who I know love very dramatic, period fiction type novels. I certainly am open to reading more from Diane Chamberlain. That said, I was also a major follower of Nicholas Sparks and devoured pretty much every book he wrote up through approximately 2012. So if you have that same guilty pleasure, maybe you’ll enjoy The Stolen Marriage too.