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Promises to Keep Paperback – April 4, 2017
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“Fascinating, harrowing, illuminating, this is a gripping love story. Graham sheds light on a dark chapter of Canadian history, immersing the reader in 1755 Grand Pré, making vivid the flames and the pain of the Acadians deported from their idyllic homeland.”
(Beth Powning, bestselling author of A Measure of Light)
“In this beautifully-written, meticulously researched novel of the Acadian expulsion from Grand Pré in 1755, Genevieve Graham crafts an uncompromising glimpse into the anguish of war and the eventual triumph of love. A must read for fans of Canadian history.” (Kaki Warner, bestselling author of Pieces of Sky)
“Sinking into Promises to Keep is like stepping into the lush forest of whole new world. The novel sings with power, adventure, and heart.” (Katherine Scott Crawford, author of Keowee Valley)
“A compelling tale of a strong young woman fiercely loyal to her family and to her heart.” (Sophie Perinot, author of Médicis Daughter)
"Graham makes the 1755 Acadian Expulsion feel like a modern-day tragedy. Her powerful fiction is a boat sailing the choppy surf of love and war over her ocean-deep research into a vital time in Canadian history." (Jon Tattrie, author of Cornwallis: The Violent Birth of Halifax)
PRAISE FOR TIDES OF HONOUR
“[Graham] has delivered a book that reads like a love letter to a time and place that figures largely in our national identity: Halifax in 1917.” (The Globe and Mail)
“Fans of Gabaldon and other historical fiction/romance writers will lap this up for the classy, fast-moving, easy-to-read and absorbing book that it is—with some Canadian history to boot.” (Winnipeg Free Press)
“Evocative of place and time, a novel blending tragedy and triumph in a poignant and uplifting tale that’s sure to leave its mark upon your heart.” (Susanna Kearsley, New York Times & Globe and Mail bestselling author)
“Travel back to 1917 and explore a world of suffragettes, Bolsheviks and the Great War - and the love story that illuminates them all.” (Jon Tattrie, author of Black Snow)
“A moving Maritime story of love, loss, and the human spirit.” (Lesley Crewe, author of Relative Happiness and Kin)
“Graham has created a memorable story of love surviving devastation. Set during the darks days of the Halifax Explosion—the largest man-made explosion prior to Hiroshima—a young artist and a wounded soldier are forced to overcome their personal struggles in the face of disaster. Graham examines class struggles and the post-traumatic effect of war with a vivid description of early twentieth century Halifax.” (Pamela Callow, international bestselling author)
“Audrey is a strong female character, a hallmark of Graham’s books.” (The Chronicle Herald)
About the Author
Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in music in 1986 and began writing in 2007. She is passionate about breathing life back into history through tales of love and adventure, and loves the challenge of re-living Canadian history in particular. Her previous novel, Tides of Honour, was a Globe and Mail bestseller. When Graham is not writing, she can be found relaxing with her husband and two grown daughters, teaching piano to children in the community, or tending the garden along with a friendly flock of heritage chickens. She lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Visit her at GenevieveGraham.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
Promises to Keep started in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, an idyllic area with happy, flourishing families living comfortably off the land. They lived in harmony with the local Mi’kmaq tribe, and Amélie’s family in particular had close ties to the Natives. At the start of the story, the British Army had been a presence for awhile, but they didn’t interfere much with the locals. With new orders from the king, the Acadians' lives began to change in small ways that soon turned more drastic. The British wanted the Acadians' land, and they’d stop at nothing to get it.
I love that the story started with a view of what life was like pre-expulsion. Amélie and her family were happy and healthy, and they were proud Acadians. They never lost that pride, even when they lost nearly everything else. The beautiful life they lived was such a contrast to what unravelled throughout the book - their family being being ripped apart, and the misery, pain, and heartache that followed.
Graham did a fantastic job of weaving a story with strong characters, an engaging plot, and a sweet romance. I rooted for Amélia and Connor from the beginning, and my heart broke for all they had to go through together and separately. I loved how all the different elements of the story were twined together, creating something beautiful, complex, and meaningful. I truly felt for these characters - for the pain they had to endure, and the struggles they faced. Not only am I impressed with Graham’s storytelling ability, I’m also impressed that she managed to get so much story - and with such heart and emotion - into a relatively short book. So many stories like this drag on and end up overdoing it with historical detail, but Graham did a masterful job of balancing the historical aspects with the romance, action, and family aspects.
In the last couple of years, I’ve (mostly) learned not to get my hopes up too high for books, but because of my personal reasons for being curious about Promises to Keep, my expectations were high. I can honestly say Genevieve Graham exceeded by expectations with this story. Promises to Keep is a beautiful, engaging story about perseverance, hope, strength, family, and love. I can’t recommend this book highly enough to fans of historical fiction.
After devouring this in practically one sitting, I’ve come to realize that I don’t know much about the history of this great nation. I didn’t go to school here; even though I’ve been living here for 20+ years now. Other than the brief history I needed to learn in order for me to get my Canadian citizenship status; the current events, political or otherwise, my knowledge about this great country of mine is pretty paltry. Thanks to this book, I’ve developed an interest in the Expulsion of the Acadian people in the 17th century.
On the surface, Promises to Keep is a story about the romantic entanglement between an Acadian and English soldier. But on the large, it’s about the resiliency of the Acadian people at a time when they were forced out of their land and imprisoned in a ship on their way to exile. It is also about the fierce relationship between the Mi’kmaq people and the French Canadians. This was an especially curious interest to me the most.
Over the course of history, all we’ve ever known about the relationships between the indigenous people and the invaders of their land was how it was ripe with contempt and ill will. But the Mi’kmaq people and the French had developed a friendship that left the English confounded. Perhaps it was in this resulting uncanny camaraderie that the Acadian hoped for a better outcome of the invasion.
The Acadian people wanted to believe that they can live in harmony with the English soldiers. They showed little to no resistance; they fed them even. But they would soon realize that the dictates of war offer no such euphony. The English would leave them homeless first, then confined in the bellows of a ship sailing the perilous Atlantic Ocean towards the South.
Before the invasion, Genevieve depicted the idyllic life of the Acadians set in the backdrop of a lush farming land and the giving sea. There were conviviality and togetherness in the small population of Grand Pre. Unfortunately, the serenity would not last. Through her words, she also conveyed their hardship during the invasion. The more often hopelessness of their situation: the hunger, the filth they had to wade through, and their resolve to see through their plight no matter how desperate their situation.
And amidst this struggle, was the budding and tremulous romance between Amelie and Connor MacDonnell. It’s one that’s forbidden, dangerous but all the more important because their entanglement was the flint the Acadian needed to spark their resistance. MacDonnell was first burdened with a choice between doing his duties as a soldier and doing what’s right for Amelie’s people. But given his history with the British Army, this choice soon became less of a burden but more of the end justifying the means.
He was once a victim of the English invasion as well. He’s a Scot who had seen and tasted what the English were capable of when they marauded Scotland. After his entire family was killed during the war, he was left with no other choice but to become a soldier in service of the Queen. Even if he was full of hatred for the English. Which is why the decision to betray them even it means his death came to him easily.
Amelie was a strong woman who had to make hard decisions as well but never did she wallow or second guessed herself knowing what was at stake. She had a fierce love and loyalty to her family; a sense of belonging with the Mi’kmaq people, and love for her land that had given them so much over the years.
I started reading this book at noon on a Sunday. I finished reading it on my ride to work the following day. If you’ve ever considered Historical Fiction boring, Promises to Keep was far from it. Genevieve Graham rendered the most romantic landscape of the East Coast amidst the imperious haze of a brewing war. This book was a measly 300+ pages. But it offered so much perspective and connection to the characters and the history.
Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a time limited ecopy for review. There are no associated obligations.