- File Size: 1145 KB
- Print Length: 364 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Shayne Parkinson via Smashwords (April 22, 2011)
- Publication Date: April 22, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004XWPWPE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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|Print List Price:||$14.99|
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Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Let me begin by warning you that "Sentence of Marriage" is not a stand-alone book in a trilogy of novels. It is the first part of what is one long narrative about the troubled marriage of a single character and the life of her community. The book that Amazon is offering for free on the Kindle cuts off the narrative, and if you want to read the whole story you have to buy the other books.
The series details the struggles and tortures endured by a young New Zealand woman, Amy, who dares to cast her dreams higher than her small farming community and hope for true love. When Amy's naive dreams lead to personal tragedy, her life is set on a course of suffering and family abuse. What follows is a series of betrayals, violence, and social ignorance that take our heroine from her teens into her forties. Amy is a young saint, who blames no one for her problems but herself. She endures everything that comes her way without believing that she might deserve something better. The book's descriptions of the community are very well written, but it narrative is filled with inconsistent two-dimensional characters that are either irredeemably evil (Amy's heartless stepmother and her tyrannical husband) or impotent in their good intentions (everyone else in her community).
As I continued to read about beatings, rape, strings of verbal and psychological abuse, I kept thinking that the plot would somehow develop, even if it meant nothing more ambitious than seeing Amy find her strength and reclaim her dignity. By the second book my hopes turned to desperation, and by the time I finished the series I deeply regretted purchasing it in advance. All the vivid language and bright energy of the first chapters had given way to strings of abusive expletives and exhausting repetitions.
By its conclusion, the book suggests that finding redemption lies in just accepting your fate and making the best of your circumstances, and in the case of Amy that suggestion is bleak and frighteningly sexist from a female writer. Amy does not so much reclaim herself as she learns to "endure" and be "at peace". To the end, she does her "duty" by all around her. There is also a troubling suggestion that what happened to Amy was an inevitable consequence of her youthful mistakes, and that, had she been smart, prudent, and above all "moral" like her cousin Lizzie, she could have basked in a happy family life. Sure, the book makes us feel bad for Amy's abuse, but at the same time it takes great pain to show us how well the other women are doing -- you know, those who didn't fool around before marriage and who found themselves suitable matches.
The tiny glimmer of Dickensian light that the author hammers into the book's conclusion is so forced and insufficient that it leaves a bitter taste after an already insufferable reading experience.
I did not allow other negative reviews to deter me from the book, because they frequently called it "dark", and I've never been one to shy away from difficult subject matter. But this book isn't so much dark as it is insensitive to its subject and its central characters, well beyond the point that one could call historical realism.
Often, I thought the details of minor events went on too long with not contributing to the story line. Maybe shorter would have been better. Then it could have a happy ending without having the feeling of so much despair while reading the whole series.
I would recommend this to others if you enjoy factual, real life type stories, but don't expect a happy ending. I wish I wouldn't have read it. It will be on my mind to long.
FYI: There are sexual events, but not a lot detail.