Friday, 28 April 2017

Promises to Keep

Author: Genevieve Graham
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction (Canadian)
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 336 pages
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
First Published: April 4, 2017
First Line: "The hummingbirds would return soon, tiny warriors marking the true beginning of summer in their frantic, efficient manner, and I smiled every time I saw them."

Book Description from GoodReadsSummer 1755, Acadia

Young, beautiful Amélie Belliveau lives with her family among the Acadians of Grande Pré, Nova Scotia, content with her life on their idyllic farm. Along with their friends, the neighbouring Mi’kmaq, the community believes they can remain on neutral political ground despite the rising tides of war. But peace can be fragile, and sometimes faith is not enough. When the Acadians refuse to pledge allegiance to the British in their war against the French, the army invades Grande Pré, claims the land, and rips the people from their homes. Amélie’s entire family, alongside the other Acadians, is exiled to ports unknown aboard dilapidated ships.

Fortunately, Amélie has made a powerful ally. Having survived his own harrowing experience at the hands of the English, Corporal Connor MacDonnell is a reluctant participant in the British plan to expel the Acadians from their homeland. His sympathy for Amélie gradually evolves into a profound love, and he resolves to help her and her family in any way he can—even if it means treason. As the last warmth of summer fades, more ships arrive to ferry the Acadians away, and Connor is forced to make a decision that will alter the future forever.

Heart-wrenching and captivating, Promises to Keep is a gloriously romantic tale of a young couple forced to risk everything amidst the uncertainties of war.

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: I'm a pretty big Historical Fiction buff and a proud Canadian so this book, which is set in 18th century Acadia, sounded like a perfect fit for me.

The strength of the book is in the vivid detail describing the beautiful, bucolic Grand Pré farmland and coastline where the Acadian people had lived in harmony with the French and Mi'kmaq people for generations. When this idyllic setting and its people are threatened by a sudden British invasion, the Acadian people find themselves thrown off their land and suffer hardships, hunger and abuse at the hands of their captors. This historical setting is the backdrop for a light romance between a young Acadian woman and a British soldier.

When the British invade, readers witness some of the hardships and treatment imposed on the Acadians but there lacked a sense of brutality and fierceness to those scenes. This lighter, less graphic aspect may attract some readers but I was expecting something a little grittier.

The characters are a diverse bunch and I would have loved to have more page time devoted to the Mi'kmaq but the focus stays mainly on Amélie and Connor. Their romance was sweet but they didn't have enough depth to their characters and I felt readers aren't given enough reasons for their connection and draw to each other. I just didn't feel the love, I guess.

While I enjoyed the setting, premise and Canadian historical perspective, the execution of the story, its characters and dialogue were a little weaker than I had anticipated. Readers who enjoy a lighter Historical Fiction read that shows the resiliency of the human spirit and a strong nod to romantic elements should enjoy this book.

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