Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book Review: The Promise: A Novel by Ann Weisgarber

This book starts off slow, as Catherine, a pianist in Dayton, OH, is involved in a scandal and ostracized by society in 1900. Unable to support herself and without support from her family she soon finds herself in dire straits. As she ponders her options, she thinks back to a boy who really liked her back in high school, who seemed steady and kind and who appreciated her for who she was. He moved to Texas and she writes him there. As she counts her pennies to see when she will be forced to leave her hotel, she hears back from him that his wife recently died leaving him and their young son alone on a milk farm in Galveston. Quickly he proposes and she accepts.

In Galveston she finds herself once again on the outside of society, but it is understandable this time, as she is not of farming class and is from the other side of the country; it is not because she has done something bad. She is awkward with Oscar and his son Andre, and completely flummoxed by their determined and jealous servant, Nan (who is secretly in love with Oscar.) Just as things start to smooth out, a storm kicks up. The kind of storm that only hits once in a hundred years...

Hopefully you've heard of the hurricane that nearly wiped out Galveston Island. To this day no one know how many people were killed, but Galveston was the largest city in Texas at that time, and it never was again (official estimates range from 6000 to 12,000 deaths). The story has been told before, but from the town--not from down island where the farmers were. The author has a vacation home on Galveston and immersed herself in the history of the area. Her research shows as the book's historical details ring true. While the book starts off slow, it is a quiet building tension that culminates in the stunning catastrophe that threatens Catherine, Oscar, and their friends. This storm would test anyone, and some people have more resources to face tragedy and horror than others.

I bought this book at my local independent bookstore, Park Road Books.

1 comment:

Ann Weisgarber said...

Carin, thank you so much for reading The Promise and for writing the review. I'm delighted you enjoyed it. You and the other members of the National Women's Book Association - Charlotte are so good to me. I'm a lucky author!