On the Cover: Summer 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.
Published: April 2017
I was excited for this book the moment I heard about it. After reading Graham’s Tides of Honour I was eager to read another of her novels. I had the luck to win Promises to Keep in a giveaway from the awesome Chrystal at Snowdrop Dreams – thank you again!
The one thing that made me fall in love with Graham’s writing is her ability to paint a picture with words. Promises to Keep begins in Grande Pré, and Graham undeniably captures the beauty of this land. Each sense is caught up in the descriptions, and I felt as though I could smell the sweet summer air, hear the ocean in the distance, and feel the sun on my skin. Graham’s writing truly transported me to this world. Even more magical was that I actually visited Grande Pré weeks after finishing this novel, and I felt as though I was truly stepping into Amélie’s world. The accuracy and depth to Graham’s visual depictions are stunning and leave me in awe.
The visual elements in Graham’s novels become even more significant when it comes to the history. The Acadians are subjected to terrible conditions during their relocations, which resulted in illness, starvation and in many cases, death. Here, Graham’s writing illuminates on their experience, her writing so vivid and impactful that it is hard to look away from the page. But just as strong is the resilience and determination of the Acadian people as they fight to survive. Amélie Belliveau speaks and fights with an unwavering vehemence and I absolutely loved the way Graham portrayed her character.
If there was one thing I couldn’t get behind in this novel, it was the love story. This breaks my heart, for I really wanted to be swept away. Unfortunately, the love story is a little too Romeo-and-Juliet-esque, and it does border on insta-love in a way I just couldn’t enjoy. If there had been a bit more foundation to the romance in the beginning of the novel I would have been more convinced. That being said, I did enjoy the evolution throughout the book and by the end I was content.
Promises to Keep hits fairly close to home, as I am married to a Belliveau whose family was and is from the Grande Pré area. Reading a story that his ancestors literally lived through was incredibly deep and touching, and I understand his Acadian pride a little bit more. This book is rich in detail and is both beautiful and shattering. It a wonderful read for anyone who wants to explore this little corner of Canadian history and learn more about the Acadian people.
Rating: 4 / 5
“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.” – p 1
“In my life I’d never gone beyond the limits of Grande Pré, but from here I could see past the golden rises of the dykes and let my daydreams ride the Atlantic. The prettiest sight of all was at the end of the day, when the fishermen’s white-sailed boats returned home, riding the spill of sunset on the water. They had been joined recently by a number of much larger, unfamiliar ships, and we all wondered at their business. Until this morning, I had enjoyed the anticipation of one day finding out why they were there. Now I knew from my brother that they brought only more soldiers. I was no longer happy to see them.” – p 8
“I blinked up at him, my feet anchored on the mud-splattered boards of the dock. How could I blindly go up that ramp? I am not a sheep! I wanted to cry, but in truth I had become exactly that.” – p 139