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A Reader's Opinion: PROMISES TO KEEP by Genevieve Graham



A READER'S OPINION

Set during the time of the Acadian expulsion in 1755 ("Le grand dérangement") from what is now Nova Scotia. PROMISES TO KEEP contains a stronger, deeper story than its romantic cover art might suggest. While there is a strong attraction between the Acadian girl Amélie Belliveau and the English army Corporal Connor MacDonnell, there is little time for any romance for the English army is determined to rid their newly acquired territory of the Acadians as soon as possible. A peaceable people, the Acadians refuse to swear allegiance to the English King and want nothing to do with the French army either. Nevertheless, the Acadians are seen as French sympathizers by the English and likely to take up arms against them if they are allowed to remain in Acadia. These proud, stubborn people must be forcibly removed.

This is the state of turmoil that gives PROMISES TO KEEP its basis for conflict. Connor, while he is serving with the English army, is a Scot, who recently had his own homeland conquered by the British. Amélie, who doesn't understand what is soon to befall her people, finds a degree of kindness and trustworthiness in Connor that attracts her, yet she is cautious since the English have not treated her people respectfully since they arrived in Grand Pré. Connor informs her that if she remains, she will be shipped away from her land so she must flee to the forest as her two older brothers have done and as the Mi'kmaq have already done. Despite this, Connor promises her that he will do whatever he can to keep her and her family safe throughout the coming days of distress. I was extremely impressed with PROMISES TO KEEP. Ms. Graham's previous historical novel, Tides of Honour, was a Globe & Mail bestseller, and this one should fare just as well. To date, there has been very little written about the Acadian people from a fictional aspect and she does an excellent job of recreating the racial tension between the French Acadians and the English, the turmoil of upheaval from an established way of life that was idyllic to a certain degree, and the allegiances between the Acadians and Mi'kmaq that helped them to survive and exist to this day. A highly recommended read.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars | Content Rating: 1 Heart | Reviewed by: James Fisher

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BOOK SYNOPSIS

An enchanting and poignant story about the unfailing power of love in a world turned upside down by war—from the bestselling author of Tides of Honour. 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.

Genre: Historical Fiction | April 24, 2017 | 336pp | Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Format Read: Paperback | Source: Provided by the author or publisher

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