Promises to Keep by Genevieve GrahamPromises to Keep by Genevieve Graham

Promises to Keep

byGenevieve Graham

Paperback | April 4, 2017

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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.
Title:Promises to KeepFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.38 × 5.5 × 0.8 inPublished:April 4, 2017Publisher:Simon & SchusterLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1501142879

ISBN - 13:9781501142871

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Makes Canadian History Fun to Read A really interesting novel, fun and educational on a lot of issues.
Date published: 2017-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Read This book was a very interesting and engaging story. While it does have some romance developing throughout the story, the author did an amazing job of making sure it did not take away from the main story. The story focuses on the trials faced by the Acadians, as individuals, families and communities, and how they all worked together to find solutions in their new, albeit, forced life. I loved seeing the interactions of each cultures, the Acadians, the Natives, and the English.
Date published: 2017-06-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Learning Experience. One of the best things I love about Historical Fiction is that it awakens a hunger in me to learn more. It’s an appetite that forces me to go beyond the storylines and seek the basis of the novel. After devouring this in practically one sitting, I’ve come to realize that I don’t know much about the history of this great nation. I didn’t go to school here; even though I’ve been living here for 20+ years now. Other than the brief history I needed to learn in order for me to get my Canadian citizenship status; the current events, political or otherwise, my knowledge about this great country of mine is pretty paltry. Thanks to this book, I’ve developed an interest in the Expulsion of the Acadian people in the 17th century. On the surface, Promises to Keep is a story about the romantic entanglement between an Acadian and English soldier. But on the large, it’s about the resiliency of the Acadian people at a time when they were forced out of their land and imprisoned in a ship on their way to exile. It is also about the fierce relationship between the Mi’kmaq people and the French Canadians. This was an especially curious interest to me the most. Over the course of history, all we’ve ever known about the relationships between the indigenous people and the invaders of their land was how it was ripe with contempt and ill will. But the Mi’kmaq people and the French had developed a friendship that left the English confounded. Perhaps it was in this resulting uncanny camaraderie that the Acadian hoped for a better outcome of the invasion. The Acadian people wanted to believe that they can live in harmony with the English soldiers. They showed little to no resistance; they fed them even. But they would soon realize that the dictates of war offer no such euphony. The English would leave them homeless first, then confined in the bellows of a ship sailing the perilous Atlantic Ocean towards the South. Before the invasion, Genevieve depicted the idyllic life of the Acadians set in the backdrop of a lush farming land and the giving sea. There were conviviality and togetherness in the small population of Grand Pre. Unfortunately, the serenity would not last. Through her words, she also conveyed their hardship during the invasion. The more often hopelessness of their situation: the hunger, the filth they had to wade through, and their resolve to see through their plight no matter how desperate their situation. And amidst this struggle, was the budding and tremulous romance between Amelie and Connor MacDonnell. It’s one that’s forbidden, dangerous but all the more important because their entanglement was the flint the Acadian needed to spark their resistance. MacDonnell was first burdened with a choice between doing his duties as a soldier and doing what’s right for Amelie’s people. But given his history with the British Army, this choice soon became less of a burden but more of the end justifying the means. He was once a victim of the English invasion as well. He’s a Scot who had seen and tasted what the English were capable of when they marauded Scotland. After his entire family was killed during the war, he was left with no other choice but to become a soldier in service of the Queen. Even if he was full of hatred for the English. Which is why the decision to betray them even it means his death came to him easily. Amelie was a strong woman who had to make hard decisions as well but never did she wallow or second guessed herself knowing what was at stake. She had a fierce love and loyalty to her family; a sense of belonging with the Mi’kmaq people, and love for her land that had given them so much over the years. I started reading this book at noon on a Sunday. I finished reading it on my ride to work the following day. If you’ve ever considered Historical Fiction boring, Promises to Keep was far from it. Genevieve Graham rendered the most romantic landscape of the East Coast amidst the imperious haze of a brewing war. This book was a measly 300+ pages. But it offered so much perspective and connection to the characters and the history.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A beautiful, emotional story In 2015, I read and loved Genevieve Graham’s historical novel, Tides of Honour. I love historical fiction, and have always lamented about the lack of Canadian historical fiction. Not only was Tides of Honour set in Canada, it also featured an event I knew nothing about: the Halifax Explosion of 1917. When I learned Ms Graham was writing a novel about the Acadian Expulsion, I was ecstatic. My dad was from Shediac, an Acadian town in New Brunswick. One of his brothers is into genealogy and did thorough research on our family line, even creating a book that each family member has (considering my dad was the youngest of 16 children, this book comes in extremely handy!). One thing he didn’t talk about in the book was the Acadian Expulsion, but when I told him I was visiting France for the second time in 2015, he called me and gave me some new information about our family - where our ancestors came from in France, plus the fact at least one of our ancestors was part of the Acadian Resistance, along with the fact our family was sent to Boston during the Expulsion, where they lived with Native Americans before returning to Canada. My dad died long before my uncle did any of this research, but being a proud Acadian, I know he would have loved this information, and I’m positive he would have loved Ms Graham’s Promises to Keep, just as I did. Promises to Keep started in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, an idyllic area with happy, flourishing families living comfortably off the land. They lived in harmony with the local Mi’kmaq tribe, and Amélie’s family in particular had close ties to the Natives. At the start of the story, the British Army had been a presence for awhile, but they didn’t interfere much with the locals. With new orders from the king, the Acadians' lives began to change in small ways that soon turned more drastic. The British wanted the Acadians' land, and they’d stop at nothing to get it. I love that the story started with a view of what life was like pre-expulsion. Amélie and her family were happy and healthy, and they were proud Acadians. They never lost that pride, even when they lost nearly everything else. The beautiful life they lived was such a contrast to what unravelled throughout the book - their family being being ripped apart, and the misery, pain, and heartache that followed. Graham did a fantastic job of weaving a story with strong characters, an engaging plot, and a sweet romance. I rooted for Amélia and Connor from the beginning, and my heart broke for all they had to go through together and separately. I loved how all the different elements of the story were twined together, creating something beautiful, complex, and meaningful. I truly felt for these characters - for the pain they had to endure, and the struggles they faced. Not only am I impressed with Graham’s storytelling ability, I’m also impressed that she managed to get so much story - and with such heart and emotion - into a relatively short book. So many stories like this drag on and end up overdoing it with historical detail, but Graham did a masterful job of balancing the historical aspects with the romance, action, and family aspects. In the last couple of years, I’ve (mostly) learned not to get my hopes up too high for books, but because of my personal reasons for being curious about Promises to Keep, my expectations were high. I can honestly say Genevieve Graham exceeded by expectations with this story. Promises to Keep is a beautiful, engaging story about perseverance, hope, strength, family, and love. I can’t recommend this book highly enough to fans of historical fiction.
Date published: 2017-04-05

Read from the Book

Promises to Keep ONE June 1755 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. For now I had to be satisfied with the robins, poking their little beaks into the dirt, retrieving what goodness they could find. How simple for them, I thought, hoisting my second bucket of water. They pulled their food from the earth and drank their fill from the dew, and they had no chores at all. Early summer—nipk to the Mi’kmaq, when Nipniku’s brought the summer moon—meant the morning mud beneath our clogs would be cold, the stinging flies relentless. At the end of the day we would fall back into bed, exhausted and itchy. Ah, but the little birds did not have what I had either, I mused. They could not come inside and warm their feathers by a welcoming fire when the rain raged or the wind banged the shutters of our house. They could not keep their tiny feet warm in fine woollen socks or wooden clogs like mine. They could not even enjoy the notion of how fortunate we were to live in this wonderful place with a loving family and so many friends. I heard Maman singing, then Giselle joined in with her high, happy voice. My little sister was fourteen, but she often seemed younger than that to me. Setting a bucket on the threshold, I opened the door and walked inside, then poured the water into the large pot hanging over the stove. No one had been tending the fire, and I glanced at the others, but they seemed not to sense my annoyance. I thought about mentioning their laziness, but their laughter dissuaded me. There was no sense in dampening their good mood. I knelt and coaxed a flame from the pulsing orange logs. “Oh! Thank you, Amélie,” Maman said. “I don’t know where my head is this morning.” “I do!” Giselle said. Maman shook her head, but she was smiling. “You are a little tease.” Shame washed through me, and I turned so they wouldn’t see my embarrassment. How could I have forgotten? “You were distracted,” I said. “Thinking about Claire and Guillaume.” “Aren’t you?” Giselle asked. “The wedding will be wonderful! Then Claire will have her own home and her own children, and I will be an aunt! Oh, if only we didn’t have to wait until September! But I suppose it is all right. After the harvest we can enjoy it even more. What about you, Amélie? You are seventeen already. When will you choose a husband?” I abhorred that question, and they loved to ask it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to marry. I simply had not met anyone with whom I could imagine spending the rest of my life. When I thought about the hours in a day, then those in a night, I knew my husband would have to be more than just strong and hard-working. He would have to be someone with whom I could talk about anything, and no one in our village had yet reached my standards. “Hush, Giselle. Don’t ask me that.” Maman pursed her lips. “You know, Pierre Melanson—” “I will not talk about this right now.” “But, Amélie!” Giselle wailed. “There must be someone—” “Stop! I said I won’t talk about it.” I yanked the door open. “I suppose I’ll get the milk too, since everyone but me seems too busy to do anything today.” The sweet, ripe smells of the barn welcomed me inside, and I breathed in deeply, feeling instantly soothed. “Good morning, Amélie,” Papa and André said, glancing up from their work. The men in my family have never pressured me to find a husband. Marriage was important, I knew, but they seemed to understand that nagging would do no good. “Good morning. Maman will have breakfast ready soon.” “Merci, mon ange,” Papa said, scraping his rake across the stall floor. “He told them they need their canoes back for fishing,” André said. I realized I had accidentally interrupted their conversation, and I perked up, listening for clues to the topic. Anything would be more interesting than discussing marriage. “And said they are losing cattle and oxen to the predators in the woods.” Papa nodded sombrely. “This is true. Now that the Mi’kmaq have moved away and no longer hunt—” “They moved away?” I cried. Surely Mali wouldn’t have gone without speaking to me or saying goodbye! “Not far, but far enough. Don’t worry. Mali will be fine. Go on,” he said to André. “What else? The petition? What did he hear about that?” He gestured with his chin. “And work while you talk.” That reminded me I had a job to do as well. I dragged a stool to the cow and leaned my shoulder against her warm, bristled side, letting her know I was there. My fingers closed around her and tugged in a familiar rhythm. At the other end of the barn André began filling the wheelbarrow, clouding the air with dust. “Governor Lawrence would allow no one to read the petition, Papa. Instead he ordered everyone assembled—all one hundred men—to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown, promising to take up arms against the King of France.” Papa and I both stopped what we were doing, incredulous. “Take up arms?” Papa puffed out a breath. “But we cannot side with the English in any kind of war,” I reasoned. “They can’t make us do that, can they?” What would the Mi’kmaq do if the Acadians were forced to side with the British? Would they have to fight against us? It hurt to imagine it. “Keep working, Amélie.” Papa nodded toward the cow. “She’ll get impatient.” He turned back to André. “Tell me, what happened when the men heard the order?” André could only shrug. “Of course everyone said no. They said such an oath would rob us of our religion and everything else we believe in. So Governor Lawrence arrested them all and sent them to a prison near Halifax!” Papa groaned. “This Lawrence. I’ve heard terrible things about him, threatening people with his sword, frightening them for fun. A tyrant! Does your friend know what they plan next?” “No. He ran when he thought the soldiers had discovered him there.” He sighed. “There is more to the story, I am afraid.” The oldest of my three brothers was an intense man. Even as a child he had been particular and precise in everything he did. His expression was often difficult to interpret, since he deliberately hid his feelings. This morning he was surprisingly easy to read. “Governor Lawrence took away the priests,” he said, his voice so choked with fury that I feared he might break down. “He then made the church into his command post—” “What?” I blurted. “And he himself has moved into the priest’s house. Tents have been picketed all around the area for the soldiers. The English flag now flies over our church, Papa, and they are tossing out sacred items as if they are nothing more than a nuisance.” He flung his shovel aside. “To make matters even worse, more soldiers have come.” I couldn’t speak. What did this mean? What could have prompted the British to behave so? The act of seizing our church was an insult to all of us. We were not a warring people; if they declared war on us, what would we do? By the time I had been born in 1738, the British and the French had battled over this land many times, but my people had not been part of the fight. We had always called our home l’Acadie, but when the British had finally defeated the French for good, they named it Nova Scotia. It had never mattered to me which country believed they were in charge, because we Acadians lived independently of them all. I was not a Nova Scotian; I was an Acadian. Politics had never touched my life before now. I set the full bucket outside the barn, then gazed across the land toward our church. The shapes of men moved among the straight white rows of tents where they slept. Certainly I had seen them before, but they had not seemed so menacing until today.

Editorial Reviews

“Audrey is a strong female character, a hallmark of Graham’s books.”