The Promise

Paperback | April 24, 2014

byAnn Weisgarber

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Shortlisted for the prestigious Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.1900. Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio in the wake of a terrible scandal. Heartbroken and facing destitution, she finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the recently widowed Oscar Williams. In desperation she agrees to marry him. But when Catherine travels to Oscar's farm on Galveston island, Texas - a thousand miles from home - she finds she is little prepared for the life that awaits her. The island is remote, the weather sweltering, and Oscar's little boy Andre is grieving hard for his lost mother. And though Oscar tries to please his new wife, the secrets of the past sit uncomfortably between them. Meanwhile for Nan Ogden, Oscar's housekeeper, Catherine's sudden arrival has come as a great shock. For not only did she promise Oscar's first wife that she would be the one to take care of little Andre, but she has feelings for Oscar which she is struggling to suppress. And when the worst storm in a generation descends, the women will find themselves tested as never before . . . From the author of The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers and longlisted for the Orange Prize, The Promise is a heart-breaking story of love, loss and buried secrets, which confirms Weisgarber as one of the most compelling literary voices writing today.The Promise was a finalist in the Western Writers of America Best Historical Fiction Awards.

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From the Publisher

Shortlisted for the prestigious Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.1900. Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio in the wake of a terrible scandal. Heartbroken and facing destitution, she finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the recently widowed Oscar Williams. ...

Ann Weisgarber was born and raised in Kettering, Ohio. She has lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and Des Moines, Iowa, but now splits her time between Sugar Land, Texas, and Galveston, Texas. Her first novel The Personal History of Rachel Dupree was longlisted for the Orange Prize and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers. The...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 7.73 × 5.43 × 0.83 inPublished:April 24, 2014Publisher:Pan MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230745679

ISBN - 13:9780230745674

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Customer Reviews of The Promise

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. I read Ann Weisgarber's debut novel, The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, in 2011 and was immediately captured by her storytelling. Weisgarber's latest book, The Promise, did the same, holding me from first page to last. Catherine Wainwright is a talented pianist, making her own way in 1899 Ohio. But she makes the mistake of believing a man's interest in her is true. She is marked as a fallen woman and shunned by her family, friends and acquaintances. The man has no intention of leaving his wife. With no one willing to hire or work with her and her debts mounting, Catherine's plight grows increasingly desperate. She casts about for a man that has not heard of her background, sending out letters to renew ties. One man replies - Oscar Williams. Oscar left Ohio as a young man and eventually landed in Galveston, Texas where he makes his living as a farmer. His wife Bernadette has just died, leaving him to raise their four year old son Andre. A local girl, Nan Ogden made Bernadette a promise - to look after Andre. But when Oscar brings home Catherine as his new wife, worlds, emotions and more collide. Weisgarber has again created very strong, but different, female characters in Catherine and Nan. Both are well drawn, but I found myself drawn more to Nan. Her down to earth, practical attitude belies a caring heart. She is astute enough to sense the attraction between Catherine and Oscar and realize what is inevitable. I had a harder time with Catherine. Although her character transforms as the relationships between the three main characters evolve, I still had a difficult time accepting her. "Oscar ate with the neighbour men and danced with the women, rural unrefined people, but that hadn't mattered to him. He enjoyed their company. He was without pretense and this, I realized, was what drew me to him." She, howeve,r is pretending, hiding her past and the desperate need to flee circumstances of her own making. The narrative is alternated between Catherine and Nan, giving us an insider's view of each woman's thoughts. Interestingly, Oscar is never given a voice of his own. Rather we learn of and about him from each woman's point of view. Weisgarber again draws on historical events to set the backdrop for her novel. I was unaware of the geography and history of Galveston Island. (I did, of course, have to Google it after I finished the book. ) 1900 Galveston was home to one of the US's greatest natural disasters. A hurricane inundated the island and city, killing 6,000 people in the span of a few hours. And this event is pivotal to Weisgarber's story. The setting is a character in the book as well, the heat and the storm almost tangible in Weisgarber's beautifully descriptive passages. Weisgarber has written a story rich with emotion, detail and history - definitely a recommended read. The Promise has been shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
Date published: 2014-05-21