Friday, 31 May 2013

The Promise - Ann Weisgarber

The Promise

I didn't read Ann Wiesgarber's first book, so I came new to this author. If you like a story told by more than one character, like me, you will certainly be drawn to this book.
It's the story of two women. Two women who love one man. But it isn't a slushy tale of romance at all - in fact, the story is built around the hurricane that struck the island of Galveston, Texas in 1900; the worst natural disaster of the 20th century in the US. The two women could not be more alike - Catherine, a woman shunned by her family and friends for carrying on an affair with a married man; and Nan, an illerate young housekeeper, caring for the widower and son of her friend recently dead of malaria.
It's easy to tell who is talking as each chapter begins - Catherine is well educated, and has faultless manners, whilst Nan is a country girl, a homebody. The each love Oscar, a dairy farmer, in a different way, one for saving her reputation, and one because, well, just because. I don't want to say any more about these relationships because they are what the book is all about, and they are what makes the book worth reading. The storm itself happens towards the end of the book, but the descriptions of it and the aftermath, are chilling, and based on actual happenings.
Well written, background well researched, and a read that grips the heart because it is set at a time when people knew their place, and bad choices in life had to be paid for. There is a child in the story, too. Andre, who misses his mother, loves the housekeeper, and shys away from the new wife of her father. Great skill in describing how a child might feel when presented with a new "mama" when the grieving for the old one is not yet passed.