An enchanting and poignant story about the unfailing power of love in a world turned upside down by war - from the best-selling 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.
If you could sum up Promises to Keep in three words, what would they be?
heartrending, hopeful, brutal
What did you like best about this story?
the positive outlook the author put on this impossibly tragic tale
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
more emotion, enunciated the English better, separated the voices better
Any additional comments?
Story 5 stars
Graham’s Promises To Keep is a poignant and brutal reminder that real history is full of victims as well as victors as she retells what really happened in 1755 when the English forcibly expulse the peaceful residents of Acadia in what is present day Nova Scotia. The author uses two voices to tell her story, 1st person of her female lead Amélei Belliveau and 3rd person of Connor MacDonald the English soldier who becomes her unlikely savior, giving readers a unique fly on the wall view of the entire story. The dialogue definitely contains a taste of France and a hint of the Mi'kmaq Indians as she tells her heartbreaking tale of the harrowing journey of these people who lose their homes their land and many lose their lives during their tragic trail of tears. The characters are life like and utterly believable especially her courageous Amélei who suffers unimaginable hardships and still keeps her head held high and hope in her battered heart. Both history fans and lovers of literary historical fiction will devour this amazingly heart-rending novel.
NARRATION: 3 stars
There are a few issues with the audible narration- The narrator Alexis Quednau has Amélei down pat and is the perfect choice for her, however her recitation of the other characters is at times very monotone and non-emotional and lacks the versatility needed for the other parts, especially the male voices. Also her lilting French accent, with which she absolutely nails the French and Mi’kmaq Indian words and makes her perfect for Amélei makes it somewhat difficult to understand some of her enunciations of English. She does however get better with the emotional aspect later on in the novel.
In the mid eighteenth century in Grand Pré, Acadia the non-violent farmers of French descent and the Mi'kmaq Indians share the land and live in peace during the constant turmoil and battles between the French and English armies. But all that changes when in 1755 the English finally defeat the French and the lives of these peaceful people change forever.
Seventeen-year-old Amélei Belliveau and her family have a small farm in Grand Pré, Acadia and are happy to share their bounties with their neighbors and the English army, she has even started a friendship with one of the soldiers, a man who knows all too well what she and her family are going through. But the winds of change are blowing and none of them good when the English turn from neighbors to aggressors and turn the people of her village into prisoners.
Connor MacDonnell finds himself in Acadia as a victim of circumstance belonging to the same English army that ten years earlier killed his parents and destroyed his Scottish way of life. After getting to know Amélei she has become more than important to him and he is determined to ease what he is sure will be a terrifying change for herself, her family and her entire community.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Set against the tumultuous time of 1755 in Acadia, this sweeping family saga and love story tells of the waning days of the French controlling Canada, the British battle to take it, and the poor Acadian farm families caught in the middle. Graham's authentic, heartwrenching, yet hopeful tale focuses in on one Acadian family, the Belliveaus, and a war-weary Scot caught between love, honor, and duty.
Amelie Belliveau watches in horror as the British take everything from her and her family and shatter the loving family who are forced in many directions to survive even while she is conflicted about the feelings she has for one of the soldiers who understands all too well, having been a Scot who survived the English rushing over his Scottish lands and family. Connor MacDonnell swears a promise to her that she holds onto through so much heartbreak and misery. Connor will sacrifice anything to keep that promise and does.
This book had me crying so often that I'm glad I listened to it in the privacy of my own home. Lands, the tears I shed. This was such a heartwrenching story. I've read about the Acadians who were forced off their land onto ships that took them away with little more than the clothes on their backs only to find they were unwanted where they were dumped off elsewhere. I knew it would not be an easy or light story and it wasn't. I was deeply impressed with the author's attention to historic and cultural details and the depth of each character. This is a saga so there are so many characters with Amelie and Connor the central figures. All sides were represented in the cast of characters and I loved seeing it all.
The story is mostly told from Amelie's perspective. She starts off naive yet impetuous and headstrong. Then as events unfold she is forced to mature and grow strong in this trial by fire she endures. Connor, too, is an exceptional man. The pair needed a break and I was really rooting for them. It seemed each time they were going to get their chance, it was not to be and noble sacrifice was called up. Now, I might have cried my eyes out, but I also felt so much more. This was heartwarming and romantic in an understated way. Connor gave so much out of love and Amelie did as well. Others were getting their stories in the background and I was engaged with that, too.
As to the narrator, Alexis Quednau, was a first encounter for me. She had the job of French Acadian accents, British, New Englander, Native American, and oh so many characters with all that glot of emotion, too. I thought she told this one so well. She took the right tone and hit a good balance between inflection of emotion and the distance a good narrator needs so the listener isn't distracted.
So, this was a powerful story that has stayed with me afterward. I've read the author before and know this is not a fluke. She has a way of making history come alive and makes one feel attached to her characters who go through so much.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I have loved every book I've ever read by Genevieve Graham and was so excited to hear one of her books on audio.
Promises To Keep is set in Nova Scotia in the 1750's, during the war between the British and the French. This author is consistently great with relationships in all of her stories, and one example of that here is the friendship between Amelie's friendly, peaceful community and the neighboring Mi'kmaq people. The author is also especially wonderful at laying out her settings. In this case, I feel like I was able to visualize this part of Canada during this time period pretty easily, which is important because the land is key to the events in the story. I love this story and my print copy is going onto my rereads shelf.
This audiobook is made great by its narrator: Alexis Quednau. The narrator is French Canadian; being able to listen to her read the book authentically was delightful because I love when accents are true. I love the way Ms. Quednau pronounced the names of the characters and places in the setting just as the locals would have. She also pronounced the Mi'kmaq words and names correctly, which was wonderful. I am from Eastern North Carolina and do not speak French nor with an accent like this narrator's, so hearing the words spoken accurately added so much enjoyment to my reading experience.
Each time I settled in to listen, I found that after only a few minutes, I fell easily into the story and imagined that it was main character Amelie speaking directly to me. That is what I want when I'm listening to a book: connection directly with the characters. I felt the connection especially in several instances where emotions were heightened, whether the scene was a little on the sad side or when the action was heightened a few times. There were also times when Amelie was alone with her thoughts, and I felt particularly connected with her through the narration.
This is a wonderful story, not only of the alliance between Amelie and the reluctant British officer Connor MacDonnell, but of the resilience of the French Canadian people and the Mi'kmaq, and of the strength of community. I'm looking forward to listening to this one again in the future.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
When the story first begins, Amelie and her family live in a small farming community. Life is good, as in their friendship with the local Mi’kmaq tribe. Britain occupies their land, but her people continue living as they always have. That is until the King gives new orders and life slowly begins to change until nothing is ever the same. One of the young British officers befriends Amelie, who is young, stubborn and often outspoken. What first began as acts of kindness turns into something forbidden. Promise to Keep held me in its grip.
Graham is an eloquent storyteller who weaves history and fictional characters into stories that steal a little piece of your heart. I sighed, grew anxious for characters and wept like a baby on more than one occasion. Everything felt very surreal, from their departure to seeking shelter in an unknown land. I loved the Belliveau family, their friends, and Corporal Connor MacDonnell. Graham fleshed them out and breathed life into them.
Her writing style is poignant and poetic bringing the characters surroundings and circumstance to life. I was with them in the hull of the ship, held my breath when they faced the enemy and wept when they felt loses. I cannot even imagine the research that went into telling this story, but I certainly appreciated how she transported me. She made me research events and break out maps as Amelie and her family traveled to the Americas. I wanted to see pictures of their homeland, of the ports and tribes there.
The romance is subtle, young and powerful. It is one you want to see fulfilled despite the obstacles. While the romance is understated, it impacted the story and the lives of the characters. Graham allowed the reader to hope for a happily ever after despite the obstacles.
The story is narrated by Alexis Quednau whose wide range of accents was impressive. She beautifully captured authentic French, Britsh, Native American, and New Englander accents. For the most part, I enjoyed listening and felt she captured the characters. However, some aspects were very monotone and lacked any inflection. This was particularly true when there was lack of conversation. The audio itself could have been edited better as the narrators swallowing sounds were not removed.