The Promise – Ann Weisgarber

The Promise

Published
14/03/2013

Publisher
Mantle

ISBN
9780230745650

My Rating
4 stars

Ann Weisgarber’s debut novel The Personal History of Rachel Dupree was shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers and longlisted for the Orange Prize in 2009.  Her second novel The Promise looks like it will attract similar plaudits.

Set in the US in 1900, we are told the story of young pianist Catherine Wainright who is left in desperate circumstances following an inappropriate liaison with a married man.  Shunned by the “proper” folk of Dayton, Ohio she grasps at straws in an effort not to be totally “ruined”.  By reigniting a friendship with a former admirer she manages to rescue her reputation but this requires her moving a thousand miles away to Galveston Island, Texas.  Her rescuer, recently widowed dairy farmer Oscar Williams is a quiet, reserved man but he does his utmost to help Catherine settle in.

This is a compelling read peopled with characters who will engage the reader.  Catherine sticks out like a sore thumb with her townish ways but you feel for her as she struggles to adjust to reduced circumstances, a stifling climate and a grieving step-son, Andre.  Whilst Oscar’s housekeeper, Nan Ogden, does not overtly reject the new Mrs Williams she feels unable to give a wholly warm welcome to the newcomer.

I loved the vivid descriptions of the island and you get a very strong sense of the isolation of the islanders, always at the mercy of the elements, both the sweltering sun and the unpredictable waters.  Equally prevalent in the story is the theme of music and how it affects people’s emotions, creating a spark between Catherine and Oscar, building bridges  between Catherine and Andre  and, in Nan’s case, resurrecting feelings she’d prefer to keep buried.

A powerful, moving story which is sure to garner even more fans for this talented author.

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One Comment

  1. Elena says:

    It is such a great book and Ann is both a lovely person and a great writer!

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