This is one of my book club selections and while I read them all, I don't always like them. But this one was a page turner for me. It started out aboard ship but turned into much more. The story pulls at your heart strings and keeps you wondering how it will all end. I definitely recommend the book.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, and there are several new books on this subject. I have read a few, and I picked this one up thinking it was just another Titanic storyline. But this book is so much more. The story centers around Annie, whose brother Owen and his friend Michael sail on the Titanic for America. Owen dies but Michael lives. Annie and Michael write letters to deal with their grief.
This book not only deals with the Titanic disaster but also World War I and beyond. It is over 400 pages but they are packed with an excellent story. I look forward to the author's next book.
We say we would lay down our life for loved ones as Jesus did for us. Would you do it for your friend? Maybe someone you've only met just months before? Owen was someone who was the image of Christ on earth. He dreams of fulfilling his father's dream and moving him and his sister to live with their aunt and uncle on American soil.
He proceeded to put his sister in a boarding school while he made his way to America to start a new life and make his family's gardens profitable. Owen was a master gardener like his father and had created many new flowers to take to America with him. Once they had enough money he would immediately send for his sister. Annie did not like that plan, but she went along with it. Weeks before Owen was to leave he came upon a young man, Michael, sleeping under a tarp that was meant for the flower beds. The boy was startled, hungry, and dirty but Owen was very friendly. He shared his lunch and hired him to help. They became very good friends.
Michael was orphaned as a young lad and had been abused his whole childhood by his drunk uncle. He and his little sister were eventually sold to two different men. He can never forget his little sister screaming for him as she was carried off by a stranger. Michael didn't know what love was, or that he could actually have a friend who cared about him. Owen was a gift from God, although Michael doesn't realize that until later.
It came time for Michael to leave on the "unsinkable" Titanic. Owen worked it out with the garden owner that Michael would take his place. Michael was beaten by his uncle the previous night with his drunk friends throwing in a kick or two. That morning he found a boarding pass in the gutter and did what he could to look the part of the pass information. IT WORKED! He was aboard the Titanic.
We all know what happened to that beautiful and majestic ship. Let me just tell you, keep those tissues nearby while reading this book.
Annie goes through quite the ordeal after she learns about her brother's fate. She was in need of much healing and deliverance from her bitterness and hatred. She was turning into her Aunt Eleanor and that was not something she wanted.
This is such a great story of God's provision. Life might not be awesome and joyous all the time, but that doesn't mean God has abandoned us! We have hope in Jesus. Throughout the story the main characters strengthen their relationship with God. I highly recommend this book if you like historical fiction. Although this could have very well been the story of someone's life back then. Just when you think you have things figured out something else happens. Cathy Gohlke can really write a great story. Hate, loss, bitterness, hopelessness, doubt, sacrifice, happiness, love, forgiveness, and hope....it's all in this book. I wanted to read this book for the historical factor, but got so much more out of it.
I was not familiar with Cathy Gohlke before this book, but I will definitely be reading more of her in the future!
In this centennial year of the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic, many books have been released about that time and experience, but so far this is the one I have enjoyed the most. What I particularly liked about "Promise Me This" is that Ms. Gohlke wove together two huge milestones and storylines of the 1910's. I'm not sure why, but it never occurred to me before that those affected by the sinking of the Titanic had their worlds rocked again just a few short years later when the Great War broke out. So I really enjoyed the story that Gohlke wrote, taking two very real historical occurrences, and throwing in enough fiction to make it very much come alive, yet I still walked away from the book feeling I learned more about that time period; something that I always look for in the historical fiction I read.
"Promise Me This" is really a beautiful story of family, both biological and those that become like blood relatives through shared life experiences. Though there is more than a fair share of heartache and pain in the story, there is also much "beauty from ashes" as Ms. Gohlke demonstrates the sovereignty of God through both the good and bad times in life. So often as I read this wonderful book, these words from Proverbs ran through my mind, "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."
I would definitely recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction, as well as those who love to see the redemptive work of God's love and mercy portrayed in novels. I look forward to getting my hands on another great book by Cathy Gohlke soon!