One of my favourite books growing up was a historical novel set around the start of the War of 1812. It told the story of two siblings and their friend, growing up on opposite sides of the river, who suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict as well.
The details from that book stayed with me far longer than anything I learned in history class (sorry, Mr. Klassen!), and the characters were so real to me I can still remember how I felt reading that book.
I’m not sure why it didn’t click for me sooner, but recently I realized that there’s no reason why I can’t continue reading historical fiction. I can definitely stand to learn some more about what’s gone on in the world. But it’s hard for me to just remember facts and dates, so this is a perfect solution.
So I took my first foray back into the world of historical fiction with a piece set in good old Canada.
Promises to Keep is set in 1755, just as the Acadians’ peaceful life in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, comes to an abrupt end. It follows a young woman named Amélie who, along with her family, is forced from the only land she’s ever known. However, one of the British soldiers is a Scotsman who is sympathetic to the plight of the Acadians, but helpless to help them. The two form a connection which deepens into something more – but the two of them are on opposite sides of the conflict. Plus, Amélie and her family are about to be sent south by ship – permanently.
Part tragic family story, part engaging romance, Genevieve Graham pulls her readers in and shows both Nova Scotia’s beauty and the contrasting horror experienced by the inhabitants. She also weaves in the Acadians’ connection with the original inhabitants, the Mi’kmaq.
Although I enjoyed it, Promises to Keep didn’t quite draw me all the way in. I liked the characters, felt for their plight, but I believe its best audience would be late teen/young adults. Or maybe it’s just me! 🙂 That being said, I learned a lot about this portion of Canadian history; I didn’t know about anything about the Acadians or the conflict in Nova Scotia.
Graham has written several other historical fiction works, which I believe are all set in Canada. I will definitely keep her work in mind as I look to explore more in the genre.