THE PROMISE

Ann Weisgarber

From the author of The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers and longlisted for the Orange Prize.

1900. Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio in the wake of a terrible scandal. Heartbroken and facing destitution, she finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the recently widowed Oscar Williams. In desperation she agrees to marry him, but when Catherine travels to Oscar’s farm on Galveston Island, Texas—a thousand miles from home—she finds she is little prepared for the life that awaits her.

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From the author of The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers and longlisted for the Orange Prize.

1900. Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio in the wake of a terrible scandal. Heartbroken and facing destitution, she finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the recently widowed Oscar Williams. In desperation she agrees to marry him, but when Catherine travels to Oscar’s farm on Galveston Island, Texas—a thousand miles from home—she finds she is little prepared for the life that awaits her. The island is remote, the weather sweltering, and Oscar’s little boy Andre is grieving hard for his lost mother. And though Oscar tries to please his new wife, the secrets of the past sit uncomfortably between them. Meanwhile for Nan Ogden, Oscar’s housekeeper, Catherine’s sudden arrival has come as a great shock. For not only did she promise Oscar’s first wife that she would be the one to take care of little Andre, but she has feelings for Oscar which she is struggling to suppress. And when the worst storm in a generation descends, the women will find themselves tested as never before.

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  • Skyhorse Publishing
  • Hardcover
  • April 2014
  • 320 Pages
  • 9781629142364

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$24.95

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About Ann Weisgarber

Ann Weisgarber‘s first novel was The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, for which actress Viola Davis’s JuVee Productions has optioned the film rights. For her first novel, Weisgarber was nominated for England’s 2009 Orange Prize and for the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers. In the United States, she won the Stephen Turner Award for New Fiction and the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction. She was shortlisted for the Ohioana Book Award and was a Barnes and Noble Discover New Writer. Weisgarber serves on the selection committee for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction and is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters. Originally from Ohio, she now divides her time between Sugar Land, Texas and Galveston, Texas.

Praise

Warm and winning.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

Excellent use of historical detail and strong character development …it should attract wide readership.”—Library Journal

With The Promise, Weisgarber has delivered a second novel of finely drawn characters anchored by historical events. It’s the sort of tale that you find yourself staying up late at night to finish.”—Dallas Morning News
Based on the true story of one of the deadliest storms in American history, The Promise is the work of a skilled storyteller. Weisgarber (The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, 2010) has written a beautiful, deeply engaging story about love, loss, and the power of secrets to change our lives.”—Booklist

 

Discussion Questions

1. In the prologue, Nan makes a promise to Bernadette. Are there other promises in the novel?

2. The novel has two narrators. Is this Catherine’s story? Or Nan’s?

3. Catherine broke a social taboo by having an affair with a married man. If she did this today rather than in 1900, how might she be treated?

4. Texas has long been a place where people go to escape the past and start anew. Was Oscar able to break free from his past? Was Catherine?

5. Nan is also haunted by the past. Discuss the turning point(s) when she realizes she is ready to look to the future.

6. What is Andre’s importance to the story?

7. Music is featured throughout the novel. What is the significance of the songs and the classical pieces?

8. There are many references to pelicans. What do they mean to the characters?

9. Discuss the role of mothers in The Promise.

10. Discuss the role of fathers.

11. Oscar has been described as a man who honors his commitments to others. Is this his undoing?

12. Most readers are aware that a hurricane will hit Galveston. What were your expectations about the storm? How did you expect the novel to end?