Michael Dunnagan survived the sinking of the Titanic, thanks to the courage of Owen Allen, and promised to help Owen's family, his younger sister, Annie, in England and the rest of the family living in New Jersey, since Owen could not. Michael started to communicate to Annie through letters, but her anger over her brother's death was steeped in each of her responses. Eventually, Annie begins to lay aside her anger and their letters become friendlier. Michael saves up enough money to bring Annie to America just as WWI breaks out in Europe...then all communication with Annie ceases!
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Customer Reviews for Promise Me This
Review 1 for Promise Me This
A dear Favorite
Date:September 11, 2012
I just finished this book, tears still rolling down my cheeks. Cheesy I know but words will not be able to tell the feelings I have after reading this book. A love story born out of severe trails bringing us to a captured close. At times it felt I could not breathe as I struggled with Annie and Michael's pain and struggles. Sifting through the loss of family and friends around them to finally end in loving arms. This story is a must read to all to understand God's journey bringing us to abundance in His time.
Late at night, after turning the last page, I wrote my review with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes. Merciful father, I think the one word that comes to mind is powerful. I don't know about anyone else but a happy ending is one of the things I look for in a story. And with this one, I wasn't sure what to expect. As things got intense - I mean INTENSE- emotionally, there were many times that I had to physically separate myself from the book. I felt like a swimmer, drowning in this pool of overflowing emotions, gasping for air and saying out loud many times that I could count...' God help me, I can't go on.' This is no small read. Masterfully and carefully penned. Profound. Deep. Heartbreaking and heart wrenching . I've never wept so much in a story (This is no joke, keep that tissue box seriously close if you're going to read this). There were times I felt SO frustrated, because there's a character in the novel whose behaviour is horrifying! I laughed out loud at times and my heart melted when I considered how inspiring many of these characters are. There is a happy ending. The characters' developments, their maturities and their strengths are beautifully portrayed and the conclusion is just breathtaking. I have to be honest, I don't think that I will pick this up again. The journey was really though emotionally and if you're considering this book, maybe my opinion could help? Get ready to immerse yourself into another time and another place. Owen Allen, Michael, Annie, Maggie, Daniel, The Spragues... Such wonderful people and I am glad I got to know them. Promise me this, A story of sacrificial love.
Annie Allen is the last surviving member of her family. Her mother died in childbirth, her father died in an accident, and her older brother Owen died on the Titanic. Left to live with her revengeful, manipulative aunt, Annie finds herself fighting to keep her soul hopeful and unembittered. Through letters to the boy Owen saved and under the watchful eye of the executor of her family's will, Annie begins to put the pieces of her life back together. Then WWI arrives, and everything Annie has worked so hard to rebuild is destroyed yet again.
I am not a huge fan of Christian Women's literature, but this book caught me completely off guard. It is almost an adventure story, where the characters are thrown obstacle after obstacle and somehow manage to survive. Spanning two continents helps to add to the drama, as does utilizing the sinking of the Titanic and WWI, but most of the suspense actually comes in the relational dynamics between the different characters - something I really enjoyed.
There is violence - the death and destruction surrounding the Titanic and WWI are described with enough detail to justify Annie's depression and despair. There is not much language, just period slang inserted for 'flavor'. Some innuendo, which is expected given the relationship which develops between Annie and Michael.
My biggest gripe is that the book ended too quickly. I can understand why it ends like it does; as it stands the story still manages to cover two major historical events spanning a decade and two continents plus a large cast of characters. But this leaves some events and characters underdeveloped. I wish they had broken up the novel into a series and finished fleshing everything out instead of fitting the entire epic between two covers.
Cathy Gohlke has written a phenominal emotional and poignant novel based on the happenings of the times around the sinking of the great Unsinkable Ship the Titanic and the War to end all wars World War I. The reader is drawn to the gutter rat – Irish orphan and abused child Michael Dunnigan and the up and coming gardener Owen Allen and his orphan sister Annie. Loyalty and generosity are perhaps their biggest and at the same time worst virtue. Enter Aunt Elizabeth, jealous, bitter and everything evil. How this all contects together, is for you, the reader to find out. Christ's unending, unconditional love shines brighter against the dark background of the world and this brilliant light shines through the book. There were times when my heart was heavy and I hardly wanted to turn the page for fear of what would come to view about the world and the lives of the characters of Promise Me This, but then, I needed to find out how things would end. I have read enough novels of this type that end realistically, not necessarily as I as the reader would want them to. This novel is very well written, and the discriptions of first of all the Titanic as well as the world as it was then very vivid. I could almost see the massive amounts of plants and luxuries afforded to those sailing in the ship, and the countryside in New Jersey at the nurseries. The war scenes were just as graphic, and those that have too much imagination might want to skim over parts of this. But don't let that stop you from picking up an awesome novel. Right and Good does triumph over Evil.
You may purchase this book anywhere great novels are sold.
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.
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Review 9 for Promise Me This
Date:June 14, 2012
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Normally I don't like books about great disasters but this one totally drew me in.
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!
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Review 11 for Promise Me This
Date:June 1, 2012
Promise Me This takes place just before the Titanic sets sail and goes through the end of Word War I and is set in Ireland, England, and America. From the very first page, this book grabbed me and I didn’t want to put it down. I loved the story line as well as the historical period it was set in. Annie’s story captured me, from her being an orphan watching her brother set sail on the Titanic, then loosing her brother when the ship sinks, to dealing with her aunt. But the other characters around her were not overshadowed by her. They each had their own story and history that was unique. But I felt like I was reading about real people. This was an amazing book. I look forward to sharing it with my friends and family and reading.
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.
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Review 13 for Promise Me This
A promise is a promise!
Date:April 20, 2012
Wonderfully written. I really enjoyed this book and certainly would have finished it in one day, if life (work) had not interfered! The Titanic and its story have mesmerized many people, including myself. This story takes that tragedy and brings hope and joy to some of those impacted by it. Historical references really showed what was happening in the world around that time and were skillfully woven into the story.
This was my first book by Cathy Gohlke. I really looked forward to reading this story. Although it was different than what I had expected, it was a good read and beautifully written.
Owen and Allie Allen are brother and sister. Their parents died and young Allie went to live with their mean aunt Eleanor in England. Owen saved money to sail to America to help an Aunt and Uncle with their garden business. Owen sails to America first with the promise to get Allie as soon as he has earned enough money. Owen has a golden heart and takes pity on a stowaway on board Titanic.
Michael has ran away from the horrible life he lived with his abusive uncle. He is surprised by the love that Owen shows for him when he finds him on board Titanic. Owen is planning a new life for Michael in America and is teaching him all about plants and seeds. When the disaster happens with Titanic Owen gives Michael a chance for a future.
When Michael comes to America he is lovingly adopted by Aunt Maggie and Daniel. He's a hard worker and helps to make the gardens profitable. He's working hard to earn enough money to get Annie to America, meanwhile the two start writing letters.
Annie has a lot to adapt to after Owen left. She starts to love Michaels letters, but when WWI breaks out something happens and no one hears anything from Annie anymore. What happened? Is she safe?
There surely happens a lot in this story, many years pass. And sometimes I wondered if some parts could have left out. Therefor I give 4 stars instead of 5. The writing is pleasant, the research well done, the characters are very real. Altogether this makes a good story!
I started reading this book thinking it was about the Titanic...it is so very much more! We all know the out come of the ships fate, and when you get engrossed in this story, you hope beyond hope that the all the character's we have now met on the ship will survive. Of course, this is a fictional story based on fact. Owen Allen is such a great God loving Character, with such a big heart. His sister Annie has not had an easy life, her parents are deceased, and she has been living with her Aunt Eleanor, the Devil Incarnate! Owen wants to send for her as soon as he has enough money, and have her come to America. Michael Dunnagan, has also had a very rough life, and becomes a stowaway on the Titanic, and is helped and loved by Owen. Owen embraces him and has him sew his plants and seeds into his coat, to plant his Allen's Run Garden in New Jersey...in America! Once we get to New Jersey we meet Owen's Aunt and Uncle that take Michael under their wings and give him the first home he can ever remember. There is so much emotion packed into this book, there are heart wrenching times, and so much love...and throughout it all I see God's hand! This book then takes us on a journey of World War I, and the flu epidemic. So very much is packed into this unforgettable book...I LOVED it!!
I received this book from the Publisher Tyndale, and was not required to give a positive review!
This book was written to cover over a 4 year time line, so there was a lot going on in such a time span, that the author could have made this book longer or into two separate books. I would have loved it either way.
At times I was left wanting more, more details of what was happening. Like the time that Annie and the Sprague ladies were kicked off the train. I wanted to know more about the adventure and the people they met along the way, instead of the short version in a few paragraphs. And here is were I could see young Annie trapping around in a fancy dress walking along the railway with a parasol or something, looking weary.
For just an inkling of a second in about 75% through, I thought it was going to happen, the dreaded "rush and get this book over with". But it didn't! It kept right on going like a book should. This author surely did not rush the end so she could finish up and move on to something else.
I learned some new things about Titanic that I did not know, and some information about WW1. So I did get some history lessons in here.
I did some highlighting (kindle version) of some quotes that really struck a cord with me, that I wanted to keep. Like this conversation: "That's all there is to it," she said as if she'd heard his thoughts. "Each morning, when we wake -if we wake- we pick up whatever it is we've been given to carry for that day, with the sweet Lord Jesus in the yoke beside us to tote the load. Each night we lay it down, giving it into God's hands. If it is still there in the morning, we pick it up and begin again. If the burden is gone or if there is something different, we know where to start." Those are such profound words of encouragement. There are conversations like that through out the book. If anything, this book will teach you to rely on God's faithfulness, and how bitterness can consume you and keep you away from God's love. I received this book from Tyndale for free for an honest review.
Promise Me This is a novel of epic proportions, spanning tumultuous years of tragedy and hope.
Michael Dunnagan is an orphan fleeing his abusive uncle, when he crosses paths with Owen Allen, who swiftly takes Michael under his wing. That predestined meeting sets off a chain of events that only God could find a way to use for good. And the Titanic is only the beginning.
Told with a smooth style that allows the reader to be swallowed up into the drama, Promise Me This holds on tight and doesn't let go until the final page is turned down. I found myself lost for hours on end, unwilling to put the book down until I found out what happened next. This is one of those rare books that eludes description, it left me speechless as to how to properly portray it in a way even close to doing it justice.
To me, the characters were real, and I was standing right there with them through it all. My favorite character was Michael because of his unflagging determination to fulfill the promises he made to Owen and to himself. It was inspiring to see his faith grow from doubting to willing to trust God no matter the cost, even if it wasn't what Michael wanted--even if it hurt.
Richly woven with threads of love, sacrifice, loss, tragedy, and hope, written with a style that fills the senses, actually taking me there, Promise Me This would be a tragedy to miss!
Wow. Cathy packed so much into this book! From the Titanic to zeppelin raids, she kept me surprised with every turn of the page. Near the end of the book, just when I thought everything was going to turn out ok, she threw in another twist. Then another. I really had no idea if the final outcome would end to my satisfaction!
Love, hate, bitterness, guilt, fear, grace, and forgiveness - it's all in there! Promise Me This put me into past-midnight-reading-mode for two nights straight.
*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given, and all thoughts are 100% mine.*
If you love historical novels you must read this new one by Christy Award winner, Cathy Gohlke. Promise Me This is a riveting story that begins with a journey on the Titanic and continues through WWI. In it, we meet Owen Allen—the loving, gentle man who tries his best to care for his little sister as well as the hungry teen boy he finds roaming the streets of London. Owen has a dream of a better life for his sister and sets out to meet distant relatives in America in order to make his dreams come true. His sister Annie has many hurdles to cross as she tries to make her way in the world after her brother’s untimely death. Then there is Michael Dunnagan, the hungry orphan who gets a chance at a better life because of Owen’s sacrifice.
While all of the characters are realistic and interesting I found myself especially drawn to Michael. The story of his beginnings and hardships fascinated me and I thrilled as I saw how he grasped the opportunities afforded him and created a better life for himself. His gratitude to Owen and his determination to become a good man just like him was very moving. Equally as moving were Owen’s sacrifices to assure that those he loved had a better chance at life. Annie’s character rounded out the story perfectly with her many struggles to protect her loved ones and survive insurmountable odds. In many ways, this novel reminded me of a Dickens tale with all the different characters and story lines woven together.
When you find a story that not only holds your attention but also has a satisfying ending, you feel your reading time was well spent. When you can also add to that the elements of Godly character, Christian sacrifice and spiritual growth of the people in the story you have found a rare and wonderful book to be read over and over as well as shared with others. This is such a book. I give it six out of five stars.
I received this complimentary copy from Tyndale House Publishers for this review. A positive review was not required and the opinions expressed here are my own.