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Monday, 4 February 2013

The Promise by Ann Weisgarber, the Galveston Hurricane

I loved Ann Weisgarber's other novel, so couldn't wait to grab this when it came up on Vine. Lovers of literary or historical fiction will find this a fascinating account of the Galveston disaster - a hurricane and tidal wave that swept the shores of Texas at the turn of the 20th century.

The two women telling the story have very distinct voices and I felt myself alternately rooting for first one and then the other.From different backgrounds, the two women are forced into each others company by their relationships with the same man, Oscar, and the child, Andre, left behind after the death of his first wife.

The relationship between the women is naturally uncomfortable, but this is subtly drawn, and never vocalised. The two main characters, Catherine and Nan, each tell it how it was for them, their view of the other, and great tension arises from this. The settings are so real you think you have been there. When the hurricane strikes the drama is all in the characters - in a way they make an impression far bigger than the hurricane, though that too is beautifully descibed. Poignant and moving, I was gripped and stayed up late to finish it - highly recommended.

I'd never heard of this hurricane or Galveston, so I have been educated as well as entertained.
If you want to know more about the disaster, then here is the wiki link
File:Carrying bodies, Galveston hurricane, 1900.jpg
after the hurricane


  1. Thank you, Dee. I'm thrilled you enjoyed The Promise. Those of us near the coast of Texas are aware of the 1900 Storm but it's been forgotten by most people in the States.

    In 1900, though, Queen Victoria agreed to be a patron for the Galveston relief effort. So did Princess Alexandra, the Duchess of Marlborough, and the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough. Sir Thomas Lipton, of tea fame, sent $500.

    These are just a few examples of Galveston/England connections.

  2. How interesting. To attract that sort of attention over here in England, the disaster must have been truly distressing. After reading your book it made me curious to find out more and I googled a bit online - that's what is wonderful about historical fiction - one snippet can lead to a whole new area of interest and lead us to discover more information about our hidden pasts. Thanks so much for a wonderful read.

  3. So glad the book inspired you to learn more about the storm. Other interesting connections to England (at least I think so!) are the ships from England that were in Galveston's port. One captain from Liverpool rescued people who had washed into the bay and when Clara Barton arrived days after the storm, he worked with her to ferry supplies from Houston to Galveston.

    Lots of stories!

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