Ok, so looking for something ‘bippity bop’ and light-hearted to see me through a marathon Paris to Newcastle Megabus journey, I downloaded the four books in Shayne Parkinson’s Promises to Keep series, which, in order are : Sentence of Marriage; Mud and Gold; A Second Chance; and Settling the Account.
Beware. That is all I can say. You will be completely consumed by the world surrounding Amy, a fifteen year old girl living in late-nineteenth century rural New Zealand. At first, you manage to convince yourself that it is some sort of Cinderella story. Then, you realize things won’t turn out as you hoped, but try to believe that things will work out for the best. These books, however, are heartbreaking. Actually, the fourth one mercifully clears a lot up, but seriously, think Tess of the D’urbervilles on steroids. This isn’t some historical rags to riches romance. This is a real representation of the state of women’s rights in the 1800s, and New Zealand, in my opinion, is a great place for a setting, as one of the first countries to give votes to women. This book shows quite clearly that suffrage did not mean equality in the slightest. I’m really going to try not to insert any spoilers, but there are things I can’t help but mention.
1. I Hate Susannah. She is a vile, moany bitch who makes everyone around her miserable, and is indirectly responsible for all of Amy’s problems.
2. Jimmy is the standard fool. Charming, worldly city dweller seduces country girl then runs away and leaves her to deal with the consequences of their actions.
3. Charlie. Oh Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. As this review is of the series at large, I am very confused at what to write. I hated him, then pitied him, then sympathized, then hated, then was ultimately very frustrated. An awful husband, it isn’t until his dying moments that a glimpse of a good person comes through, and you ever so frustratingly see how different his marriage could have been. I want to hate him so much, but after that scene I just can’t.
These books have amazing characters, the setting is rich, and if you are at all interested in Women’s Rights, particularly at that time, then you should definitely read this. Alternately, if you are purely a masochist who wants to sob into your ice cream while reading this heart wrenching saga, then all i can say is good luck, and that it will be worth it in the end.