Friday, November 1, 2013

Serena Miller's beatiful novel on marriage, "A Promise to Love"

A Promise to Love   -     
        By: Serena B. Miller
After enduring being mistreated by her employer, Swedish immigrant Ingrid Larsen leaves service, but with nowhere to go.  When a kind widower loses his children to his in-laws, Ingrid speaks up with a proposal of marriage - she will get a home and family, and he will get to keep his children.  Marriage solves their immediate problems, but it creates a whole host of new ones: what do you do with a spouse you don't love?  How do you deal with a spouse who doesn't love you back?  How do you build a loving home with a complete stranger?

Though she writes a well-rounded novel with excellent character development, well-researched history, and a solid plot, Miller does not write about easy subjects.  Marriage between strangers is not a light subject; it involves sacrifice by both parties to survive.  Being unloved is heart-breaking, but being forced to marry while in love with someone else - even if that person is gone forever - is no easier.  

I'm proud of Ingrid - she sticks with the marriage, even after being rejected by her husband; she could easily have walked out on him with an annulment, but she stays to give the children the mother they need.  For all her hard work, she is not a doormat; she sets rules and expects them to be obeyed, especially by her husband.  Even in the face of a loveless marriage, she showers love on the family anyway and perseveres.  It is not easy, and she discovers that she has to do it to please God, since pleasing man is nearly impossible.  She is a model of strength and self-sacrifice. 

At first I was not sure if I was going to enjoy it as much as The Measure of Katie Calloway, but because Miller did not mince on the difficulties of their marriage, but rather focused on how much went into making it work, I ended up really enjoying it.  Really, what man who is in love with his dead wife will be attracted to another woman so soon after her death, especially when she has nothing in common with the deceased?  That alone sets this book apart from so many other stories of arranged marriages -  there is zero attraction on his part.  It felt realistic while I was reading it, and then when I found out that some of that really happened to the author's grandmother, I was even more impressed.  I highly recommend it.  5 out of 5 stars!

Michigan Northwoods
1. The Measure of Katie Calloway
2. Under a Blackberry Moon
3. A Promise to Love

Other recommended reading:
A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund, about immigrants in Michigan
Serendipity by Cathy Marie Hake and A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears, excellent novels about making a marriage work

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