Promise Me This, by Cathy Gohlke

 With the new year, I was determined to cut back on the books I accepted for review purposes.  I am very glad that God intervened with this book!  Promise Me This, by Cathy Gohlke, looked promising and is!  It is a work of historical fiction, based around Titanic and World War I.  Though I had never read any of Cathy's previous works, they had good reviews.  That combined with the time setting of Promise Me This, made me want to read it.

Sometimes risks are well-worth it!  This is an excellent book and likely one of my favorites of the year.

Michael Dunnagan is just a boy...but one running from family abuse in England.  He finds himself at the mercy of Owen Allen.  Owen begins to provide for some of Michael's most basic needs.  What he does not realize is that Owen is the first friend Michael has ever had.

Owen loves his sister, Annie, fiercely.  To protect her and prepare a better life for both of them, he makes the arrangements to work with his aunt and uncle in New Jersey in their gardens.  He says goodbye to Annie and sails away on Titanic.

Michael steals away on Titanic in hopes of making a new life for himself in America.  Of course the reader knows that Titanic and many people aboard, meet their doom.  And that is just the beginning of the story.  Cathy Gohlke provides many twists, turns, and surprises in Promise Me This.  I don't want to spoil it for I won't!   The book spans several years with much drama and action.

I will say that Annie's story was one that I could relate to and understand.  Her story also surprised me.  She was a bitter young woman and one very burdened.  She sought refuge at the graves of her parents.  Close to their graves was the tomb of the author of Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan.  (Pilgrim's Progress just happens to be the book club choice for March!)  After a discussion with Owen, this tomb's sculpture of Christian holds something strange for Annie, but it is something that she does not quite understand.  The burden Christian bears is much like her own; she does not realize it.

"Flags flew at half-mast.  Men, and even women, appeared with mourning bands tied around their arms.  Women dressed from head to toe in black.  Buildings of business draped black crepe across their windows.  Between the town and the docks, the trail of those seeking news remained steady."
~ page 107I was amazed at how the people (both in England and America) mourned over the loss of the many lives on Titanic.  

Then when World War I began, it seemed every person supported the war efforts.  And the young men who did not serve were considered cowards on both sides of the Atlantic.  I am amazed and ashamed at how different our country is now.  Without getting political, I will just say that I wish our service men and women were honored and respected much more.  Choosing a military career over "regular" work or continuing education is not an easy choice.

After reading only a few pages I learned that Cathy Gohlke is a local author.  My daughter and I even met her while I was reading the book.

Promise Me This is an excellent book!  (It reminded me a bit of Lynn Austin's works, though it's been years since I read Lynn Austin.)  I definitely recommend it for those of you who enjoy historical fiction!   It was obvious that much research went into it, and it is well-written.

Thank you, Tyndale House, for providing me a copy of Promise Me This for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.


  1. Great post! So glad you got to meet Cathy! I'm a little jealous. :) I reviewed this book as well and the book group I'm apart of just decided last night that "Promise Me This" will be our book of the month!

  2. I've been waiting to read your review on this one after all of your "teasers." ;)

    Ok. You've sold me. I'll hunt a copy down!

  3. Thank you so much for your wonderful review, Annette. It was a joy to meet you and your daughter, and to learn how this story resonated with you. I'm glad God intervened, too! It warms my heart to know of the perfect timing re. "The Pilgrim's Progress." I absolutely love how God goes ahead of us, preparing paths we could never imagine!

    Erin--I'm thrilled that your book group will be reading "Promise Me This!" Within the next few weeks I'll be adding telephone meetings with book groups to my new (almost ready) website. If someone in your group has a speaker phone I could "tele-meet" with your group for 15 or 20 minutes, if you like. That option should be up within the month.

    Carrie--I hope you enjoy the read!

    Blessings to you all!

  4. I am SO mad at myself for not getting this book to review! It's on my "must read" list, though.

    I've have heard nothing but good things about it.

  5. This sounds really intriguing. I just put it on my Amazon wish list.

  6. This book sounds great! And how wonderful to have met the author too.

    1. Oh, it was wonderful to meet Cathy. I will be looking forward to seeing her again at another book signing. I still have to explore her other books, too. :)


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