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Piper Huguley’s The Preacher’s Promise

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.”—Daniel 3:17

1866 – Oberlin, Ohio
Devastated by her father’s death days after her triumphant graduation from Oberlin College, Amanda Stewart is all alone in the world. Her father’s unscrupulous business partner offers her an indecent proposal to earn a living. Instead, to fulfill a promise she made to her father, she resolves to start a school to educate and uplift their race. Sorting through her father’s papers, she discovers he had carried on a mysterious correspondence with a plantation in Milford, Georgia. She determines to start her teaching work with the formerly enslaved. However, when she arrives, the mayor tells her to leave. There’s no where for her to go.

Virgil Smithson, Milford’s mayor, blacksmith and sometimes preacher man with a gift for fiery oratory, doesn’t want anything to do with a snobby schoolteacher from up North. On top of everything else, the schoolteacher lady has a will hard enough to match the iron he forges. He must organize his fellow formerly enslaved citizens into a new town and raise his young daughter alone. Still, his troubled past haunts him. He cannot forget the promise he made to his daughter’s mother as she died—that their child would learn to read and write. If only he didn’t have secrets that the new schoolteacher seems determined to uncover.

To keep THE PREACHER’S PROMISE, Amanda and Virgil must put aside their enmity, unite for the sake of a newly-created community in a troubling age, and do things they never imagined. In the aftermath of the flood that was the Civil War, God set his bow upon the earth to show love and understanding for humankind. To reflect God’s promise, these combatants must put aside their differences and come together–somehow.

Review

I stumbled across this book due to the wonders of Twitter. And since I love, love, love to read diverse books, so glad I did. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The time period. The novel takes place in 1866 which is strange time in America for black Americans. Not all black Americans were ex-slaves at that time as Amanda embodies. Amanda represents the lives of blacks who had been free for generations and went to college and generally speaking, lived like the majority. And then’s there’s Virgil, who was a slave for most of his life. I loved the way the author was able to show the difference in their lifestyles and their way of thinking when they came across various challenges.

Virgil. He was my favorite character in the book. I loved everything about him. I loved that he bought himself out of slavery and rose above his situation. And yet still had to deal with the fact that there was slavery. He’s a mayor of his community and looked up to even though he is still very much learning what freedom for ex slaves means now.

Romance. The romance surprised me a bit but in a good way. Amanda and Virgil have nothing in common except that they have the same color of skin. Watching them being forced to interact was very entertaining.

Spiritually, the novel has a beautiful theme of forgiveness and how if you don’t forgive, you create a prison of your own.

What I didn’t like:

Amanda makes a decision about 80% into the novel that I didn’t care for, but it only last for about a chapter.

Romantic Scale: 8

Overall, I am so glad I stumbled across this novel. It’s so different than what is usually out there and I look forward to reading more books by Piper Huguley.

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