Book Jacket

 

rank 5938
word count 22796
date submitted 30.09.2009
date updated 18.10.2009
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historic...
classification: universal
incomplete

Promise of a Man

Michael Lindley

Trying to move beyond the betrayal of those he has loved, a man finds his life will require its own measure of deceit and compromises.

 

Mathew Coulter is a reluctant war hero from the battlefields of France in WWI, heir to a family fortune borne of the illegal liquor trade in Prohibition-era Atlanta, and seemingly doomed to be abandoned or betrayed by the women he loves. Seeking sanctuary in the remote village of Grayton Beach on the northern Gulf Coast of Florida in 1926, he wants nothing more than to leave the past behind and take time to set a new course in his life.

Soon he finds himself caught up in the struggles of several local inhabitants of the little town that bring him to face bitter life choices; a divorced innkeeper who is caring for her blind and gifted granddaughter, abandoned by her mother who is off in a downward spiral of drinking, drugs and dangerous men in New Orleans; a scheming gangster and his promiscuous wife on the run from the law and his rivals in the North; and a beautiful young woman who again steals his heart, but whose motives become increasingly suspect.

 
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tags

, beach, betrayal, florida, gangsters, historical, love, prohibition, relationships, southern

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47 comments

 

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Betty K wrote 1757 days ago

This is absolutely gripping. Right from the first paragraph I knew it belonged on my shelf. Going by your pitch, the plotline is compelling. It's late now and I have only been able to read the first chapter but it is wonderfully executed; both in narrative and dialogue. It's definitely shelved and will be back for more. I love historical fiction and this is excellent.

Betty K "The Huguenot's Destiny"

Pecos wrote 1617 days ago

Well done. Still reading but have been impressed enough to highly recommend.

J&M JENSEN wrote 1691 days ago

PROMISE OF A MAN:

Very well crafted story, perfect pace and good smooth read. The kind of book one might read to the end without actually intending to. The story really draws you in and the charaters are well rounded. What really stands out to me is the dialogue, it's sparse and to the point, which in my opinion is the secret. So many people fall down in this area. I'm convinced this will do very well and I wish you all the best on your climb to the ed's desk.

J&M Jensen
(Graemor)

Val-Rae Christensen wrote 1727 days ago

This is one of my favourite periods of history. And this book is....*sigh* amazing! Superb craftsmanship. Shelved!!!

Freddie Omm wrote 1729 days ago

one of the strongest pieces of historical fiction i've read in a long time, this open with morphine, terrible wounds, the destruction and the pity of war .

the setting is one which is curiously underexplored, in comparison with other periods, and this is a strength in itself . because WW1 is of endless facination, and touches on deep reserves of folk memory, collective trauma still alive today, only a handul of generations on . .

compellingly written prose, a judicious selection of scenes, this is all utterly gripping and involving .

shelved, and wishing you well with this .

freddie
("honour")

brinskie1 wrote 1733 days ago

Michael,

The strength of your pitch drew me to read several chapters of " Promise of A Man ".

The hospital opening immediately brought to mind Dalton Trumbo's classic " Johnny Got His Gun ", though the burdens faced by Mathew Coulter and Johnny differ greatly.

You have created intriguing plot lines, developed at a pace that struck a chord with me. Coulter is crafted in flesh and blood and the peripheral cast contains depth as well.

I do, however, believe this work could be made more appealing to the publishing community with a simple edit.
Areas seem a bit heavy with adverbs, adjectives, and other words unnecessary in relating the tale. I think, with some tightening, this work could find its way to bookstores.

I am including some examples from chapter one for your consideration. Again, this is merely my opinion.

" Yes I know," she said, with a pleasant smile spreading across her face.
- " Yes I know," she said, a smile crossing her face.

For the first time I saw that they ran from my ankle to the top of my thigh.
" I saw " already implies it is the first time he has seen the bandages and we know it is his thigh.
- I saw they ran from ankle to upper thigh.

I laughed and then had the sudden thought that it had been much too long since I had any reason to laugh
or smile.
- I laughed, unable to recall the last time I had reason to feel happy.

She looked at me without answering, considering the request.
- She paused, considering the request.

Shame and guilt can be a heavy load at times.
- Shame and guilt can be a heavy load.

Regardless of what I deem minor problems, I am putting this on my bookshelf due to deft execution in plotting and characterization.

G.
Einstein's Road Trip



soutexmex wrote 1741 days ago

BACKING because Bob Steele did and I trust his instincts. Think you can make it to the Ed's desk with this effort. I'll swing by later to give you a right and proper comment.

Do look forward to your comments on my book when you get a chance. Cheers!

JC
The Obergemau File

lynn clayton wrote 1744 days ago

Michael, a wonderful cast of characters amid a moving story which should prove very popular. Wish you success with this. Shelved. Lynn

Bob Steele wrote 1745 days ago

Promise of a Man is a well written story that evokes the period of the First World War and the conflict between generations within a family convincingly. You have created strong characters and a well-paced narrative that I'm happy to back.
A few areas to think about for editing, though. First, C1 is very long, and although it's all to do with Mathew and Celeste I suggest you either split it into two, or make it leaner. Second, by the time I got to C4 I found lots of 'ing' words [wandering, standing, looking, walking etc] in the way, which slowed me down. These are usually attached to 'was' and put the narrative into the past, distancing the reader from the action [usually] unnecessarily. Try [eg] 'I walked' instead of 'I was walking' - this moves the reader much closer to your character and adds immediacy to the the situation - at least, it does for me. If you dig them all out, you might be surprised how much tighter the narrative gets - I know I was when I tried it. All the best.

Shayne Parkinson wrote 1746 days ago

Michael, the fact that I've read all you've uploaded and wish there was more shows how engrossing I found "Promise". Mathew is such a sympathetic character. He endures the war and injury, then has happiness snatched away when he loses Celeste. And then he loses Hanna in such a wrenching, heartbreaking way, on the same night that he witnesses the darker side of his father's business dealings.

Your descriptions are lovely, my favourites being those of Grayton Beach. It seemed such a peaceful haven after his experiences in Atlanta, but Seth brought a darker feel. You've established a great cast of characters already - so soon after meeting them, I find myself hoping that Rebecca will *not* marry Seth.

There's a lovely flowing narrative style, with a wistfulness to Mathew's recollections that makes me *long* to see him find happiness.

Two tiny nitpicks: in Ch. 1 "more *that* a few inches". In Ch. 2 you use "new husband" twice in the same paragraph - perhaps you could drop the second "new".

I found this truly engaging.

Shelved.

Clare Stephen wrote 1747 days ago

My word, this is good. One of the best things I have read on this site. Your first paragraph is mesmerising, the rest flows seemlessly from there. Really good work. Easily shelved. Clare (Second Lives)

Cait wrote 1748 days ago

Promises of Man:

Michael, I was glad they didn’t amputate Mathew’s leg.

This reminded me, also, of The English patient. Your writing is very good and you have a good ear for dialogue.

I agree with Shoshanna about the last line. But a great read all the same.

Already backed.

Cáit ~ Muckers ~

TJONES wrote 1749 days ago

The beginning on this is great, it is a real grabber. I love all the converstation. Easy book to read. Best of luck with this.

cat5149 wrote 1749 days ago

Hi Michael,

The story of Celeste and Matthew is so moving I couldn't stop reading. All the characters are well defined and the prose and dialogue move the story along nicely. I'm a big fan of historical fiction and this is one of the best I've read on Authonomy. Good luck with it.

Carol

Jill H. O'bones wrote 1749 days ago

Good story and characters. Moves kind of slow. (Maybe more descriptions?)

Backed

Jill

Urania wrote 1750 days ago

Hi Michael, this has a superb pitch, lovely writing and I could immediately empathise with the MC. The plot looks as if it's going to be a scorcher too. You have a lovely way with words, both narrative and dialogue. My only suggestion would be to do some more showing rather than telling, for example, the romantic scenes with Celeste, this would truly bring it all to vivid life. But I love this, great period to be writing about and super intriguing. Shelved.

Andrew W. wrote 1750 days ago

Promise of a Man

Hi Michael,

This is lovely, really envisaged so well. From the opening morphine scene to the brief reflections on how long it had been since he had been able to truly smile, it is these bits of attention to detail that make it all come alive for us. We immediately want it to be better for him, he has been through hell, he deserves a break. You create tension in that opening paragraph but also great sympathy for him in his predicament. There is a sensitivity to the writing that promises hope and redemption and opportunity after the bleakness of the trenches. It is an interesting period of human history and there is a whimsical tone behind the words that is endearing and generates an intrisically interesting narrative voice. Great writing, hoping it is all right for him. This will get a spin on my shelf. If you have time to swing by my book that'd be great.

Best wishes and good luck
Andrew W.
(Sanctuary's Loss)

Kim Jewell wrote 1750 days ago

Hi Michael!

War stories and literary fiction are not usually my cup of tea, your plotline is gripping, and I think this has potential to appeal to a pretty large audience. Your writing is fluid, characters very well developed, and I'm happy to try to help this along. Backed with my best wishes for you!

Kim
Invisible Justice

Angela Lett wrote 1750 days ago
Angela Lett wrote 1750 days ago

I think this is wonderful. The writing is clean and measured - formal even - and perfectly in keeping with era and class, ensuring the story (and all its nuances) is laid bare for the reader to enjoy. Absolutely on my shelf. Angela.

Phil Rowan wrote 1751 days ago

This is an excellent story, Michael. I was very taken with the way you started - first Paris in 1918 at the end of the First World War and then moving to Georgia in 1926. Mathew is a strong main character with whom one can empathise and I particularly liked your use of the first person, which works well. Backed with pleasure and wishing you well on the road to publication, which Promise of a Man deserves. Phil Rowan (Weimar Vibes)

dave_ancon wrote 1751 days ago

Michael, this is the stuff I like to read. You have a great voice and the premise shows promise. I like a story that moves along well, like yours. You have a smooth voice and the dialogue is very believable. I'll gladly back this for you. -- Dave

BexMcK wrote 1751 days ago

This is a classic war story, told very well. The opening scene reminded me a bit of Cold Mountain, and powerfully of Guy Clark's perfect song, Soldier's Joy (and if you haven't heard it, find it and listen to it!).
My one quibble about chapter 1- it's perhaps too long. I always think a first chapter should be short and snappy, to hook the reader in without developing the plot too much- and it should always end with a question...to keep the reader turning the pages.
Great stuff- keep working on it, because it's gonna be fantastic.
Cheers,
BexMcK (Matter Out of Place)

StirlingEditor wrote 1751 days ago

Michael,
I've had your book on my shelf for a couple of days, but have only just now had time to comment. This promise of a love story, this nurse and soldier affair, this story of a time and place long gone (though timeless as it is) all conspired to hook me into your prose. And I was hooked. I rather liked the humor in this story too. Refreshing sometimes, particularly as your story deals with a great deal of pain and loss for the main character.

I've only the read the first chapter thus far, so I might be off the mark, but this first section seems like it would make a better fit for flashbacks or memories past the mid-point of the book. It's the classic method of showing the MC first in the present day, as the man he has become. It is only much later, when we are desperate to learn about his past, that writers usually fill those mysterious pieces into the story. It is, of course, another layer of tension for the reader, this not knowing. But again, I may be quite wrong, as I've not had time to read further as yet.

But I love your writing style, and the promise of this story. Best of success with this project.

~Cheri
Artemis Rising

dana bagshaw wrote 1751 days ago

The rhythmn and flow of your writing draws me in. A gripping story as well.

Pia wrote 1752 days ago

Dear Michael.

Promise of a Man - I am hooked, engrossed, is the word. A sensitive and intelligent story of a very marked period in history.
Difficult to stop reading.

Pia (Course of Mirrors)

Heikki Hietala wrote 1753 days ago

Hi Michael,

I think you grab the reader better than most of th ebooks here; you also present an immaculate image of the period and people. This is one of the books I'd like to see in print so as to get the object in my hands in an armchair on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Hope you get to the ED

Heikki

Venusu wrote 1753 days ago

What a moving, riveting tale, without a word put wrong. I felt for everyone. Masterfully done!
V
Hawaiian Orchid

LouH wrote 1753 days ago

What a great story! I'd planned to read a chapter or two and ended up reading all you have posted. Your story line is fascinating ... this period of time is so interesting and so much you can do with it. Mathew (sp?) is a great character with all too human weaknesses but with so much potential. I'm hoping he has the strength and means to withstand the power of his family.

Can't wait to read the entire book. You'll go on my shelf so I can watch it rise to the top. Best of luck to you.
Lou H - American Kin: Choices

C.P. wrote 1753 days ago

At first the story line kind of reminded me of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway. Not a shabby comparison. This was nicely written.

A little nit- Celeste looks at his leg and said, "I must get the doctor to look at this.' But it as if Matt doesn't hear her. He is more concerned with who she is waiting for rather then what could be wrong with his leg. Even when she comes back he doesn't ask her about it. Though he would be more concerned about his leg.

Good luck. C.P

Primrose Hill wrote 1754 days ago

I don't think I have found another sample of writing on Authonomy which has induced me to become emotionally involved in the story so soon. I was engrossed in this from the start, and am stopping to back the book.
Before I read on and forget it, I wanted to make just one suggestion, which is that you include a few place names, e.g. the hospital, street names, village names,in chapter one, as you have done in ch.2. - to give more sense of being in Paris.
Both my grandfathers fought in WW1,in France and in Egypt, but I honestly had not realised that the Americans were involved in that war! I really would love to read more of this book which seems unassuming and faulltlessly written.

backed.
Julia.

Sea of Straw.

chrisalys wrote 1754 days ago

Well written. Good storyline, definite winner here. Good luck with it.

Margaret Anthony wrote 1754 days ago

My favourite genre so it wasn't difficult to be drawn to this. And I wasn't disappointed. Such accomplished writing and a story that held my interest from the start. I can see from the tags that there is much to come in this book and I need to return when more is posted. Your writing allowed me to picture the scene with ease and your dialogue was faultless. I comment only as a reader and I so enjoyed this. A must for my shelf. Margaret.

anthonysaunders wrote 1754 days ago

Michael, the First World War is an endless source of inspiration for writers, historians and novelists alike. I write about the war as a historian and I always approach novels set in that period with a degree of scepticism. This is not so much because I anticipate inaccuracies of fact, but because I expect to see another reworking of the so-called ‘pointlessness’ of that war. Alternatively, authors impose a story on the war in which the nature of combat is distorted. So, it is a great pleasure to come across a novel set in this period which does not fulfil my fears.

I hope you will forgive me if I mention a few points from a historian’s perspective. As you no doubt know, American doctors served in both the French and the British armies before the US entered the war and they wrote surgical books from their experiences (for example, Penhallow in 1916). They give the current approaches to military surgery. I have to say that I am not convinced by the idea that a surgeon without direct experience of war trauma to the leg could intervene successfully. Neither am I convinced by the leg wound and the recovery.

There is also the question of the trenches and mud to which you refer. Which battle does he get his injury in 1918? If it is during the Allied offensives of the summer or later, then trenches did not figure so much and certainly not in the way they had dominated the fighting up to the spring of 1918. Mobile warfare returned to the battlefields of the summer and autumn of 1918. However, when the US army first engaged the Germans, it made the sort of mistakes which the British, French and Germans had made in 1915 and had to go through a rapid learning process to adapt to the tactical methods in use in 1918 (known as Deep Battle).

As a matter of interest, have you read Fix Bayonets by J W Thomason?

Excuse my diversion. I have already backed Promise because I think this is a well-written novel.

Jeanne Bannon wrote 1755 days ago

Very well done. Great descriptions and fluid dialogue. Happy to shelve it for a time.
Jeanne (Dark Angel)

beegirl wrote 1755 days ago

This is an amazing story. It is sad, yey there is a warmth to the writing that makes it all very appealing. I can't help but feel hope for Matthew as I read.
Well done,
Barbara
The Sea Pillow.

Jane Alexander wrote 1755 days ago

Over here on MM's recommendation and by heck he's right. This is wonderful writing - not my usual type of read so even more impressive that I romped my way through and barely paused. Puts me in mind of Pat Barker. I'm afraid I have no useful crit at all - nothing snagged at me or pulled me up short. You make writing look so very easy and effortless - it's crystal clear and vividly painted without going into histrionics. Incredible opening too - I was holding my breath as he lost consciousness and was SO relieved at his leg's reprieve. That is the mark of a truly gifted writer - you made me believe totally in the effect it would have on your character, and after only the very first paragraph!
Shelved without a shadow of a doubt.
Jane (Walker)

Rudolf Pantz wrote 1755 days ago

Have just started reading but have backed it already simple on the powerful use of such economical prose. That, as I said on a thread about your writing -- it so hard to do. It all seems so effortless, that is a great trick, because I'm sure it was anything but... unless you are THAT talented that you scribbled this all down in a month?

Did you?

Because if you did then I think I'll take up something else as I cannot compete.

Jared wrote 1755 days ago

Michael, this is a delightful book. I read all that you've posted so far with great pleasure. You write beautifully with great sensitivity and invariably find exactly the right word to describe a setting or convey a sense of what a character is feeling. I have no suggestions for you; if there are ways in which you could have improved this, they escaped my gaze.
I'm shelving this and wish you well on the site.
Jared (Mummy's Boy)

Louise Galvin wrote 1756 days ago

I came here having seen MM’s recommendation. Golly, I’m glad that I did.

This is evocative, lyrical, quietly powerful writing. I quickly felt emotionally involved in your story.

I’m pausing to back you, but want to read all of this. I am excited by it. I would buy this novel without a second’s hesitation.

Lou
(Souvenirs)

bonalibro wrote 1756 days ago

Micheal,

I've read the whole bit and it has a lot of promise. The writing is fluent. The first chapter is gripping and sad, but not quite tragic. The party has a sense of foreboding from the start. I expected there would be an attempt on the life of Mathews' father and maybe Hannah would take the hit, but I never imagined it would go as it did until Jess appears and Hannah tenses, and I just knew she was going to screw him out impatience with Mathew. The bit about her impatience would be more effective coming somewhat earlier, well before Jess appears. Given that Mathew is the POV character he shouldn't set the reader up to expect it without expecting it himself. So much happens TO Matthew in these first five chapters that I would caution you to make him more active in pursuit of his destiny. He runs away to Florida in the end only to be taken under the wing of Rebecca. Perhaps it would be better if something happened to Rebecca and he took her under his wing. Maybe his car spooks her horse and she gets thrown off and injured or something. Also there's a little too much conversation that doesn't advance the plot or the character development.

Iva P. wrote 1756 days ago

Promise of a Man is a fluid read. It began with a gripping first paragraph and then it carried me effortlessly through five chapters. The MC is instantly likeable; one feels genuine sympathy for the unlucky Mathew. Vivid descriptions and good dialogues.
Backed.

Iva P.
Fame and Infamy
(history, comedy, crime and more)

MLindley wrote 1756 days ago

Steve, I really appreciate the feedback. We're former Atlantan's. Used to sail up on Lake Lanier. 1920's Atlanta becomes a major setting later in the book. All the best, Michael Lindley

Michael,
This is wonderful writing. I sounds like a memoir and it is so real it sounds as though it happened yesterday. Historical fiction is so hard to write, but you make it look easy. A WW1 love affair come to naught reminded me of the movie, Mandolin. The reader wonders if they will meet again and turns pages. Well done. My grandfather could have written this as he was taken down by a machine gun and laid in a field for three days before he was picked up. I wish he had written his memoir. This is a great read, good luck with it. Oh yeah I loved the Atlanta, reference, is that near New York? heh heh. I live on Lake Lanier, just north of Atlanta.

Steve Ward
Test Pilot's Daughter: Revenge

MLindley wrote 1756 days ago

Thank you for the feedback and encouragement. I'll have to check out The Cruiserweight" as soon as possible.

Opening chapters were outstanding! I was able to get through this book easily; it flows that well. Your characters and dialogue are spot on. This has potential, and I am placing it on my shelf.

L. Anne Carrington, "The Cruiserweight"

TheLoriC wrote 1756 days ago

Opening chapters were outstanding! I was able to get through this book easily; it flows that well. Your characters and dialogue are spot on. This has potential, and I am placing it on my shelf.

L. Anne Carrington, "The Cruiserweight"

Alecia Stone wrote 1757 days ago

Hi Michael,

You have a good opening. I was pulled in right away. The interaction between the characters felt natural, as did the dialogue. Good vivid descriptions and good pacing.

This is a powerful story which grabbed my attention and kept me glued. It’s a compelling read with great characterisation. I haven’t read enough to comment on plot, but from the pitch and the first few chapters I’ve read, it’s developing well.

Very well written.

Shelved!

Shinzy :)

Steve Ward wrote 1757 days ago

Michael,
This is wonderful writing. I sounds like a memoir and it is so real it sounds as though it happened yesterday. Historical fiction is so hard to write, but you make it look easy. A WW1 love affair come to naught reminded me of the movie, Mandolin. The reader wonders if they will meet again and turns pages. Well done. My grandfather could have written this as he was taken down by a machine gun and laid in a field for three days before he was picked up. I wish he had written his memoir. This is a great read, good luck with it. Oh yeah I loved the Atlanta, reference, is that near New York? heh heh. I live on Lake Lanier, just north of Atlanta.

Steve Ward
Test Pilot's Daughter: Revenge

Betty K wrote 1757 days ago

This is absolutely gripping. Right from the first paragraph I knew it belonged on my shelf. Going by your pitch, the plotline is compelling. It's late now and I have only been able to read the first chapter but it is wonderfully executed; both in narrative and dialogue. It's definitely shelved and will be back for more. I love historical fiction and this is excellent.

Betty K "The Huguenot's Destiny"

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