Irene and Rand come from very different walks of life. Will they find common ground in their fight to survive?
Irene has grown up in the jungle as a missionary with her Aunt Anita, but now she and countless others are imprisoned by Japanese soldiers at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines. Irene and her aunt are safe there, and she keeps busy with her duty of delivering censored messages to the camp’s prisoners, but like everyone else, she prays for the war to end and for her freedom.
Rand is a wealthy, womanizing American, whose attempted escape from the internment camp has put himself and others in danger. When Rand and Irene’s Aunt Anita meet one another in the hospital, Irene learns more of his story and her heart is determined to save his family.
But the danger outside the walls of the hospital worsens every day, and life in this exotic place is anything but luxurious. Can Irene find Rand’s family before they disappear forever? And can a humble missionary woman and an arrogant man find common ground in the face of their biggest fears?
As part of the promotion for the release for Remember the Lilies, Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity Group are holding a Kindle giveaway from 03 – 19 February 2015. There will also be an online chat with author Liz Tolsma on 19 February. Click on the link in my review for further information.
Remember the Lilies is the third in Liz Tolsma’s series of books set during World War II. The previous two novels were set in Europe, but the action now moves to the eastern theater where the USA is fighting Japan. The invasion of the Philippines began just hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked and the capital, Manila, was occupied by the Japanese less than one month later. Non-Filipino civilians were rounded up and interned in the fenced compound of Santo Tomas University in Manila. I’ve not seen Unbroken, but the Japanese treatment of enemy prisoners is well documented. I’ve also heard the tales of survival about people my parents used to know, both civilian and military.
Tolsma gives the reader a good idea of what life was like at Santo Tomas, both the good and the bad, and the novel is also historically accurate. There are descriptions of living conditions which deteriorated as the war went on. There was disease due to crowded facilities, poor food, and the 1943 typhoon. Relationships were formed and broken, depending on a person’s situation. Some readers might find it difficult to get through the scenes where Rand is held in the notorious Fort Santiago, but it’s important to remember that prisoners were held and tortured at the fort, and it’s estimated that some 600 Americans died there.
The title of the book comes from Luke 12, where we are told to remember that God will provide what we need, no matter our circumstances. This is a running theme throughout as an ill Aunt Irene seeks to reassure her niece that everything will be okay whatever happens to them, and as Rand must accept a life without privilege. Trust and forgiveness are other subjects that come up. Can you forgive your captors or understand why someone might cooperate with them in order to ease their own circumstances? In a situation with no apparent way out, will you trust the right people? Will you trust God to provide all you need in order to survive?
It’s no coincidence that this book’s release date is 03 February. That date marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Santo Tomas, even though the camp didn’t officially close until September 1945. Today, there are still camp survivors alive around the world. Tolsma’s key source was Sascha Jansen, who entered the compound age 10 with her family. There’s a fascinating three part interview with her on Tolsma’s blog.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Litfuse for my complimentary copy of Remember the Lilies, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 03 February 2015
Page Count: 384