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Other Reviews for Hanna's Promise

as seen on Amazon

5 of 5 stars

This is an historical novel based on many true events prior, during and after the Civil War. It is a prequel to “Bondage and War” although the reader does not lose out by reading this book before reading the first one. Whereas many historical novels just fit in a little history to make an exciting novel, that is not true of this book. It is filled with pages and pages of historical information in a time period just before the Civil War, covering many aspects of the good and bad of slavery, and follows particular families so there is continuity to the events.

At first I was a little confused because it seemed like I was reading more history than fiction and the story moved along slowly, with much emphasis on God, how God thinks, and how its thinking affects us. Hanna is chosen as a particular child of God who will devote her life to love, extending love, and healing. She will always take care of others, help others, and help mold a relationship between the slaves and the Whites. I was probably about one-third of the way into the story before I began to relax and enjoy it. When I started I had no idea what this book entailed. There are many events when Hanna, once a slave, is taken in by a family to raise her and love her after her mother, a slave, was accidently killed in a slave uprising. The story extends through about four generations and there is a couple who marry wherein one is White and one is Black.

It goes through the Civil War, the personalities of the generals on both sides, and includes Lincoln’s problems. It goes through struggles of both WWI and WWII and how the Black soldiers were separated from the Whites and the reactions to this.

There are many characters and it is difficult to keep track of them. Up in the state of Ohio where it is tolerated after the war, one of the Black men starts up a furniture factory, which passes to his son, and covers the attitudes of both White and Black workers in this Black owned factory.
This is not an easy story to read and yet when I finished, I felt I had learned much that I didn’t know about the relationships of the Whites and Blacks during those times, accepting that the authors knew what they were describing. The history I knew quite well, but not the personal emotions of this era or these people, having always lived in the Pacific Northwest in logging communities and there are no Blacks.

I recommend this book to those readers who like this type of reading. I was given a complimentary copy for an honest review.

Joan A. Adamak- June 14, 2016

4 of 5 stars

I bought Hanna’s Promise- A Story of Grace and Hope because the title intrigued me. As I began to read the characters came to life, perhaps because I am an adopted child who was reunited with his siblings. The twins David and Josena were described so that I felt that I could see them in my mind. The journey they took to find their sister was hauntingly familiar to my own journey. Hanna’s struggles and her devotion to her promise to God often brought tears to my eyes.

David Claire Jennings writing was easy to understand, yet the words he used were powerful and capable of evoking strong emotion in the reader. The history was fascinating and full of things that I never learned in school. It gave me a better picture of life in the south after the Civil War.

I became so involved with the story and the characters that I wanted to know more about what had happened prior to the time of this book, so I purchased After Bondage and War by Mr. Jennings. I can’t wait to start it and find out what happened.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in history, and likes characters that show the goodness in people and who lead lives of importance to others.

Thomas David- June 9, 2016

as seen on Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

4 of 5 stars


Recommends it for: anyone interested in fiction, history, Civil War, spirituality


Hanna's Promise by David Claire Jennings was a very touching story for me; if you like historical fiction with a spiritual twist, you'll like this book. It's not a very difficult read, and it flows very smoothly between the stories of David Ashford and his twin sister Josena, who are secondary protagonists and second generation returning characters from David's first novel, After Bondage and War. The time period is post Civil War and Reconstruction.

David and Josena are son and daughter to Josiah Ashford, also a returning character; unlike David's first novel, Josiah plays a secondary role to David and Josena. Josena and David have spiritual and intellectual similarities, albeit one was trained as a historian and war correspondent and the other as an anthropologist. However, the physical characteristics and personality differences between the two are charmingly demonstrated:

"David grew to be tall and lanky...He has a sharp mind and a thirst for learning. After he had done that - learned - he became professorial....Josena grew to be short and heavy - some would say dumpy. But she was not frowsy...She was smart as a whip and self-assured. She never suffered fools gladly and would rip you if she thought you were misguided or ignorant. David had to hold her back on many occasions for her own good and the good of the circumstance. Together they reminded you of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, had they not been a brother and sister of color from a more modern time."

The meat and potatoes of this novel is David and Josena's quest to find their long-lost sister, an enigmatic woman who was the child of their father Josiah Ashford, when he was still in bondage, and his then wife, also a slave, named Josena, from whom his daughter from his second marriage is named after. We revisit the tragic slave revolt, briefly mentioned in After Bondage and War, and learn more details about how Josiah's wife Josena was killed. David and Josena's quest for their long-lost sister compels the reader to read on as both the reader and David and Josena learn more details about their sister: they find out her name is Hanna.

Hanna is the third-introduced, but main protagonist of the novel. Hanna's upbringing is skillfully portrayed: she is raised by two benevolent white families, the first, named the Drishes, had to give her up when the Civil War came calling too close to and even threatened their home, and the second, the Blanchards. Both families loved her like a daughter. The idea that a slaveholding white family could love and care for Hanna as a daughter is the first glimpse of racial harmony in the book. This theme of racial harmony is apparent throughout the book, especially with the character of Hanna, and it is a theme so desperately lacking in today's modern time.

Hanna's character is revealed to have a very spiritual mission. Her impetus in life is to promote racial harmony and further it through love, caring for all people, kindness and as the author puts it: "act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with her God." Hanna's mission is introduced through a visit from an angel early on in the novel, in her childhood; she is asked to make a covenant, a promise to God to further racial harmony. It is this covenant, this promise that lends the book its name, Hanna's Promise.

One minor, but to me very enjoyable, thought of Hanna's that demonstrates her compassion and her mission is something that we all would do well to bear in mind and practice today:

"But she remembered something Ken Blanchard had told her back in Mobile when she was younger. He had helped her understand the important difference between two words - empathy and sympathy. He had explained that empathy was a feeling we could have for people who are different. It meant we could not understand them very well because they are different, but we could walk a mile in their shoes to understand them better. Sympathy is a feeling, he explained, we can only have for people who are the same as we are. But if we practice empathy long enough and far enough, we can become more the same. When that happens, we can begin to have the rarer feeling of sympathy."

All in all, this is a very good read. The language is easy to read, not highfalutin, but the concepts and themes are very deep and spiritual. Civil War and Reconstruction historical references abound. The characters are a joy to discover. God Himself even plays a role. And the quest of David and Josena to find their long-lost sister draws the reader in and compels them to feel the joy of their discovery. Hanna's spiritual quest for racial harmony is also very deep and her vision of a better America through spirituality, kindness, sympathy, empathy, love and caring is a quest that we all would do well to emulate today.

Edwin Smith- June 2016

Hanna’s Promise is David Claire Jennings second historical fiction novel. It is the sequel to After Bondage and War published last year. Intertwining historical events and sometimes little known facts within the story of Hanna, an orphaned slave girl, makes for fascinating reading. The reader enters the post-Civil War era and follows the life and times of Hanna Drish and the family she never knew.

The end of the Civil War finds 8 year old Hanna newly orphaned and suddenly a freed slave. Fortunately she is loved by John and Sarah Drish, who although her masters, love her as their own. With the threat of invading Union armies, they take Hanna to live with their friends in Mobile. We get a different view of slave owners than the usual stereotype as we come to know the two former slave owners who raise Hanna and care for her as a member of their family.


Hanna never knew her father, as he never knew of her until after the Civil War ended. He had gone on to become a renowned state representative in Ohio, remarried and had twins, one named for his dead wife, and one for his best friend, a Union soldier he met after the war. The novel After Bondage and War tells the poignant story of these two men and their search for happiness and peace.

Hanna’s Promise is filled with the spiritual relationship she has with the Archangel Michael who helps her achieve a life of hope and grace through her relationships with everyone she meets.  As she travels through life she meets many challenges as any Negro in the post-Civil War south would. But her serenity and kindness always shine through and help her overcome the negativity she encounters.

The reader is thrilled when she is finally united with the family she never knew and goes on to lead a blessed life affecting everyone she meets.

This is a book that engages the reader in the lives of the characters and leaves them with a feeling of hope for the future of mankind.

Irene Havekost– June 4, 2016

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