Sapphire Promise: Based on the true story of loyalty, trust, and unfailing love
Loyalty to family. Trusting instincts. The will to survive. These virtues are deeply embedded in a mature Dutch teenager, Annika Wolter. Her attributes prove useful as she navigates typical coming-of-age insecurities and a blossoming romance with a handsome lieutenant in 1939 Batavia, Java. Nothing prepares her for the distress of Hitler’s attacks on European countries followed by Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, toppling her idyllic life in the Dutch East Indies colonial society and separating her from the man she loves. Uplifting events from a true story showcase how determination, nursing basics, and language skills keep a young woman and her mother alive in the worst Japanese internment camp in the Pacific. If you admire clever women and unfailing love in a tropical wartime setting, you will be captivated by Sapphire Promise.
Here's what readers are saying:
"This coming-of-age story occurs during a time of great turbulence. The author takes such care in reminding the reader about what it means to be human, love, care, survive, and heal." Jamie Stern-Member at Large, Director of Research, The Indo Project
"I’m excited to share the compelling story of The Sapphire Promise with my book group! The study questions at the end will ensure a lively, thoughtful discussion of this fascinating memoir." Pat H. Member of 3 Book clubs
“Don’t Despair.” Until 1950 this was the motto of the coat of arms of Batavia, once called the Queen of the East! The life of Annika Wolter, and the life of everyone else in Dutch East-India changed dramatically after the invasion of the Japanese in 1942. Sally Brandle carries us into Batavia’s pre-war daily life and into its architectural beauty. However, she also carries us, with Annika, into the darkness of Batavia’s Japanese camp Tjideng. This loss of her idyllic life caused despair but also hope." Dirk Teeuwen MSc, Nieuwpoort, The Netherlands
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Reviewed by Velma Lang for Readers' Favorite
Prisoners of war stories evoke tremendous interest and empathy with their tragedies and triumphant survival. Sally Brandle has written a fictionalized account in Sapphire Promise of Annike’s survival in the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. Japan overran Indonesia in 1942, interning and then imprisoning Annike and her mother. Prior to this, the story unfolds the privileged life of Annike’s family. At fifteen, she fell in love with a handsome lieutenant, battling her parents’ resistance until they married before the Japanese invasion. Annike’s nurse’s training, fluency in languages, and the family’s positive treatment of native Indonesians helped them survive the starvation and cruelty of the prisoners’ ghetto. The Japanese General Yamamoto’s compassion also saved them from the native insurgency. After liberation, Annike and her mother were reunited with their husbands. Could they restore their former life?
Sally Brandle’s Sapphire Promise provided an interesting contrast between a pre-war colonial society and the horrors of an internment camp. Her detailed descriptions of sightseeing, horse riding, and celebratory parties were vivid and engaging. This background made the characters’ survival poignant. The suspense was maintained by Annike’s and her mother’s anxiety about their husbands at war. It was refreshing and realistic that General Yamamoto’s humanity balanced the Japanese invaders’ cruelty. The author’s romantic depictions were old-fashioned in tone and nuance but appropriate for the societal conventions of that time. All in all, this is an intriguing story about the end of a colonial era and the triumph of the human spirit. I recommend this for lovers of history and romance.