Eleven year old Ethie doesn’t understand her withdrawn, moody father. All she sees is a distanced man who takes long walks in the rain and does not engage with his three children. She never had the opportunity to know the man who he was before he went off to war. He was a devoted young man who loved Ethie’s mother, was dedicated to his best friend and who marched off to war in the prime of his youth. Like so many other young soldiers Ethie’s father Howard returned as a much older man, hardened and shocked by war and it’s atrocities.
The The Promise of Rain pivots between two narrators - the voice of young Ethie and the voice of young soldier Howard. The transition between voices works well and the story unravels snippet by snippet.
Howard Coulter carries a burden of guilt that is far deeper and more painful than any of the physical scars that he still wears from being a PoW. It is a secret that Howard has harboured for two decades ever since he was stationed with his best friend Gordy in Hong Kong when Pearl Harbour was attacked.
Ethie’s mother is an energetic, passionate and loving person however when she dies in a freak accident, the family is on the brink of being torn apart. Ethie’s father withdraws even further, the eldest child Frankie steps up to temporarily be “the man of the house”, however things get complicated as “Kipper” has Downs Syndrome and Ethie is just a young girl. Their Aunt gets involved and the family unity is threatened. Secrets begin to be unearthed and in the process the family begins to learn of Howard’s agony and the reason he has withdrawn from life.
I really enjoyed this book however for me it was a little like a cup of tea with sugar. I enjoyed it all the way through until I got to the very end. The very last mouthful was just a little too sugary for me!