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". . . a haunting character study peopled with flesh, blood and bone individuals . . ."
Trudy’s Promise: A mother’s love is tenacious.
Rolf Hulst braves the freezing waters, border guards and razor wire that lie just beneath the water’s surface, struggling toward freedom soon after the Berlin Wall is built. He pulls himself onto the bank with a bullet in his left shoulder, numb from cold, shock and blood loss. With the last of his strength he scrawls on the concrete in his own blood, “Trudy, finally free.”
Trudy Hulst, her son Stefan and her mother-in-law Esther (Mutti) wait for word of Rolf. They are sure he is safe in West Berlin but has not been able to get word to them. In the meantime, life goes on.
Trudy works in a textile mill at an ancient loom, standing on her feet eight hours a day, to support herself, one-year-old Stefan and Mutti. Each day is made bearable by the belief that Rolf is free. One evening Wolfgang Kruger, a high-ranking officer in the People’s Police and Rolf’s childhood friend yet ideological opposite, comes to see Mutti and Trudy. He tells them Trudy is in danger. He warns Mutti that Trudy will be picked up for questioning because of Rolf’s defection and underground anti-communist activities. He tells Mutti that Rolf is dead, and she conceals the truth from Trudy.
Faced with the threat of imprisonment and possible torture and death, Trudy accepts Wolfgang’s offer to help her escape. She is sure together she and Rolf will be able to free their son and Mutti. She doesn’t realize the price she will have to pay for that freedom and what it will cost her to protect Rolf’s name for Stefan.
Trudy’s Promise is not just another tearjerker about the fight for freedom after the erection of the Berlin Wall. It is much more. Marcia Preston creates a haunting character study peopled with flesh, blood and bone individuals that revolves around a mother’s fierce love for her family. Every character, however minor, is fully detailed with masterful shadings of the good and evil that lies within us all. Trudy’s Promise is a time capsule of a turbulent and exciting time in history that should not forgotten, one that in Preston’s hands will live long in memory. Like candles in the window in memory of a champion of freedom, Trudy's Promise is Marcia Preston at her most evocative and emotionally stirring.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell