How will two very different people find love—and survive the impossible circumstances of war?
In 1941 Rand Sterling was a wealthy, womanizing club owner and an American of note among ex-pats and locals alike. Now two years later, Rand is just another civilian prisoner of war—one whose planned escape from the Santo Tomas Internment Camp could put him and others in grave danger.
Irene Reynolds grew up as a missionary kid in the Philippine jungle. Now she works for the paranoid Japanese authorities, delivering censored messages to the other American prisoners in Santo Tomas.
When Irene’s negligence leads to Rand’s failed escape attempt, Rand is sent to the torture chambers of Fort Santiago—and Irene suffers under the weight of her guilt. Yet when she crosses paths with Rand again after his unexpected return to the camp, something more than mere survival draws the unlikely pair together.
As life in Manila becomes more and more desperate, and another threatening letter finds its way from Irene’s hands to Rand’s, the reluctant couple struggles to find a way to stay alive . . . and to keep their growing feelings for each other from compromising the safety of everyone around them.
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About the Author
Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life. She and her husband have a son and two daughters, all adopted internationally. When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. Visit her at www.liztolsma.com Twitter: @LizTolsma Facebook: liztolsma
Read an Excerpt
Remember the Lilies
By LIZ TOLSMA
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Liz Tolsma
All rights reserved.
Santo Tomas Internment Camp, Manila
October 15, 1943
For almost two years, Rand Sterling had stared at the heavy iron bars that trapped him in this prison. The clanging of the iron gates behind him all that time ago continued to ring in his ears. Just the thought of it dampened his hands.
He glanced at the small piece of paper he clutched in his hands. He didn't need to read the words he had received a few weeks ago. He had memorized them.
Papa is dying. Please come.
He had asked the release committee for a pass to see Armando. But they refused to go to the Japanese commandant with his request because Armando was only his houseboy.
The man was more like a father than his own father. Armando had taught him everything. And Rand still had much to learn. He had lost so much to this war, including the Monarch and the Azure. He couldn't bear to lose Armando too.
He'd begun formulating a plan to escape as soon as he had received the note from Armando's son, Ramon. To be sure, it was risky. Very Clark Gable–esque. But worth it.
Only a few men had attempted this feat before him, and that was in the first days of their internment. They failed. Their Japanese captors had executed a swift and deadly punishment. Since then, no one had taken the chance at freedom.
All of his plans had fallen into place. And now that darkness had descended, it was almost time to implement them. He had been sending messages back and forth with Ramon via the packet line—secret, coded letters that would pass through the Japanese censors with ease.
The one he received from Ramon today puzzled him. It didn't make sense. Something had to be missing.
Tonight was terrible. The time was set. The bright lights blinded me.
What wasn't he understanding?
He turned and wound his way through the large Shantytown the prisoners had constructed on the university grounds, down packed-dirt streets such as Camote Drive and Tiki-tiki Lane. He wiped the sweat from his brow, sure it didn't come because of the typical hot, humid Manila evening. A few quiet voices floated on the night air, mingling with the music from the variety show set up on the main square. The crowd brought their woven sawali mats and sat on the damp ground, laughed, sang, and forgot their status as civilian POWs for a while.
His heart pounded as he entered his little nipa hut. The sawali mats that made up the walls provided protection from the hot midday sun and a quieter place to sleep than the main dormitory. Here he had a small kitchen in one corner, a living area with a table, a bed complete with mosquito netting, and a porch. He had snagged a prime location in the area known as Glamourville—near the wall along Governor Forbes Street. Perfect for his escape.
He swallowed a few times, willing his small chicken dinner to stay down. What if the Japanese guards changed their patrolling routine tonight? What if he had trouble climbing the high concrete wall? What if ...?
"Are you ready?"
Rand just about shot out of his skin at the sound of the voice behind him. "Jeepers, Henry, you scared the bejeebers out of me."
Rand's former club manager stood in the hut's doorway leaning against the bamboo pole, a lopsided grin spread across his boyish face. "What if I had been a guard?"
"If you had been a guard, I'd have jumped a yard and hit my head hard." Rand tipped his head and grinned.
Henry stood straight. "Not really a time for fun and games. You know how serious this is, right? You've heard of Fort Santiago."
The grinding of his stomach gave him the answer. "I know, I know. Trying to keep my mind off of it. If I'm caught, torture at the fort is the best-case scenario. But I won't be. The plan is perfect."
Henry rubbed his stubbly chin. "Anything can go wrong."
"Only if you nark on me. And so far you've kept my indiscretions from the society page."
"Your secrets are safe with me. You have a whole bunch of them, you know? Though, if they throw me into Santiago with you, I can't promise I won't crack under the pressure."
"Good man." Rand slapped him on the back. "I knew I could count on you. Just hold on to your end of the rope. Ramon will have the other. Once I'm up and over, just let it go and get out of there. Fast."
"That part I can handle."
Rand didn't doubt it. Between the softball and football teams the organizing committee had put together and his work in the community garden, Henry managed to stay in shape. So had Rand. "Don't let me down."
Henry guffawed. "Not on your life."
That's what Rand counted on.
* * *
"Miss Irene, please stay with me."
Irene Reynolds leaned over Sheila King's bed, held the child's hot hand, and smoothed a strand of black hair from her feverish face. "I won't go anywhere. I promise." She understood what it was like to be motherless.
Sheila closed her eyes, and a sad smile crossed her lips. Irene sat on the cool tile floor. After working this afternoon at the censor's office, then volunteering at the infirmary all evening, she wanted nothing more than to return to the Main Building, curl up on her cot, and sleep for a very long time.
Irene's young charge moaned in her sleep, the intense pain of malaria disturbing even her slumber.
If only they didn't have to be in this dreadful, God-forsaken place.
Sheila moaned again and turned in bed. She opened her sea-green eyes. "Miss Irene, I don't—"
The girl didn't finish her sentence before she got sick. Then her tears flowed. "I'm sorry. So sorry."
Irene hushed her. "You couldn't help it. Just hang on. Let me get the orderly and we'll clean you up."
She made her way through the hall. Sheila should have a mother to tend to her. It was the ones like her who drove Irene to spend so much time here. Sheila's American father had been captured on Bataan, her Filipina mother dead of cancer.
Children she wanted to help.
She didn't have to go far before she found an orderly, his tall, lean frame hunched over as he washed the floor in one of the doctors' offices. "Andrew, I could use your help with Sheila."
He looked up, his green eyes bright even in the pale light. He ran his hand through his shock of bright-red hair. "She's sick again?"
"I'm afraid so." Irene's wooden-soled bakyas clapped against the hard floor as she made her way down the hall to Sheila. The orderly followed, hard on her heels as she set a quick pace.
"You need to slow down, Irene."
She answered him over her shoulder. "Can't you keep up? "
"Not that. You are working too hard. You spend so much time here with the children. You're tired yourself."
"That's one way to flatter a woman."
A blush crept up his skinny neck. "I meant, well, you need to sleep a little. I'm worried you'll end up sick. Then who'll sit with you?"
"You're very sweet." She entered the ward and made her way to Sheila's bedside. "Let's get her comfortable again."
They worked in silence as they changed the sheets. Irene sent Andrew off with an armload of dirty linens, then slipped a clean nightgown over Sheila's head. Within seconds of lying down, the child fell into a more restful sleep.
The room silenced as one by one the patients slumbered. Mothers rose and stretched, yawning a few times before heading outside for a breath of fresh air or to tend to their other children. How awful to have your little one so very, very sick. And so unnecessarily. Not enough mosquito netting. Not enough toilets. Not enough soap and hot water.
Irene had promised Sheila she would stay with her until she fell asleep, but she couldn't tear herself away from the child tonight. She did want to leave before the nine o'clock curfew so she could return to the Main Building, where the women were crammed into university classrooms never intended to be dormitories. Anita would be waiting for her in room 40 to have devotions and prayer before lights out.
A heavy mantle of fatigue descended on Irene, and she caught her head bobbing more than once. To try to stay awake, she ran over in her head the censored notes she retyped this morning before the Japanese would allow them to be passed to their recipients.
One from today stood out in her mind. At first glance, it appeared to be innocuous.
Tonight was terrible. The time was set. The bright lights blinded me. Perhaps another night will be better. Be thankful you are where you are.
Perhaps another night will be better. Be thankful you are where you are. The words the Japanese censors had stricken sounded like a warning, a caution to stay put. And how could he stay put unless he intended to leave?
Could he be thinking about escaping? Surely he knew the fate that awaited him if he was caught. They all knew what happened to those three who tried to escape in the first months of their captivity.
She stood so suddenly, her knee knocked against Sheila's bed, almost tipping it over. Irene steadied the cot, kissed the girl's forehead, and raced down the hall. The orderly flagged her down, but she waved him away. She clattered down the stairs, out of the building, and through Jungletown.
By the time she rounded the Main Building and came to Glamourville, sweat poured down her face and her back. The air clung to her bare arms and legs like a heavy winter coat.
Sharp pains stabbed her side, but she ignored them as she wound her way through the maze of streets, hoping she'd find Mr. Sterling's shanty. She knew his nipa hut backed to the wall.
Not having occasion to come to this part of the compound often, she got turned around in the dark. She ran up and down the streets.
The note had said tonight. It was tonight.
And if she didn't find him in time?
She didn't allow that thought to continue.CHAPTER 2
The world around Irene buzzed, and her heart bounced against her chest. A light mist began to fall, mingling with the sweat running down her face. She forced her legs to stop running, her hands on her knees, her neck bent to keep from passing out. She didn't know where Mr. Sterling's hut was, only that it was in Glamourville.
Perhaps he had figured out from the remainder of the sender's note the message he'd been trying to convey. But if he hadn't and Irene's detective work was correct, he could be in a great amount of trouble.
No one survived an escape attempt.
No one even tried.
She finger-raked strands of damp hair from her eyes. In the daytime, each shanty had its own personality. At dark, they blurred together, one indistinguishable from the other. She straightened to resume the search, not knowing how she would find him. Her legs protested, but she urged them forward. She had to make sure Mr. Sterling had the complete message.
She knocked on the bamboo and sawali mat door of one of the huts. A surly middle-aged man answered. "What do you want? "
"Do you know where Mr. Sterling's hut is?"
"Why would I know something like that?" He squinted and scrunched his forehead.
She bit back her caustic reply. "It's important that I find him."
"What does that have to do with me?"
"Please, if you know, tell me." She clenched her fists.
"I've never heard of the man." With that, he slammed the door as hard as possible. It lacked the oomph of shutting a wood door, but she understood the meaning behind it. And here she stood, wasting time. She rapped on a few more huts. Some of the residents were either out for the evening or had returned to their dormitories for the night. Others answered with the same reply. No one appeared to know the mysterious Mr. Sterling.
A Japanese patrolman strode in her direction, his trousers ballooning around him, his tall black boots silent on the dirt street. To avoid having to bow, she turned her back on him and moved to the door of the next shanty. He passed without a word, and she released a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
On her fourth attempt, she found someone who knew where Mr. Sterling lived. Now she just had to get there in time to stop him from making a huge, life-threatening mistake.
She moved faster and faster, stumbling at last on the hut. The lily blooms in front drooped. No lights shone through the mats. When she peeked in the opening on the side, the one commanded by the Japanese to be kept so privacy between men and women was impossible, she spotted no movement.
But from the corner of her eye, she caught a flurry of activity.
She had found Mr. Sterling.
He had not figured out the rest of the message.
* * *
Rand and Henry squatted behind Rand's nipa hut. Off in the distance, the crowd at Dave Harvey's variety show laughed. A cat mewed not far from them. The sun had set. The sky was dark.
Every one of Rand's muscles was poised for action, tense and alert. His lungs allowed him only to draw shallow breaths. His heart thumped in his ears, and he was afraid the noise would drown out the possible approach of Japanese footsteps.
He peered around the bamboo corner of the shanty in time to watch the guard move down the street. His back would be to Rand for several minutes. His chance to escape. His chance at freedom.
With a nod, he motioned for Henry to follow him. Ramon should be in place on the other side of the wall on Governor Forbes Street, ready to take him to Armando. Never in his life had Armando failed him. When Rand's parents had been too busy with their social life to stay by his side when he had the measles, Armando was there. When he tore his best trousers after Mother told him to stay clean, Armando covered for him.
He vowed not to fail the man. He would take care of him until MacArthur returned and freed them all.
Rand rolled the rope between his hands. If they didn't sweat too much and if the mist didn't make his ascent too slippery, he should be able to scale the wall with little trouble. He'd been doing push-ups and pull-ups every day since he had received the note, while Armando clung to life.
He stared up at the monstrous concrete-block structure in front of him. All that stood between him and the outside world. He had to succeed.
If any soldiers appeared in the area outside the wall, Ramon was to whistle like a bird. Armando loved to imitate their calls—bush larks, Pacific swallows, paddyfield pipits. Rand remembered lessons from Armando on how to identify different birds. The same lessons Armando taught his own son. Who knew how handy they would be?
The wall jutted into the sky. With a little concentration and a whole lot of luck, he could do this. Couldn't he?
He squared his shoulders. Yes, seeing Armando one more time was worth the effort. Worth the risk.
Henry slapped him on the back. Rand's breath caught in his throat. Henry slapped him again.
Rand grasped the thick hemp rope and flung it over the wall, hoping he'd gotten enough on the other side for Ramon to take hold. Hoping that Henry would be able to hang on so he could scamper over.
Henry grasped the rope and gave it a tug, then shook his head. Rand shrugged. What was the problem? His buddy pulled the rope. Slack. Hadn't Ramon been able to grab it?
Rand listened for the birdsong. Nothing. Absolute silence, save for the distant laughter of the crowd at Dave Harvey's variety show.
The guard would return within a few minutes. Rand would have to move fast if he expected to be over and out of here by the guard's return. Another tug of the rope. More slack. Still no sign of Ramon.
Rand pivoted, sure he heard footsteps. A woman appeared at the side of the hut, leaning in the opening, calling for him in a low voice laden with fear. He recognized the Jean Harlow white-blond hair and the curve of the hips.
The one he'd nearly run over two years ago.
What a knockout. But why was she here?
He didn't want to acknowledge her presence, but she drew attention to his activity. Even in the darkness, he felt Henry's scowl. Rand motioned for his friend to stay still. Perhaps when she realized he wasn't in the hut, she would leave.
Of course she didn't. She walked around the outside of his humble abode. When she discovered what he and Henry were up to, would she turn them in?
He couldn't chance it. So far tonight, nothing had gone according to plan. As soon as she rounded the corner, he sprang on her from behind, crushing her in the crook of his left arm, clamping his right hand over her mouth. A single scream and they would all be dead.
Excerpted from Remember the Lilies by LIZ TOLSMA. Copyright © 2015 Liz Tolsma. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma illuminates the difficulty of life in the civilian prison camps in WWII. Rand and Irene’s romance is surprisingly realistic, given their extreme differences, and Rand’s transformation is believable and touching. Although the story isn’t an easy read, it is a very good one. I highly recommend this novel
Remember the Lilies is an endearing novel and it's sad how many people miss the beauty of the story due to their lack of faith. Obviously, if you hold anger towards Christians then THIS IS NOT FOR YOU. But, an open mind can truly change the way you think. So, instead of bashing Christians let's be civil. You never know. A great book can fill your emptiness.
Another excellent addition to Liz Tolsma's WW2 series, set in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation, and centering on life in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila. Full of intense scenes, suspenseful at times, yet heartfelt with faith and hope shining through even the most difficult moments. This is not an easy, cozy read, but there are many touching moments, particularly the developing romance of the main characters Rand and Irene. Irene's Aunt Anita is really a beautiful example of a godly woman. The themes of faith, perseverance, and forgiveness stand out. The author includes some interesting historical facts that she wove into the story. Highly recommend for readers of Christian historical fiction, and WW2 fans!
Liked the story. However, there were too many coincidences that I found unbelievable.
Liz Toslma is at it again, creating stories from difficult aspects of World War II, this one about an internment camp in the Philippines while the Japanese were in control of Manila. I marvel over the amount of research Liz had to have done to create this beautiful story. Rand Sterling,an American, had a thriving business in the Philippines before the War. Or rather two. He owned two thriving businesses and had one pretty girl after another on his arm all the time. But when the Japanese took over, his wealth and prestige went out the window. Americans and other enemies of Japan were thrown into the Santo Tomas Internment Camp. One of the other residents is Irene Reynolds, who had been a missionary in the jungle. Irene works for the enemy in their censor's office, screening letters and messages in order to earn a bit to help care for her blind aunt, Anita. One day Irene fails to provide a message to Rand in time to prevent his attempted escape from Santo Tomas. He's captured and sentenced to the dreaded prison, Fort Santiago, a place from which few people escape. Most are tortured until they die. Irene is consumed with guilt. It will take a miracle, and if you buy this book, you can pray for them as they go through their physical and mental torments on the way to...what?
“Remember the Lilies” takes the reader inside a Japanese-run concentration camp and into the lives of a hand full of people who survive what at times seemed impossible to live through. Her characters, though starting out beautiful and handsome in their own way, gradually lose what they used to be and dwindle to human bodies that sometimes did not resemble more than skeletons. Through it all, they maintain their humanity, their dignity. Though barely alive toward the end of the book, their hopes and dreams remain alive. They have soul. Some of the characters change as a result of their experience. Some who were already strong inwardly, remain strong in the face of unending hardship. Will they ever be free to be human again? They long for it, hope for it, pray for it, each in their own way as men and women with different backgrounds and different values. This is a heart-warming story, and the second book I have read by this insightful author.
Remember the Lilies took me back in time to World War II and dealt with issues experienced by civilians. I had never heard of internment camps in the Philippines and the story makes you appreciate what you have today. Remember the Lilies also teaches about forgiveness for others and for yourself. I loved the character of Anita. She is the person I would aspire to be if I was in a difficult situation. She was an encouragement to others around her and invested in her niece as well as those around her. Her life touched many and I was inspired to be more like her. It is very important when writing that the author not have inconsistencies in their writing for the story to make sense to the reader. Unfortunately, there were a few inconsistencies in Remember the Lilies that made some aspects hard to believe. Also, the personality shifts with Rand and Irene were a little hard to swallow. For example, some of the behavior from Irene did not seem to jive with the mature christian she seemed to portray at the beginning. Even with these few negative aspects, I am glad I read this book and would recommend to anyone who like historical fiction. I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars. A huge thanks to Netgalley and Thomas Nelson publishers for the free copy of Remember the Lilies in exchange for my honest review.
Remember the Lilies is set in a prisoner of war camp in the Philippines during WWII. As the Japanese occupied The Philippines, they put non-native civilians in the camp, including missionaries, international businessmen and their families. These people had done nothing other than be caught behind Japanese lines during the war. Two such people are American, Irene, and her missionary aunt, Anita. They were just living and working among the Filipino people. Wealthy American businessman, Rand Sterling, has spent all his privileged life in Manila. He is the owner of two prominent nightclubs. At the beginning of the story, Rand receives a message that one of his former servants, who was like a father to him, is in need of his help. Rand risks capture by trying to escape the camp to render aid. Irene, who works in the censorship office, saw the note, but decides too late to try to warn Rand that this could be a trap. Rand is caught and sent to the infamous Fort Santiago as punishment. Few return from there, but for some mysterious reason, Rand, although extremely battered, returns. Rand and Irene become well acquainted at the camp hospital where Irene is nursing her dying aunt. As they try to help each other survive the horrors of the war, they eventually fall in love. But, a mysterious stranger seems to have something on both of them that he is using for blackmail. It could be enough to drive them apart. The setting of this historical fiction novel is quite unique. Many do not realize that not only did the Japanese capture enemy soldiers and put them in prison camps, but they put Allied civilians into camps, as well. In the Note from the Author, we read about her research and how many of the events were based on fact. While this was not a pleasant setting, anyone interested in the history of WWII will find this a fascinating story and well worth their time. I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Liz Tolsma in her new book “Remember the Lilies” Book Three in the Women Of Courage series published by Thomas Nelson brings us into the lives of Rand Sterling and Irene Reynolds in 1943. From the back cover: How will two very different people find love—and survive the impossible circumstances of war? In 1941 Rand Sterling was a wealthy, womanizing club owner and an American of note among ex-pats and locals alike. Now two years later, Rand is just another civilian prisoner of war—one whose planned escape from the Santo Tomas Internment Camp could put him and others in grave danger. Irene Reynolds grew up as a missionary kid in the Philippine jungle. Now she works for the paranoid Japanese authorities, delivering censored messages to the other American prisoners in Santo Tomas. When Irene’s negligence leads to Rand’s failed escape attempt, Rand is sent to the torture chambers of Fort Santiago—and Irene suffers under the weight of her guilt. Yet when she crosses paths with Rand again after his unexpected return to the camp, something more than mere survival draws the unlikely pair together. As life in Manila becomes more and more desperate, and another threatening letter finds its way from Irene’s hands to Rand’s, the reluctant couple struggles to find a way to stay alive . . . and to keep their growing feelings for each other from compromising the safety of everyone around them. Sad to say that there is more to war besides tanks and bombs and men shooting guns against the men on the other side. There are the internment camps. Ms. Tolsma has done what seems a huge amount of research to bring us this story and it pays off dramatically. History, romance, drama and suspense all bundled together into one very entertaining story. Wow, what people had to endure because of the war, it is incredible. This is a story about how individuals can determine the course for the many, either for the bad or the good. Rand and Irene are wonderfully crafted characters that we draw very close to and root for them to succeed. “Remember the Lilies” is a wonderful, interesting story with power and depth that will keep you flipping pages. I recommend this book highly and I do look forward to the next book from this highly talented author. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Remember the Lilies, By: Liz Tolsma If you like suspense, mystery and historical fiction then you are going to love the book Remember the Lilies! This is a book that is so well written that is going to keep you on the edge of your seat! Be prepared to be captured and drawn into this wonderful story right up until the very end! What an amazing historical fiction book. It is utterly amazing at how detailed this story is, I love it. Looking forward to reading more books by Liz Tolsma. Be sure to follow Liz Tolsma on facebook and on her website. Links are below. Be sure to order your copy today! 5 stars!
Remember the Lilies is another beautiful addition to Liz Tolsma’s series of books which are set during World War II. This is definitely a stand alone story, however, and can be read independently of the others in the series. Once again, I was very impressed with the author’s ability to make me truly feel that I was back in time and going through the struggles along with the characters. The setting is very interesting and one that I was not terribly familiar with. Everything takes place in the Philippines, mostly in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp. I thought that there was an excellent balance in the story of the struggles that the prisoners were facing, as well as everyday moments, and also hope for the future. Granted, there are some disturbing and painful incidents in the story, which serves to make it very realistic. And, as time goes by, the hope of ever being released began to fade for some. Rand was a character that I did not like at first. He was definitely a womanizer, who valued money and prestige above all things. But, he soon became a man that I admired, as he changed and began to question his beliefs and views of the world. Much of his change of heart had to do with meeting Irene. I liked Irene, even when she sometimes seemed to contradict herself with her thoughts and actions. She was an interesting character and had an amazingly loving heart. She simply struggled with a large stubborn streak that did get her into trouble. Remember the Lilies provides a peek back in time, to a part of World War II that is oftentimes overlooked. I definitely recommend this interesting novel. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through Litfuse Publicity, in exchange for an honest review.
5 stars *****out of five Historical Romance We do not often associate flowers with war, and yet Liz has chosen flowers to commemorate her World War II stories. This is the third one, coming after Snow on The Tulips and Daises Are Forever, but though they take place at more or less the same time, they are stand alone stories. I do think that if you have not already done so, you will be eager to pick up her other books. Rand and Irene are as different in all ways as two people can be. Irene is a missionary kid, Rand is a womanizer and owns night clubs. Basically, I do not think they would have ever had occasion to meet, but war does that. And both are thrust into Prisoner of War status. Liz paints a stark and honest picture of what life in an occupied country was like in the 1940s. As I read it I felt that perhaps life had been even more unfair. Unconditional love can thrive and my heart was warmed by those incidents where this was obvious. Forgiveness does not condone the transgressor, and that was a very clear theme throughout the story. I am in awe how some authors are able to transport me from warm Arizona, a country where we are free to live as we will, to a country occupied by the enemy in a war torn, unstable place, and I feel I know what and who they write about. I guess that is why I continue to pick up books, for the chance to broaden my experiences without having to live them. Thank you to Amy Lathrop of Litfuse Publicity Group and TNZ Fiction for the opportunity to read this novel. I was given a free book in exchange for an honest review. A positive critique was not required. The opinions are my own.
Liz Tolsma's two earlier books, SNOW ON THE TULIPS and DAISIES ARE FOREVER, blended war stories told by her family members with just enough fictional details to create stories that captured what life was like for those who lived in the path of Europe's WWII devastation. When her son encouraged her to write a third novel set in the Pacific arena, Tolsma accepted the challenge. REMEMBER THE LILIES tells the story of Rand Sterling and Irene Reynolds and their time in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines. Before the war, Rand, the successful owner of two nightclubs, spent his days womanizing and plotting how to increase his business. Once confined at the camp, his plots change. One, how to smuggle stores of food to augment the supplies which were provided by the Red Cross, but often held back by the Japanese. Two, how to escape the camp so he can visit his servant Armando who has been more than a father than anyone he's known. It is that planned (and failed) escape that brings Irene and Rand together. Two people could hardly seem less alike. Irene, abandoned by her father and mother, was raised by her aunt, a missionary in the jungles of the Philippines. Irene assumes the responsibility of caring for her aunt, now blind and emaciated from malnutrition, spends hours with the orphaned children within the camp, but still must work assigned hours for the Japanese as a censor of messages sent to the American speaking detainees. When she reads a message meant for Rand, she censors the last few words, thinking she has not deleted anything of importance. Later, when she rethinks the message, she is sure he must hear it in its entirety, so she risks her own safety to tell him the blackened words. REMEMBER THE LILIES, like Tolsma's first novels, shows that it was not only the soldiers on the battlefields who suffered in World War II. She also shows that perseverance and courage were not the sole domain of generals or officers. I really enjoyed her realistic portrayal of Rand and Irene. Irene, who professed a strong faith, found she really struggled when asked to forgive others. Rand, who had always put himself and his luxurious lifestyle first, finds within the restrictions and cruelty of the camp, a better way to be. I received a copy of REMEMBER THE LILIES by Liz Tolsma for review purposes from LITFUSE PUBLICITY. Thank you. It is always great to promote the work of a talented writer from Wisconsin.
Liz Tolsma is a relatively new author. I have read her previous two novels—Snow on the Tulips and Daisies Are Forever—and greatly enjoyed them. It seems that lots of WWII novels are coming out these days, but Tolsma puts a bit of a different twist on her stories. Her stories are inspired by family members and family friends who lived through it. As with the previous two books, I found Remember the Lilies to be very unique. I don't believe I've ever read a book set primarily within the walls of an internment camp. However, what could have been a very dark book turned out to be very hope-filled, with a strong gospel message. It's definitely not an easy read, but I was never left "down" for long. I really enjoyed the two main characters. It was hard to imagine a romance blossoming under such dire circumstances, but the author pulled it off well. The character development was strong throughout, and I grew to like them both more and more as the story went on. As several other reviewers have mentioned, I did wish that there was a bit more description of the camp. Unfortunately, I don't have much knowledge at all of this particular aspect of the war, so it was difficult for me to grasp. (I recently found a three-part interview with an internment camp survivor on the author's blog that shed some light on the true living conditions they experienced. Reading it would definitely be helpful in understanding the book better.) Additionally, I felt like the book was a tad slow in a few places. Overall, I truly enjoyed this story. It's not often that you read a wonderful story with such rich, historical detail. Fans of historical fiction are sure to enjoy Remember the Lilies. [4 stars] I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma, © 2015 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. --Luke 12:27 After reading the two previous novels by Liz Tolsma, Snow on the Tulips and Daisies Are Forever, I was awaiting this third story, Remember the Lilies. Interesting that flowers are intermingled with seemingly dismal places, showing hope and faith can bloom again in dust and decay of ruins. The story begins in early December of 1941 in Manila, Philippines. The morning of December 8 began like any other morning with bird song and fair weather ~ picnic outings to be enjoyed. Until the subsequent attack following Pearl Harbor, WWII comes to the Philippines. The research by author Liz Tolsma brings us to the sorrows and future hope of surviving the internment camp as day-to-day is revealed of the atrocities of war. I was surprised that the internment was at the university and had a hospital with camp doctors. Families and individuals were in captivity more than three years. This story tells of their lives and how they coped while being imprisoned. Regardless of where they had been materially and occupationally before the war, they were now one in their attempt to survive low food rationing and living conditions. Natural disasters occurred, with weather conditions added to by an expected lineup of prisoners twice a day, regardless of what must be endured. Weakened because of diet and lack of exercise, expectations of bowing to their captor became a hardship for many. An important supporter in the story is by the older missionary, Anita Markham. So uplifting in trials and ill health, she clung to God and biblical truth, sharing with her niece, Irene Reynolds, and a man, Rand Sterling, she meets in an ambulance on their way to the hospital for medical care. Irene has already told her Aunt Anita about him. Irene first met him as she delivered a message she memorized while at her work in the censor office from incoming mail. As Irene and Rand begin their attraction to each other, I am talking to them, to "tell the truth," while reading the story. Honesty and not holding back will benefit them the most. Both attempt to keep secrets they feel would separate them from the other. There are unexpected surprises in this story, but the best part how their character changes. This is a strong story weaving history of the past, confirmed by an actual person who was interned with her family during this time. ***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a copy of Liz Tolsma's Remember the Lilies for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
The setting for Remember The Lilies is in the Philippines and we are in an internment camp, a University Campus, run by the Japanese who have control of the Island. The story seems to start around the beginning of the internment, at the beginning of WWII, when life was rough, but much different than I was expecting. Irene and her Aunt Anita were rather poor missionaries when then are sent to the camp along with the people they were visiting with on that fateful Christmas. They have rather rough huts and very few possessions, but they are surviving. There is another part of the camp, which rather surprised me, where people with money at the time they were sent here have nicer huts and more possessions, and are doing a bit better with more food. This is where Rand, a womanizing former club owner resides. We experience the brutality of war and the daily trials of trying to survive; through all of this Irene and her Aunt have God to lean their trials on. This verse appears several times in the book, “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these” Luke 12:27. There is an attraction between Irene and Rand, she is lovely, but definitely not his type, or is she? He also has his hidden secrets and has lived on the wild side, and we go deep into his life and who was there for him as a child. There is evil lurking in the camp and not always in the form of the Japanese, and this individual, never saw all that was coming, blew me away. There are several twists and turns in the story, and some of the happening I was so surprised with. What a great book, and I definitely want more by this author, a captivating page-turner. I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Thomas Nelson, and was not required to give a positive review.
There is something so amazing when an author can utilize some historical facts to create not only an unbelievable novel but capture your heart in the process. I guess that is why I love historical fiction, because based on history, there are so many stories out there that can be captured in a book, stories that impact you in profound ways that you are never the same after reading them. Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma is one such novel. Based on events that happened in the Philippines just as WWII was underway and days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, those in the Pacific Theater wondered how the war would impact them. When the Japanese took over the small islands, they created the Santo Tomas Internment camp and thus is where our novel takes place as American citizens find themselves prisoners of war with no little hope of making it out alive. Rand Sterling was a night club owner with two successful clubs providing him with the lifestyle he loved and plenty of money to expand if only the war hadn't happened. Now he finds himself locked behind fences and planning an escape from the prison camp. He knows if he is unsuccessful, the torture and subsequent punishment at the hands of the Japanese will cost him his life in a slow and painful death. Rand knew he had to do something, because people around him including little children were slowly dying by the conditions they were all faced to live in. Irene Reynolds, a previous missionary along with her aunt Anita, has a job censoring the communication being allowed to the prisoners in the camp. When she removes a couple of sentences from a letter to Rand Sterling, she doesn't realize the implications of how important they were. When she realizes he might be planning an escape, she suddenly understands that his source on the other side is telling him that tonight is not the time for the escape and to wait. She knows she must find Rand before he follows through on his plans and gets caught. If she doesn't reach him in time, it might just cost him his life and she will be forever responsible. I received Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions found in this review are strictly my own. Liz Tolsma takes readers into the heart of what it was like for many Americans who found themselves as prisoners of war by the Japanese just at the beginning of WWII. I never considered the implications of how difficult it was to survive in camps where they were refusing to provide all the contents of the Red Cross kits to help them survive while the Japanese kept them barely on the brink of being alive. Disease and malnutrition were slowly killing them while they struggled to find hope in the midst of a different kind of victim of war. I easily give this wonderful novel a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars. There is a Reader's Discussion Guide included at the conclusion of this novel that is perfect for book clubs.
I have read and enjoyed each book that this author has written and this one is no exception. It tells the compelling story of those placed in the interment camps in the Philippines by the Nazis during WWII and the horrors they faced. I was caught up in the lives of Rand, a once successful night club owner, and Irene and her aunt Anita, who had been a missionary, from the first pages and was kept reading to see what could possibly happen next. This is another wonderful combination of history and romance and a beautiful picture of learning to trust in God in the worst of times and learning how to forgive those who cause so much hurt and pain. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good WWII historical fiction.
“Remember the Lilies” was a very moving story. I was amazed by Irene’s strength and how she really reflected a life of a Christian who doesn’t complain during hardships. It really humbled me (like it did Rand) to see what she endured, yet never blame God or complain about her circumstances. Rand was amazing in his own way as well. He matured a lot throughout this novel and I loved how he was able to demonstrate the kind of forgiveness Jesus teaches. The story was a little hard for me to get into at first and I think because in the beginning I didn’t like Rand. Once I got to know more of him I easily got into the story. It was very painful in places as well as heart-wrenching to see what these people went through. Liz Tolsma did a really good job of bringing the story to life of war during that time. I recommend this novel to historical readers who enjoy a growing romance with some suspense weaved in. It’s a story that will touch one’s heart as well as inspire to lean on God in every circumstance, whether it’s easy or not. *(I received this novel from Litfuse Publicity and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.)*
This story of Rand Sterling and Irene Reynolds in a WWII Philippines concentration camp will keep you reading from beginning to the end and leave you wanting more. The novel opens on December 8, 1942, the day after the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Rand Sterling is a successful night club owner who surrounds himself with fast sporty cars and beautiful women. The Japanese just attacked Pearl Harbor, but that is so far away it won't effect them here in Manila, will it? Skip to two years later and Rand is attempting to escape from a civilian POW camp, while Irene Reynolds, raised by her missionary aunt in the jungles of the Philippines, works in the censors office and finds a note "Perhaps another night will be better." Irene realizes this Rand Sterling is going to attempt an escape! She must try to stop him. She must try to help. This is just the beginning of the action and it continues throughout the book When you pick up Remember the Lilies (and you should!) be sure you have some time because you will not want to put it down until the end. Beware! Reading Remember the Lilies will make you think about life, love, forgiveness and God. It will take you into another time and a different world. And it will leave you wanting more.
First, I love the vintage looking cover. It’s so soft yet kind of mysterious as well. Second, I think Liz Tolsma is becoming my favorite historical romance writer, at least in the WWII era. I love how she takes this time period that many of are familiar with and takes us to places during the war that maybe we have never heard of or never given much thought to. Not only do you get a great read but you get a little history lesson as well :) There truly never was a dull moment in this book. Each chapter Liz upped the stakes for the two characters. I loved Irene’s heart (our heroine). She truly cares for others but has her own wounds to overcome as well, an absent mother and father. And then she discovers a secret about her father that could jeopardize her new friendship with Rand. Then there’s Rand who is finding his way in this new world of not being in control of everything. There were times I felt he was a bit over-confident, but that was his personality. Deep down he was a nice guy who God was going to work on. I can’t forget to mention Anita, Irene’s aunt. She is a voice of God’s truth and wisdom in this book and I adored her character. Overall, I recommend this read to anyone who loves historical romance. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In the misery and filth of a WWII internment camp in Japanese-controlled Manila, hope and love struggle to grow and bloom like lilies pushing up through the dirt. Summary: Manila, Philippines, 1943. Rand Sterling, a charming, former nightclub owner, is desperate to escape Santo Tomas Internment Camp to visit his dying servant and plans an escape with the help of his servant’s son. Former missionary Irene Reynolds, working in the censorship office at the interment camp, realizes too late the information she’s been ordered to cut from a letter to Rand is a warning against his planned escape attempt. When she does try to pass the information on to him, she’s almost caught by the guards dragging Rand away to the torture chambers of Fort Santiago. The next time she sees him, he’s back at the camp, barely alive, but alive is a surprise considering that most don’t return. At the hospital and later back at the internment camp, Rand, Irene, and Irene’s sick aunt strike up an unlikely friendship. But what does a difference in wealth and background matter is a place where everyone is dirty, starving, and a prisoner? Yet beyond the lack of food and proper sanitation lay other threats. A Japanese guard has set his sights on Irene and someone wants Rand back at Fort Santiago. Falling in love would only add to Rand and Irene’s troubles—and force them to reveal secrets they’d rather never see the light of day. Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma is worth reading simply for its unique and little told story of internees in the Pacific. But aside from historical interest, it is an engrossing tale and would be enjoyed by fans of historical romance. The characters are likable and the story intriguing with its twists and turns. Note: I received a free copy of this book for review, but all opinions are my own.
Foreign civilians in the Philippines are imprisoned by the marauding Japanese. As the war drags on, life gets increasingly difficult. The Japanese thrive on cruelty. They punish and execute for the least offense. They spoil food in front of their hungry prisoners for fun. Rand Sterling was a playboy nightclub owner. His wealth enables him to live better than others in the years of captivity. Irene Reynolds was a missionary kid living in the jungles with her aunt. Rand notices they refrain from complaining of privations. He’d heard the message of salvation, but never felt he needed it. Irene helps him believe God wants to forgive and accept him. Irene, despite her Christian beliefs, can be hard-hearted. She refuses to forgive her friend Mercedes for being friendly with the Japanese guard who attacked her. Liz Tolsma tells a compelling story of life under Japanese occupation. The unrelenting grimness as Rand and Irene cope with the Japanese and the mysterious Mr. Covey can be depressing, giving a real feel for the wartime experience of the internees.
Many of us are more familiar with the World War II stories that came out of Europe than those that were being played out in the Pacific theater. Author Liz Tolsma helps to correct that with her third book, Remember the Lilies. The Japanese occupied the city of Manila, Philippines in January 1942, less than one month after Pearl Harbor. They rounded up most of the foreigners living there and transported them to the campus of the University of Santo Tomas, which became home to more than 4,000 internees, most of which were Americans. Some people entered camp with money and supplies and others with only the clothes on their backs. In this fictional account of the historical event, Rand Sterling, a wealthy nightclub owner in Manila entered with money and connections, while Irene Reynolds moved in with little more than the company of her blind missionary aunt, Anita. The tension is therefore set up between Irene and Rand who appear to have nothing in common and yet are connected through a bad employee who defrauded Rand. But the story goes through many twists and turns before that is revealed. Even though romantic novels are not my favorite genre, I loved this book. I think its success is that it is so much more than just a romantic novel. The author has brought the years of confinement in Santo Tomas internment camp to life. The camp was not liberated until February 1945. Much like the real event, these characters lived out their existence with individual sacrifice, heroism or collusion with the Japanese. They faced hard choices of whether to protect their children or stand on their principles. By bringing everyone down to living at a subsistence level during these prolonged years of hardship, the unlikely love story of Rand and Irene becomes absolutely believable. The horrors of war had the capacity to erase different economic and social status that would have made such a match impossible outside of the camp. The more than three years of confinement also gave the relationship enough time to develop. War does change people. For some it brings out the best, for others their circumstances crush them. The faith first expressed by Anita and then gradually voiced by Irene, Rand and Dr. Young successfully shows the power of the gospel as the true hope that shines like a bright light in dark times. This novel finds the perfect balance between the historical narrative, the love story and the importance of faith. That balance allows the reader to be believably carried back to the World War II drama in the Philippines. It is a well told story and a very enjoyable read. Highly recommended.
How does a writer turn a World War II story of life inside the dreary confines of a life draining Japanese internment camp into a riveting romantic suspense novel? Lis Tolsma has done just that in her amazing story of courage and survival in Santo Tomas Internment Camp, near Manilla in the Philippines. In that camp, the lifestyles of wealthy playboy, Rand Sterling and missionary Irene Reynolds collide. These two very different people must dance their way through the entrapment of their Japanese captors, as well as the entrapment of their own needy hearts, while they attempt to stay alive. Accompanied by a cast of equally needy internees, these two struggle to maintain their courage, dignity and faith in the face of incredible odds against their survival. To the very last pages, the reader wonders if these two will make it out alive, much less fall in love and marry. "Remember the Lilies" by Liz Tolsma will indeed capture the hearts and imaginations of readers long after the back cover shuts on this incredible read. I heartily recommend this book for adult readers. However, due to a few violent scenes, some readers may find this book emotionally difficult to read in places. I received this book in exchange for writing reviews and promoting it as an influencer. I am under no obligation to post a positive review.