Remember the Lilies

1401689140.jpgBook Review: Remember the Lilies

Author: Liz Tolsma

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Amazon’s website description of Remember the Lilies:

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.


Remember the Lilies is a fascinating read that explores what life was like for the civilian POWs in the Philippines, and in Manila particularly. This aspect of WW2 was one I’d never read about before. In fact, it had never occurred to me that there would be civilians under Japanese rule during the war. The fact that Tolsma brought to life a period of history I was unaware of, and one that I’d never read about, kept me interested throughout the book. She chose a period of history that is a bit more obscure, and brought it to life in stunning, and sometimes horrifying, detail.

Just like in her book, Daisies are Forever, Tolsma does a good job of crafting an unlikely friendship, then a romance, between the two main characters. Rand and Irene’s relationship progresses naturally, though not without bumps. I also liked the less important character of Mercedes, the part she played in the story, and another aspect of how life might have been for those people.

While reading the book, I was trying to figure out why the book was titled Remember the Lilies. Perhaps it occurred to other readers right away that this title references a passage of Scripture, but it didn’t to me. It wasn’t until the end of the book when the author really brought out that particular theme that I understood why the title was chosen, and how perfectly it fit and encompassed the entire book. The themes of relying on God to be our help, of forgiveness, and of the sovereignty of God, are brought out beautifully in this book.

The pacing of Remember the Lilies was great. I never felt a lull where I got bored or disinterested. Then, at the very end, Tolsma threw in a twist I wasn’t expecting, which was both intriguing and poignant.

One of my favorite lines in the book was this one. “The life of glittery high society holds no appeal for me anymore. Not since I’ve become a follower of Christ. I thought I was somebody. He reduced me to a nobody, then made me a somebody in Him. He saved me.” Isn’t that true of all of us who are saved in Christ?

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. Add a dog and a cat to that mix and there’s always something going on at their house. She’s spent time teaching second grade, writing advertising for a real estate company, and working as a church secretary, but she always dreamed of becoming an author. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. She’d love to have you visit her at or at

I was given a review copy of Remember the Lilies from the author in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

One response »

  1. I’ve never heard of this book, but it sounds interesting!


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