Thursday, July 8, 2010

Promises to Keep by Jane Green

Promises to Keep by Jane Green (Rated: P mild)
Viking Canada
ISBN 97806700691
Published June 2010
Hardcover, 352 pages

Reviewed by Sandra

We meet Steffi, one of the main characters in this novel, at a vegan restaurant in New York City where she is the chef, a self-described "rock chick and vegan chef". As a thoroughly modern woman, Steffi drifts from one romantic encounter to another without any stability in her life. Her sister, Callie, the heroine of this novel, is completely the opposite. She has a perfect life, it seems - a husband who loves her, two delightful children, loyal friends, a home in the suburbs, and a growing career in photography. She is so happy. Walter and Honor, their parents, divorced for 30 years, despair that Steffi will ever learn responsibility. Multi-tasker Callie, on the other hand, exudes success in life, so they have no worries about her. Then news arrives that drastically affects and changes each of the relationships in this close-knit extended family as they strive to understand and cope with the terminal illness of one of their own.

The character development is very good. I felt that I knew each person by the time I was mid-way through the story. The last half of the book is very poignant, particularly if the reader has experienced the loss of a friend/family member to cancer. The narrative reminded me of the hospital vigil with my mother as we hopefully looked for even the tiniest indication of improvement. However, the intensity of the narrative is relieved, curiously enough, by the delightful addition of recipes. It somehow works.

By the end of the book the reader understands that the extended family will survive and prosper despite their year of tragedy and sadness. Romance, babies, security, contentment, and peace are on the horizon. Life does indeed go on.

One negative is the use of expletives. The story is not enhanced by their usage. Otherwise, this is a book that I recommend. It is a portrayal of the love and support that family members bring to a tragedy. In fact, it is a love story in all its various facets.

Disclosure: Thanks to Barbara Bower from Penguin Group Canada for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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