Published by St. Martin's Press on February 21st 2017
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Women's Fiction
A new poignant and breathtaking novel from the author of The Things We Keep and The Secrets of Midwives.
With every book, Sally Hepworth becomes more and more known for her searing emotional portraits of families—and the things that test their bonds. In The Mother’s Promise, she delivers her most powerful novel yet: the story of a single mother who is dying, the troubled teenaged daughter who is battling her own demons, and the two women who come into their lives at the most critical moment.
Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two all their lives. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works—until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and is given a grim prognosis.
Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, her oncology nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets—secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family. Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the power of love and forgiveness.
You know, if Sally Hepworth continues to write like this, I could probably write a heartfelt review about my own experiences every single time. I told myself that I would actually write about the book in my review this time around.
“Happiness was something you shared, chatted about, asked after. Suffering was something that you had to do behind closed doors, in silence, all alone.”
It is quite possible that I fell in love with The Mother’s Promise even more than I did with The Things We Keep. Which is saying something, because that book was beautiful and really resonated with me personally. But this book just hit home for me in all the right places, and I don’t think any words I come up with will be able to do the story justice. Nevertheless, I will try.
The bond between a mother and daughter when the daughter is ill can be really special. When I found out about my anxiety and depression, my mother really stepped up and became my biggest source of comfort and support. Without her, I would not be where I am today. Possibly, I would not even be here today. She is such a trooper and my biggest help – she makes me comfort food, watches Disney with me, gives me hugs when I need them, and takes me everywhere I need to go. As far as neurotypical people can understand, she understands. And yes, I am constantly worried that something could happen to her. That’s why I found so much of our relationship in the story of Alice and Zoe. They were a team.
I loved Alice in that she was such an advocate for humour in troubling times. When she received bad news, she made jokes. When she wasn’t feeling well, she made jokes. “Humour is tragedy’s best friend,” they say, and that’s one belief I fully stand behind. You should take everything life throws at you with several grains of salt and sprinkle them on your Margaritas. If I didn’t have my sense of humour, I would have lost my sanity a long time ago.
Zoe, of course, was infinitely relatable. She has severe social anxiety disorder with a really weird interest in public speaking. It goes without saying that these two probably do not go so well together. But still, she goes out there and gives it her all. It goes wrong several times. Anxious people and even just introverts will recognise themselves in a huge part of Zoe’s journey.
So then what happens if you’re so dependent and reliant on your mother, and suddenly she gets cancer? It is honestly one of my biggest fears, and to see it written out like this touched several emotional chords for me. As some people know, I am generally a heartless monster and only cry when something happens to an animal. But I was teary-eyed throughout the whole book. It gave me a case of “THE FEELS” reminiscent of Me Before You.
I also really appreciated the fact that there was a character with Crohn’s disease. It’s not exactly a disease that can be romanticised in literature, which is why you never read about it. Gastrointestinal illnesses are icky and therefore stigmatised. But it’s there, and it’s important that people are able to talk about this. I don’t have Crohn’s, thankfully, but I’ve been struggling with my intestines for the past 11 years, so I can only give extra bonus points here.
And you know, I could probably fill my whole review with quotes from the book, because the writing felt effortless and there were a lot of really good, quotable parts. But maybe you’ll just have to go and read the book for yourself and find the beauty within.
Thank you St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy