Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Promises to Keep

Summary: From the New York Times bestselling author-a momentous new novel about a family suddenly thrown together.

Callie Perry is a successful family photographer living in upstate New York. She adores her two daughters, has great friends, and actually doesn't mind that her workaholic husband gets home at 9 p.m. every night-that is, when he's not traveling six months out of the year.

Callie's younger sister, Steff, on the other hand, has never grown up. She's a free spirit, living in downtown Manhattan and bouncing between jobs and boyfriends. Lately, she's been working as a vegan chef, even though she can't cook.

Lila Grossman is Callie's best friend and has finally met the man of her dreams. Eddie has two wonderful children, but also a drama queen ex-wife who hates Lila. And then there are Callie and Steff's parents, Walter Cutler and Honor Pitman. Divorced for thirty years, they rarely speak to each other.

The lives of these colorful characters intersect when they each receive a shocking note that summons them together for one extraordinary summer in Maine and changes their lives forever. This novel is about the hard choices we have to face, about having to be your parents' child long after you've grown up, and about the enduring nature of love. -- Viking

I think I've read everything (or almost everything) that Jane Green has ever written. As far as I'm concerned, she does chick lit pretty well. I have loved most of her novels, but to be honest, there was one or two that didn't really resonate with me. However, I recently read her latest book PROMISES TO KEEP, and I absolutely loved it! I think I'd still classify this novel as chick lit, but it's definitely mature chick lit. It's not just about a young single girl in a big city -- it's about all kinds of love. In fact, I broke down and cried while reading this one.

Throughout the first couple of chapters, I was kind of amazed by how much Callie and I had in common. We were both the older sister by nine years, we both had a daughter and son around the same age, we both started a book club, and we had both decided to leave the city and stay at home with our kids. And then, there were the really strange coincidences like our father's first name was Walter and we both were helping our daughters get ready for Colonial Day at school. But what really resonate with me about Callie was the relationship with her husband. I could totally relate to some of her descriptions about their relationship. For example, she mentioned that so many of her friends felt the need to complain about their spouses and that their attitudes were something she couldn't understand. Callie and I were so much alike in so many ways that I found myself really becoming very attached to her character.

And I just didn't love Callie. There was such a terrific cast of characters in this book. Callie's sister Steff was in some ways a lost soul when the book begins. I appreciated how her character matured throughout the book, and I especially enjoyed how she reassessed what she thought was important to her. I also really liked Callie's friend Lila. She was an incredibly strong person and so loyal to Callie. But I also really liked how she saw life differently by the end of the novel. In addition, I thought Callie's and Steff's parents were interesting in their own right; and I thought their personalities explained a great deal about the decisions Callie and Steff made in their own lives. I even thought the secondary characters brought something extra to the story. Overall, I liked each of the characters and how they related to each other.

Another fun thing about this novel was that there were loads of recipes included at the end of every chapter (and you know I love books with recipes.) The character Steff was a chef who specialized in vegetarian cooking so many of her "specialties" were included in this book. But there were also some of the other characters' recipes as well. There was even a delicious dairy free recipes for Almost Flourless Orange and Almond Cake with Marmalade.

I think what I enjoyed the most about this book is how it made me feel. It was a highly entertaining story with memorable characters. It made me laugh and it made me cry. But more than that, it made me think about my life and where I'm at in it. It made me reassess my relationship with my family, my children, my husband, and my friends; and it definitely made me look at my role in their lives. In addition, I think this novel made me appreciate how very lucky I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

Suffice it to say, I don't want to give any spoilers about this book because I want you to read it. But I will tell you that the author drew me right into Callie's life; and then pulled the rug out from under me. I mentioned earlier that this novel did cause me to shed some tears, but it's probably more appropriate for me to say that I sobbed at times. I have a feeling that even if I didn't relate to such to Callie, I still would have loved this book and been deeply affected by it. It was just that I really felt as if parts of Callie's story could happen to me.

PROMISES TO KEEP would make a fantastic book club pick. I wasn't able to find any discussion questions at this time; however, I don't think they are necessary to discuss this novel. Besides analyzing all of the wonderful characters, you also might want to touch on the themes of sisterly relationships, parent/child relationships, marriage, divorce, illness, grief, love, sacrifice, and friendship. You could even make some of the recipes that are included in this novel for your meeting. I'm pretty sure most female book clubs would love reading and discussing this book!

I highly recommend PROMISES TO KEEP. It's a very entertaining story that just might cause you to look at your life a little differently.

Note: Author Jane Green is donating 20% of her royalties to breast cancer research.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.


Anonymous said...

I've read most if not all of Green's books too. Wasn't happy about Dune Road but this one sounds much better.

Beth F said...

I have two Green books on my eReader -- and (yes, I'm a broken record) I haven't read them yet. This sounds fun.

bermudaonion said...

Wow! It sounds like Jane Green was peeking in your windows! This book sounds like a great beach read.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I can't believe how much you have in common with the main character - how eerie!

Beth Hoffman said...

I've never read anything by Jane Green. This one sounds like a good summer read. Thanks, Julie!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I haven't read anything by Green either, but you've convinced me :)

Amused said...

I think I've read almost all of Jane Green's books and pretty much love them all so I will definitely be adding this one to my list too!

Darlene said...

This book really sounds fantastic and anything with recipes is a huge bonus for me!