Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review: The Mother's Promise

Summary: All their lives, Alice Stanhope and her daughter, Zoe, have been a family of two, living quietly in Northern California. 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 needs to fight for her life.

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers but who are her only hope: Kate, a 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 most dismal moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters and the new ways in which families are forged. -- St. Martin's Press

Mother's Day is right around the corner. Well, it's really about six weeks away, but I recently read a novel that I think would make a wonderful mother's day gift. The book is THE MOTHER'S PROMISE by Sally Hepworth, and it's a story that celebrates all types of mothers.

THE MOTHER'S PROMISE tells the story of Alice Stanhope and her daughter Zoe. Alice is a single mother and her life revolves around Zoe. These two have depended on each other with little help from others... and that includes Zoe's father whom she's never met. All moms are protective of their children, but Alice is extremely protective Zoe because she has severe social anxiety disorder.

Things become even more complicated for these two when Alice receives a terminal cancer diagnosis. She has no family or friends to turn to, and she's extremely concerned about Zoe's future. As Alice gets weaker, she finds that she must reach out to two virtual strangers to help with Zoe -- Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. While trying to help Alice and Zoe, Kate and Sonja must also face some insecurities about themselves and their own families. These four women are brought together by an unfortunate event; however, they pull together for Zoe's sake... and in the process, they learn about the strength of women and especially mothers.

THE MOTHER'S PROMISE is some novel. It's beautiful and heartwarming, but it's also touching. I ended up crying towards the end of this book, and that's not something I do with regularity. I have to say that I really enjoyed this novel, but it wasn't an easy book for me to read. Books about terminal cancer are always difficult to process, but a mother leaving her child (and a sensitive one at that) was especially heartbreaking for me.

I knew fairly early on that Alice and Zoe's part of this novel would be the primary one; however, I wasn't expecting the other characters to have their own in-depth storylines. In fact, I was impressed with how well the author developed all four of these characters. The novel was written in alternating chapters about each of the characters' stories, and I appreciated getting an inside look into each women's life and thoughts. Kate was a nurse who was desperate to have a baby. She and her husband (who already had children) were willing to do almost anything to have a child... until he wasn't. And Sonja had an odd (and honestly, pretty abusive) relationship with her husband.

As you can probably tell by now, this novel had its dark moments because it delved into some pretty serious topics including a terminal illness, a crippling social anxiety disorder, an abusive marriage, and infertility. But before you write off this book as being one big cry fest, I want to tell you that there were light moments in this novel... just like real life. I actually found myself laughing at parts of this book. There were also a few surprises and twists thrown in too. In addition, the author did a beautiful job of showing the bond between mothers and daughters.

THE MOTHER'S PROMISE isn't the first book I've read by Ms. Hepworth. That would be THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES which I also enjoyed -- you can read my review here. One thing I can definitely say about Ms. Hepworth is that she isn't afraid to tackle difficult issues. What impressed me so much about this novel though was how genuine she made these women. I could feel their pain and my heart broke for each one of them. Furthermore, I learned a lot about these serious issues and thought the author portrayed them in a realistic way.

THE MOTHER'S PROMISE would make an excellent book club pick especially for groups with moms. The book delves into so many serious issues (I think I mentioned most of them above), but the real crux of the novel was the bond between women and especially mothers and daughters. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find discussion questions; however, I'm not sure you would need a formal guide because there is so much to talk about.

THE MOTHER'S PROMISE would make a wonderful gift for the women (and especially mothers) in your life. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I keep hearing good things about this book. It sounds beautiful.

Kim@Time2Read said...

I reviewed this one earlier this month and I agree, it would make a great book club selection! Even without a readers guide, I know there is plenty I would like to discuss. BTW, you should add The Things We Keep to your reading list. This is another very good read from Sally Hepworth.

The Book Sage said...

What about us men? It sounds like it's right up my alley. And I see you're reading Homegoing for your book club. I really liked that book. The author is local (Northern California), and I had a chance to see her when the book first came out. I liked her.

Mommy In Color said...

This review puts me in the mind of a movie called.Mother and Child. Its about adoption but the way you've described how,your novrl talk about mother/ child bonds, I was,reminded of it. I can't wait to read it and I hope you'll check out Mother and Child. Samuel L Jackson is,amazing playing a role unfamiliar to his usual roles. Enjoy!