Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: "Promises to Keep" by Jane Green

Callie Perry feels that she pretty much has it all. She's more in love with her husband than ever, she adores her children, and she's managing to run a successful photography business in her spare moments. Sure, her husband Reece travels a lot, but she's happy for the breathing room that gives her, and even happier when he arrives home.

Callie's little sister Steffi doesn't see what she is so excited about. Steffi is a chef at a now-popular Vegan restaurant, and she can't seem to keep a boyfriend for that long. The boyfriend's that she does choose are aspiring artists, rock stars, and generally bad boys, unable to take her out for fancy dinners or even get up before noon, but that suits her just fine. She sees no need to embrace her sister's life and settle down in the suburbs with a couple of kids and a husband.

Callie and Steffi's parents, Honor and Walter, want different things from life as well. Long divorced, Walter remains rigid, trying to live up to the standards that his last name implies he should have. He nurses a long time resentment towards his ex-wife Honor, who is everything that he's not- free-spirited and above all, following her dreams.

When Callie, Steffi, Honor and Walter receive some shocking news, life takes a rapid nosedive. Suddenly the four are thrown together for one heartbreaking summer, and nothing will be the same.

I've long heard that Jane Green is an author that no chick lit lover such as myself should miss out on. For some reason, I haven't had the opportunity to read one of her books yet, so this was my first. Now, I can't believe that I hadn't read anything by her sooner! Once I started, I couldn't stop reading, even forgoing the beautiful views of the lake this weekend while on a friend's boat to read just one more chapter!

I really connected to the character of Callie. What makes a good book great for me is if I can connect to one of the characters. If I have problems connecting, the story, no matter how good it is, fails to hold my interest. In Promises to Keep, the character of Callie can't believe how good her luck is. She loves her husband, even more than when they first started dating, she's pursuing her passion, photography, and she loves her precocious children, feeling blessed to be their mom. She doesn't understand why her sister refuses to settle down, refuses to experience the bliss that she feels on a regular basis. On the other hand, she's overworked, making long lists of things that she needs to do for herself, for her family, for her business. As happy as she is, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. The fact that I felt connected to Callie made me care about what happened to her in the story, and kept me frantically turning the pages so that I could find out what happened next.

Be warned that the story is not all roses and sunshine. The situation that the Tollemarche family finds themselves dealing with is both devastating and heartbreaking, and Jane Green`s delicate portrayal of a family in crisis plants this book firmly in the "well-written women`s fiction" genre for me.

Jane Green has written a book both intelligent and thought-provoking, and I can't recommend it highly enough. I loved this book so much, in fact, that I went out and bought three more of hers right after reading it, although I suspect that her previous books may be a little more light-hearted than this one. She tells a story worth telling, and even though the subject matter may not be the lightest, I still recommend that everyone who loves well-written women's fiction takes the time to read it this summer.

Thank-you to Penguin Canada for this review copy!

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fans of intelligent women's fiction, those who have enjoyed books such as Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin or The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010, 2010 Chick Lit Challenge


  1. I'm excited to read it when it comes out this summer. I plan to do a giveaway too. (I e-mailed with Jane Green last week.) I hope you enjoy her other books too. Check out "Jemima J" sometime. It's a classic!

  2. I'm going to tell you a secret, Jonita: I've only read one book by Jane Green, and I really disliked it! I know that, to chick lit fans like us, that seems like sacrilege... but I don't know. It was Mr. Maybe, read a year ago, and I thought it sucked.

    With an author as popular as Green, though, I know there's something I'm just missing -- and your review has reaffirmed that for me! I'm definitely going to look for this one and hope to pick up another of hers soon. I think I have Dune Road and The Beach House in my bookcase, come to think of it, but I have to double check...

  3. Melissa: I will definitely be checking out "Jemima J"- I've heard that it is her best novel!

    Meg: I know how you feel- I remember reading a book by Wendy Holden, whom I usually enjoy, and being so disappointed by how stupid the main character seemed! I think that I gave the book 2 stars or something. I guess that they can't thrill us every time!!! I will avoid "Mr.Maybe", because our tastes are so similar, but I would highly recommend this one :)

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