Book Reviews: Promises to Keep

Monday, November 29, 2010

Promises to Keep
by: Jane Green

Green’s latest is an overlapping tale of a few women. Callie is a cancer survivor and a mother or two with loving, workaholic husband. Her sister Steffi is living with her rocker boyfriend and working as a vegan chef. Callie’s best friend Lila is an average looking girl who almost got married out of a sense of obligation, but backed out at the last minute. Now, at 42, she’s finally in love. Despite the surface summary, the plot takes a darker turn than many of Green’s previous novels, which gives it a bit more depth.

I didn’t love this book because there were far too many different stories being woven together. We hear bits and pieces from the point-of-view of the two sisters, their mother, their single father, their friend Lila, a customer of Steffi’s, etc.

Steffi’s subplot with her customer/friend Mason could easily have been axed. Also, the friend Lila’s decision to have or not have kids added little to the story. It’s not that the subplots are bad, they’re just distracting. Green also adds a recipe at the end of each chapter and that got old after a bit. It isn’t a cookbook and wasn’t really necessary.


Towards the second half of the book we realize that Callie’s cancer has relapsed and the book finds its much need focus.

“It was a dream in which Steffi was shocked and thrilled to find Callie was alive, that it had all been a terrible mistake. She awoke, the dream as vivid as life, and burst into tears. For the entire week she bore again the weight of the loss, suddenly as sharp and searing as it had ever been.”

That line is what told me Green experienced this loss, somehow, in her own life. I know those dreams and have had them too many times. You wake, completely forgetting that person is gone, and slowly the memory of their death creeps into your consciousness and breaks your heart all over again.

I found out later that Green lost a close friend to this rare form of breast cancer and this book was born of that grief.


Vaishnavi said...

I read Jane Green's Babyville and absolutely loved it. I haven't come across this one though. Thanks for sharing!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I like my chick-lit with a bit of depth to it as well. That’s why Marian Keyes, with her themes of depression and alcoholism, is my favorite.

You know, I’ve notice that the blogs I follow have been reviewing more chick-lit (and romance) lately. Is it the cold weather, you think?

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Alexandra - I really like Keyes' work too. And I agree, it can still be chick lit with a bit of depth. I don't like ones that offer nothing of substance.

Maybe it is the cold weather. I only read 3 or so chick lit books a year, but it's nice to pick one up for a lighter read.