Review of ‘The promise’ by Claire Highton-Stevenson.

Susan and Ali Jenkins are happily married until Susan is diagnosed with terminal cancer. With little time left, Susan asks Ali to promise her that when she’s gone Ali will be open to a new chance at love. Will Ali keep her promise?

This is a story that deals with a few difficult issues such as terminal illness, death and bereavement, but also conveys a message of hope and love. Normally books about widows finding love again don’t narrate the loss part or they just describe it as a flashback. This case is different. ‘The promise’ is divided into two parts: the first deals with Susan’s illness and death, and the second, much longer, narrates Ali’s struggle to cope with her loss and to keep her promise. It isn’t hard to guess that part 1 is as heartbreaking as part 2 is hopeful.

The book is written in third person from the point of view of Susan, Ali and Susan’s nurse Blair. In the second part, Susan keeps her voice in short flashbacks as Ali’s memories. Despite the issues involved in the story, the tone is not melodramatic or excessively dark mainly due to Susan’s personality and selflessness. Ali’s characterisation is realistic in her pain and struggle, and Blair is also portrayed with authenticity in how she’s ready to help as a nurse and a friend.

My only issue with this book that is reflected in my rating is that the novel has some minor editing issues like the usage of commas and some typos. Additionally, in my opinion, the balance between show and tell is a bit off and the introduction of some secondary characters is a bit confusing. Despite that, the story is engaging, compelling and will definitely tug at the reader’s heartstrings.

Overall, a moving and emotional read that will invoke both sadness and hope. 4 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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