Promise Me – Jill Mansell

Published By: Headline
Pages: 400
Released On: 19/01/2023

One minute Lou is happily employed, with a perfect flat. The next, her home and job have gone. Suddenly she has to start over.

The last thing Lou wants is to move to a tiny Cotswolds village. She certainly doesn’t intend to work for curmudgeonly eighty-year-old Edgar Allsopp. But Edgar is about to make her the kind of promise nobody could ignore. In return, she secretly vows to help him fall in love with life again.

Foxwell is also home to Remy, whose charm and charisma are proving hard to ignore. But Lou hasn’t recovered from the last time she fell for a charmer. She needs a distraction – and luckily one’s about to turn up.

Secrets never stay hidden for long in Foxwell, nor are promises always kept. And no one could guess what lies ahead.

*****

Thanks to Emily Patience at Headline for the gifted advanced proof of this title in return for an honest review.

There’s a reason why Jill has sold over 14 million books. You can always rely on her novels to be entertaining, moving, funny, kind, warming and cuddly.

I’m going to come straight in and say I really loved Edgar. Yes he was a grumpy, cantankerous, miserable old man, but I really did love him. There was something about him that really endeared to me and I was happy to go on his journey with him. And I know this was technically Lou’s story – and it was a good story and she was a god character – but for me, Edgar stole the show from her and the other characters. He found a special place in my heart.

There are some characters, I will say, that are real pieces of work. They’re written so well, they just ooze venom straight off the page, they’re so slimy and I really didn’t like them. I felt so protective over Lou and Edgar, especially Edgar, and I just wanted to storm in and protect him. Jill has such a great ability to create very real characters, not perfect, full of flaws, but so very human. I also loved Captain Oates – the dog. He’s like Edgar in dog form and he was a lovely little addition.

What I really loved was the slow burning relationships: Lou and Edgar, Edgar and Captain Oates, Lou and Remy, Sammy and Jess. It all worked and it gave you something to get your teeth stuck into and really care about.

It was surprisingly emotive. I wasn’t expecting to be so touched and so moved – I’m not sure why I wasn’t – but it really touches you and pulls at the heartstrings. And you’re plodding on, sniffling a bit, and then it hits you with a massive emotional bomb and I was sobbing. I’m not a pretty crier at any rate, but this was not pretty. I’m not going to say what stemmed it, that would be a big spoiler and I do my best not to spoil things, but for this point I’m glad I was reading it in the privacy of my own home.

Jill has managed to balance the sad and the heartbreak with the good and the laughter. It’s a delicate balance but she manages it. It’s never over-the-top false funny or unbelievably rosy, but it’s also never too depressing. It just works.

It is completely addictive. Due to other annoying adult responsibilities, I had to read it over a few nights, but if you’d given me an uninterrupted day, I would have easily read it in one stint, you just can’t stop. Obviously it’s not full of the types of twists and turns that, say, a murder mystery would have. But it’s full of little surprises that just make you smile and I’m totally here for it.

There’s no real need for a sequel but I would love to read more of Lou’s story, see how the residents of Foxwell are getting on, new and old relationships and whatnot.

On the back cover of the proof, author Sophie Kinsella says it’s “like a little blast of sunshine”, and I completely agree. It’s so uplifting and feel good, you just can’t help but be moved along with it. You know you’re always going to get a good read with a Jill Mansell book and this was no different. She really earns the Queen of Feelgood Fiction title.

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