Promises to Keep: A Novel

Promises to Keep: A Novel

by Jane Green

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452297173
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/31/2011
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 658,787
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

A former journalist in the UK and a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York, Jane Green has written many novels (including Jemima J, The Beach House, and, most recently, Falling), most of which have been New York Times bestsellers, and one cookbook, Good Taste. Her novels are published in more than twenty-five languages, and she has over ten million books in print worldwide. She lives in Westport, Connecticut, with her husband and a small army of children and animals.

Hometown:

Westport, Connecticut

Date of Birth:

May 31, 1968

Place of Birth:

London, England

Education:

"Managed to drop out of Fine Art Degree at University."

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
Promises to Keep is about the ties that bind and a circle of people united by love, who are there for one another despite sisterly differences, thirty–year–old grudges, and difficult ex–wives. Here, Jane Green has written a novel from the heart, filled with people she knows and lessons she is grateful to have learned.

Callie Perry seems to have figured it all out. She's a wonderful mother of two, wife of a great guy, friend to many, and big sister settled in Bedford, New York, making a good living as a family photographer. Her free–spirited younger sister, Steffi, finally seems to be settling down a bit herself—at least when she discovers that house sitting a big dog in a country house really can compete with a life of ne'er–do–well rocker boyfriends and cramped Manhattan apartments.

Callie's best friend, Lila, is also riding a wave of good fortune. She's finally met the man of her dreams, Ed, a lovable Brit with a wonderful son from a previous marriage. The only problems: Ed comes with a horrific ex–wife and the desire to have more kids, and Lila had long ago decided that kids weren't in her future. But maybe, for such a special guy…

Honor and Walter are Callie's divorced parents who haven't spoken in thirty years. So Callie and Steffi couldn't be more shocked when they learn the truth of what's really going on between them.

At Callie's birthday celebration, her friends gather around her, and her husband, Reece, gives a toast to Callie's four cancer–free years. But when Callie's headaches start up again with fierce intensity, it's hard not to notice that her usual radiance is gone. She is readmitted to the hospital, and the outlook isn't good. The cancer she fought so hard to beat years before has returned in a rare but deadly form called leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. Everyone receives the news nobody wants to hear: If she's lucky, Callie has one year left to enjoy the wonderful life she created, the life she so deserves.

Based in part on Jane Green's experience with losing her dear friend Heidi to cancer, Promises to Keep is her most personal and powerful novel yet. It is about loving and letting go, but it's also about finding one's authentic self, having courage, and living fully a life filled with love.



ABOUT JANE GREEN

Jane Green Warburg has written eleven previous novels as Jane Green, several of which were New York Times bestsellers. A native Londoner, she lives, writes, and cooks in Connecticut with her husband, Ian Warburg, and their blended family of six children.



A CONVERSATION WITH JANE GREEN
Q. "Heidi's Story" reveals that this novel emerged from your personal experience of losing one of your best friends to cancer. How did that affect your writing process? Do you consider this novel more autobiographical than other books you've written?

This isn't Heidi's story, although I hope I have captured something of her spirit, nor is it autobiographical. What it is, however, is the most personal book I have ever written, because I wanted it to be a worthy tribute, and I wrote most of it when I was in the depths of grief. I put a little of me in all my characters, and certainly draw upon the themes of my life for inspiration, but the characters are all very much their own people.

Q. Promises to Keep centers on a profoundly emotional journey for Callie and her loved ones. What kind of emotional journey did you go through while writing the book?

I wrote some of the book while Heidi was ill, and we'd talk about it. I'd tell her about the characters, and it felt easy and fun. Then, as Heidi became sicker, I didn't have the emotional reserves to keep writing, and I didn't start again until after she died. I wrote the book, as I write all of them, at the local library, and found myself regularly stopping to bury my head in my hands and sob. It was draining, and cathartic. I needed to write about it to process my feelings, but it didn't make the loss any easier.

Q. The characters in this novel represent a wide range of parenting styles, shaped in part by gender, generation, and socioeconomic status. What observations or reflections do you have about current parenting trends?

I heard someone say recently that they grew up in a time when adults were the boss, and they are now living in a time when children are the boss, so when is it going to be their turn? It made me laugh and has a familiar ring of truth. Parenting, and particularly other people's parenting, tends to bring out the worst in us—never have I experienced more judgment than at the hands of other mothers, particularly of babies. Thankfully I am now older, and wiser, as are my children, and I think we are all doing the best we can. I like to think that I am raising my children to be adults, to exist as good people in the world, to recognize boundaries, to have good manners, and to respect others.

Q. Why did you decide to include recipes at the end of every chapter?

I am a huge foodie and a cook. I gather easy recipes from all over, create my own, and spend my life showing the people I love that I love them by cooking for them. When I started to write about Steffi and found myself including lavish descriptions of the food, it suddenly seemed obvious to include the recipes.

Q. As Lila prepares for Clay's recital, she thinks: "What on earth is she going to wear? Who, more importantly, does she want to be tonight?" [p. 144]. In this and other sections, the book takes up the question of how appearance and image relate to identity. Why is this theme especially important in a book about contemporary women?

Insecurity seems to be the curse of modern times, and too often we use the external as a form of armor, hoping the right stuff will make us feel good enough, will have others recognize us as being good enough. I don't think this applies to all modern women, but living in an affluent community brings with it a level of competition and brings out our worst insecurities.

Q. While you were writing, did you ever consider rewriting Heidi's history by having Callie survive her second fight with cancer? What made you decide that her death was a necessary part of the story?

I had to deal with my own grief, and this was the only way I knew how. And from the beginning, whatever had happened to Heidi, I knew that Callie wasn't going to make it. I wanted to look at grief, at how it changes things, how it brings people together.

Q. What words or images would you offer to someone whose loved one has been diagnosed with cancer?

I have to say that what happens to Callie occurs in less than 1 percent of cancer sufferers. It is extremely rare, and women reading this book should not be worrying that this will happen to them or those they love. Second, I would say that what I learned throughout my journey with my friend was that love is a verb. Anyone can say the words "I love you," but loving someone requires Acts. Of. Love. It is about putting that person first, making time for her, thinking of what you can do for her to make her happy before she has even had a chance to think about what that might be. And do it now. Not tomorrow. Or next week. Today is really all we have.



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • As readers, we get to glimpse the emotional dynamics of several close relationships: Callie and Reece's, Callie and Steffi,'s Ed and Lila's, Honor and Steffi,'s among others. In this way, Promises to Keep reveals various versions of intimacy. Which relationships did you find most intriguing? Which relationship dynamics resonate with your personal experiences?
  • Several characters in this novel grapple with social expectations, trying to balance their authentic selves with what family members and others expect of them. Hoping to be the kind of woman who will be attractive to a handsome Jewish man, Lila "even bought a Goyard bag, except it was from a street vendor in Chinatown and if you look closely you will see it says Coyerd. She didn't think anyone would notice, but when she passed the identikit princesses, she saw their eyes flick disdainfully over the bag, and she knew they knew" [p. 66]. Where else in the book do characters resist or respond to societal expectations?
  • At Callie's birthday party, Reece mentions her struggle with breast cancer four years before, which is when readers first learn of this aspect of her history. By this point in the novel, we already care about Callie and her loved ones. How does knowing about Callie's experience with breast cancer shed new light on her character?
  • Why do you think Jane Green chose the name Honor for Callie and Steffi's mother?
  • Describing Callie getting ready to host her book club, Green writes, "As with so many book clubs, it is less about the book and almost entirely about camaraderie…. Tonight, as with every other Book Club night, the women will dress up, put on makeup, sparkle just a little bit more. Not for their husbands, but for the other women" [p. 36]. How does this description compare with your experience being in a book club?
  • What do the recipes at the end of each chapter add to the novel? Do you like when authors choose to include recipes in novels?
  • Early in her marriage to Walter, Honor "would accompany Mrs. Tollemache on a tour to see how the disadvantaged lived, smiling and shaking gloved hands with those less fortunate, who seemed utterly shell–shocked at the arrival of these perfumed, bejeweled visitors" [p. 179]. Including a detail like "gloved hands" underscores the tensions around class difference. What other details or situations in the book echo this theme?
  • How does the return of Callie's cancer ultimately affect Steffi? Honor? Other characters?
  • "Upstairs, Eliza and Jack are fast asleep in their beds, Eliza with a cashmere sweater of Callie's wrapped around her, which she now refuses to sleep without" [p. 313]. Such small details can be strikingly poignant, even heartbreaking. Do any other sections of the novel stand out to you as especially moving? What coping mechanisms do you rely on to get you through difficult times?
  • As Callie's illness progresses, she begins to talk with her family and friends about death; she requests that they live life for her, that they continue to experience joy even when she cannot. Is this a fair request for Callie to make? Is it possible to live joyfully while grieving a devastating loss?

Customer Reviews

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Promises to Keep 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 177 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read every book by Jane Green and loved them. This one-not so much. The story line was not original and it was very weird to have recipes in between the chapters.Even if this book was a homage to her friend who passed away-it still was not a good read Don't waste your money
Dean41 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I did find it a little slow to get the sisters straight, at first, but as I got into a couple of chapters, I found myself into their lives; the characters developed as real people. I held my 2 year old daughter a little closer after I read it, but I did turn Mickey Mouse on for her,so I could finish the book. Very heartwrenching - as life is - good job writing, Jane.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Jane Green's books and this was not one of my favorites. The plot line rambles on between too many characters, from too many perspectives and it becomes a little boring to try to keep up. The outcome was predictable and anti climactic. It is honorable that this was written as a tribute to her friend, but she's definitely done better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Jane Green's books and this is the best yet!! The story is so touching and made me cry. If you love chit lit as much as do, this is one to add to your list!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. My only compliant is that product's were mentioned a lot in this book - made me feel like I was being advertised to...
Amzzz on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A good read. Very surprising - not your typical chick lit! I have actually used some of the recipes :)
minjung on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This book was about four women: two sisters, their mother, and a friend of one of the sisters.The younger of the two sisters, Steff, (although an adult) is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up, much to the consternation of the rest of her family. Her older sister, Callie, is happily married with two children. Their mother, Honor, has been divorced for a number of years. The friend, Lila, is Callie's BFF and seems to have met the man of her dreams after kissing many proverbial frogs.Like most of Jane Green's books, this book is a testament to friendship and the ties that bind.The biggest disappointment of this book, however, comes smack on the very first friggin' page of the book - the dedication. It pretty much foreshadows the biggest plot point of the book. I won't spoil the book further than that already did for other people, but that was really a bummer.I will say, however, that despite knowing what was coming, Green's poignant-as-ever writing still managed to evoke tears at two different points during the book. Kudos to her.one of the things I've always liked about Green is her writing style. I always imagine that she and I are in the corner of a coffee shop and she's pointing out each character to me personally. "Here's Callie. Notice how happy she is as picks up her children from school." She's merely making observations and pointing them out in a way that feels so personal and intimate that one can't help but have a cuppa while reading.
jlwllm12 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Green always pens a wonderful story. The story definitely tugs at all your heart strings. There is love and loss that go hand in hand. Green did it again!
bookworm12 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
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. ****SPOILER****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.
lollypop917 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Really enjoyed this wonderfully sad story. This was the first I have read by Jane Green and I was truly impressed by her well drawn characters. Read this one with a box of tissues and enjoy!
ANNEELISE on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Jane Green strays from her usual British humor with"Promises," the story of a family coping with life's scenarios. Green prods through the first half of the book by devoting chapters to describing different characters lives. Callie is a cancer survivor with a happy home, Steffi is her sister and a chef who can't seem to settle down, and Lila is Callie's friend grappling with middle age. Green also includes lack luster character description and story line for the divorced parents of Callie and Steffi. By the time the action truly begins, the reader is almost jaded by the intense character profiling. Interestingly, scattered throughout the novel are recipes. This was an unique choice by Green, as the reader can only assume that this is a nod to Steffi, the sister who is a chef. The story takes a much deeper turn midway through and becomes quite powerful at the end as the family must come to terms with life and hope. Clearly, writing "Promises to Keep," was a cathartic shift from Jane Green's usual humorous "chick lit" genre. In the back of the book, Green acknowledges her own grief of losing a friend to cancer.
brainella on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Jane Green needs to find a new genre. While I enjoy a good chick lit book every now and then, this one is just like all her other books. I know they sell well but it is getting old. Green is a good writer with great character development but when she writes the same vapid, perfectionist character each time...done.This book is about cancer and families and figuring it all out. Sorry but I wasn't impressed.
dasuzuki on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I've only read a couple books by Jane Green and was not impressed but this book was unbelievable. Granted I am 7 1/2 months pregnant and have a toddler of my own but this book had me bawling. I was so invested in the characters and what happened to each that I almost couldn't finish the book out of fear of what would happen. Steff is your typical chick lit, flighty character and you can pretty much predict what would happen to her in the end. Still the story was written in such a way that it will keep you engaged and hoping for a happy ending for all of the main characters. Callie's husband at first had me guessing if he was going to go the route of the busy working husband who would turn out to be a cheater or a loving husband that would be there no matter what. Really there wasn't anything I actively disliked about this story. The only slightly negative thing I can say is much of the story is predictable but I find that true of all chick lit books. This is definitely a must read book but have a few tissues on hand.
khager on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is about Callie (happily married and stay at home mom to two adorable kids) and the women closest to her (her younger sister Steffi and best friend Lila). Steffi's trying to figure out what to do with her life and Lila's finally dating the right guy, but now she has to deal with his insane ex-wife.And then (spoiler, because I HATE when things like this aren't disclosed) Callie's cancer comes back and it comes back in this rare way. They can't even discuss a cure; best case scenario, all they can do is keep her comfortable until the end. And there isn't much time left.I've read all 12 of Jane Green's books and this one is easily my favorite. It's sad, but it's not depressing. The three women are all amazing and I'd love to be friends with any of them. Definitely recommended, especially if you go into it knowing this isn't a light beach read.
Bookfinds on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The queen of women¿s fiction is back with her most emotional and powerful novel to date. Jane Green¿s Promises to Keep is the story of Callie Perry, a successful family photographer in upstate New York. Callie¿s younger sister Steff is a free-spirited city girl who has yet to land (in life, in love, or in work). And to complete the trio is Lila, Callie¿s best friend who has finally found love (and unfortunately her love has a nightmare of an ex). The heart of the story comes when Callie is given a brutal diagnosis and must come to terms with the finality of life. This is a novel about surviving, about love and friendship and the enduring power of the human spirit. Promises to Keep is an emotional journey that is well worth the trip. It will give readers a renewed appreciation for the life we live, the friends we make, and the promises we keep. A truly wonderful story.
Clara53 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This novel reminded me of the book "Belong to Me" by Marisa de los Santos. It's a sincerely written drama that the author has dedicated to a friend of hers who died of cancer (some details are taken from that friend's life). It is tragic, but at the same time it leaves one with a good feeling at the end.
writestuff on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Looking around the table, Steffi sees pain, and grief, sadness and loss. And yet¿and yet¿there is love, and laughter, and life. ¿ from Promises to Keep, page 336 -Steffi is living in New York City, a thirty year old free spirit who cooks for a restaurant during the day and parties at night ¿ jumping from one job to another, and finding all the wrong men. She couldn¿t be more different than her sister Callie who is married to the perfect guy and is mom to two adorable children. Callie works as a family photographer and seems to have it all ¿ love, family and success. When Steffi gets the opportunity to move closer to Callie as part of a pet-sitting job, she decides to try country life. She has no idea that over the next few months her life will be turned upside down when her beloved sister falls ill to a rare disease.I have to admit ¿ I picked up this book thinking it would be a light, easy ¿chick lit¿ kind of book. And it seemed to start that way. Jane Green quickly introduces the main characters: Mason, the publisher stuck in a dead-end marriage; Reece, Callie¿s loving husband who travels constantly for his job; Honor, Steffi and Callie¿s Bohemian mother; Walter, Steffi and Callie¿s father who has never stopped loving Honor despite their divorce years earlier; Lila Grossman, Callie¿s best friend who has finally found love; and, of course, Steffi and Callie who take center stage in the novel. But, as the story unfolds, it becomes much more than ¿chick lit.¿ Green gives her characters heart and authenticity ¿ real emotion rolls from the pages, and I found myself growing anxious for the characters. I did not want anything bad to happen to them. I became worried for Callie. In the final pages, tears rolled slowly down my cheeks. These characters became real for me ¿ not fictitious. It takes a talented writer to make a reader forget they are reading fiction, and that is what Green did for me.The heart of this novel finds its roots in Green¿s actual life. Last year her close friend Heidi lost a battle with breast cancer when she fell into the small percentage of patients who contract Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis ¿ a rare form of the disease which invades the central nervous system. The loss of Green¿s friend was heartbreaking, but it taught her about love and life¿and it was this journey through loss which gave Green the inspiration to write Promises to Keep.Green includes recipes throughout the book ¿ something that at first confused me. Why would an author insert recipes through a novel like this? But, eventually it began to make sense to me. Steffi is a chef ¿ when she is sad or anxious or depressed, she cooks. When she wants to help someone, she makes them food. And food is one of those things that is nurturing not only to our bodies, but to our souls. Providing food for someone is a way of holding them up, comforting them, and showing love. And that is what this novel is about ¿ being there for those you love, taking a painful journey through illness, giving comfort in times of need. Green¿s decision to intersperse recipes through her story was a relevant and meaningful one, and something which ultimately gave greater depth to the novel.This novel is about friendship, sisters, love, loss and moving forward through grief. It is about making hard choices. It is about growing up and finding oneself, even at age thirty or forty or seventy. I was tremendously touch by Callie¿s story and her impact on those around her. This book was a pleasant surprise ¿ far from being a ¿light¿ read, it ended up being one of those books which will stick with me for quite some time.Readers who enjoy women¿s fiction, novels about love and grief, and tender stories about family and friendship, will be drawn to Promises to Keep.Highly recommended.
Twink on LibraryThing 10 months ago
When I think of Jane Green, I automatically think 'chick lit'. Promises to Keep is chick lit, but with a lot more depth than I expected.Steffi just goes with the flow in life. When she's tired of a job, she moves on to the next one. She's great at what she does though - she's an amazing cook. It is this skill that introduces her to Mason, a well to do publisher, who loves her cooking. When things start to fall apart with her latest boyfriend and her current job has lost it's oomph, Mason's out of the blue offer looks really good. Dogsit for a year while he's in London - and stay at his country home in Maine. Steffi jumps at the chance and as a bonus she'll be closer to her big sister Callie.Callie has it all from the outside looking in - two great kids, a job she loves (photography) and a husband who loves her, even though he works too much.What starts out as an idyllic summer changes everyone's lives forever when unexpected news arrives.I fell in love with Steffi as soon as she was introduced. She's warm, caring, thoughtful and someone you'd like to know. Callie is as well, but a bit more reserved. As the book progressed, Callie's character is opened up more and I became more invested in her. Green's exploration of the relationships between the sisters is genuine. The supporting cast is filled with rich characters as well. Callie's best friend Lila is larger than life. The relationships between parent/child/spouse and friends are all thoughtfully examined and portrayed.I don't want to reveal any of the details of the plot, but I had to grab the Kleenex box by the end. Green also infuses Promises to Keep with chick lit elements as well. Steffi's romance or lack thereof is a great subplot. Also included at the beginning of most chapters are some of Steffi's recipes. (The spinach quiche with quinoa crust was absolutely delicious!)A contemporary novel about the ties that bind us - family, friendship and love - and what happens when those ties are threatened. Promises to Keep will make you take a second look at your own life - don't wait until 'someday'.It wasn't until I read the author's notes at the end that I realized how much of a personal note Green has injected into her latest novel - more Kleenex was needed.Fans of Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin would enjoy this book.
bearette24 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is the story of Steffi, a free-spirited vegan chef; Callie, her older sister; and Lila, their friend. At first the book felt like a warm bath, as Jane Green's stories typically do. Then it turned into a tearjerker, and a peripheral character became central. I didn't really like how the story changed, but I liked the characters and Green's cozy writing style enough to give the book 4 stars.
CSMcMahon on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Jane Green`s new book, Promises to Keep, should come with a huge warning: Have a box of Kleenex nearby when reading.I didn¿t pay much attention to the book description and shortly into the book it became clear that this book was going to be different from Green¿s previous books. Instead of the light, fluffy escapist read I was expecting, I got a book about a woman dealing with cancer diagnosis leaving her with less than a year to live.Callie has the perfect life. She¿s married to the perfect husband, has two adorable children and a career as a photographer. Her sister, Steffi, is a bit of a free spirit. She lives with a guy in a band that she doesn¿t particularly love and works by day as a vegan chef in a tiny neighborhood restaurant. Callie¿s best friend recently moved to Connecticut and recently found Mr. Right but he comes with some baggage, a horrid ex-wife and a wonderful son.Green spends the first part of the book building up how Callie is living the perfect life. You just know that something horrible is going to happen. So when she blacks out and is in a car accident and later finds out her cancer is back it comes as no surprise. The rest of the book is spent on how her friends and family rally around her to support her during her last days. It also focuses on the changes that they make in their life as a result of her battle. The message that life is too short and you need to spend time doing things that are important comes across. Make time and spend it with your children. Be with the right person. Set aside your differences.This book is clearly very personal to her as she dedicates it to her good friend who lost her battle to cancer. I loved the line Love is actually a verb. You need to show your love by actions and they don¿t need to be grandiose. Little things are important too.So while the book is completely predictable, it was a good read. Just remember to have the tissues near.
galleysmith on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Holy sobworthy Batman!Promises to Keep was not a light and fluffy read with loads of fun and flirty behavior. Don¿t get me wrong there was a fair share of the latter and there was no shortage of romance but really this was a book about family, love and loss.It starts out in that light and fun chicklit frame of mind. Filled with character and relationship building we learn early on that Callie is the heart and soul of her family and friends. She¿s vivacious and energetic ¿ a hard-working photographer, an amazing mother, a lovingly supportive wife and the best friend, daughter and sister anyone could hope for. She is most assuredly the glue that bound everyone together.Though I typically struggle with characters who are so flawless, so perfect in every single thing they do, I realized as the story progressed why she was built up to the levels she was. Her influence in the lives of those around her was great and with good reason. Her presence in the lives of the people around her made them all better people. It made them want to *be* better people. So in the end, even though Callie was practically without any fault at all it was bearable.I¿ll add that even though she was that level of awesome she did not come off as saccharine. That went a long way in making the character more believable. She was simply a good person who leads a charmed life. Though her life is enviable it is inspirational and is not the life of someone a person can resent.The plot is simple. The reader follows the women of the story (Callie, her sister Steffi, her best friend Lila) through a time of great turmoil in their lives. Each has some unique form of adversity to overcome ¿ horrible romantic relationships, fear of having children and recurring illness. It is through these varying and sometimes prolonged events that the characters bond and gain strength. They rely on and advocate for each other, attempting to assure that the best possible outcome is always achieved.I wouldn¿t say that this story is entirely without predictability. I felt like I knew where the story was going and what was going to happen almost the entire way through. But, I will add that I don¿t think the point of this story was to provide those ¿gotcha¿ moments. The point was about the journey and the subtle changes people make in their lives as a result of encountering and enduring a series of life altering events. In this wasy Green has written Promises to Keep so eloquently.You have to be in the mood for an emotional read, one that takes you on a bit of a roller-coaster ride. I¿d also advise that you have a box of tissues handy as there are parts that tug the heart strings in both an emotional and happy way. Despite Promises to Keep being a book that was filled, to a degree, with sadness it left this reader feeling hopeful and inspired.
JulieC0802 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I've read Jane Green for years and some of her books are better than others. Promises to Keep ranks up there as one of her best. Part of that comes from it being such a personal story and part of it comes from it being a pretty heavy subject. It's delightful but it's not light.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Jane Green's characters are growing up. Sure, some of them are still looking for love, but many of them are now older and settled and facing the curveballs that life throws us all. In this wonderful, affecting tale of women, families, and friendship, she tackles that most heartrending of all curveballs: terminal illness.Callie is a sought after photographer, happily married to the love of her life, and the mother of two young children. She is also a breast cancer survivor on the brink of her five years cancer-free. Her younger sister Steffi is becoming a celebrated vegan chef in NYC. She is a bit of a free spirit who has no desire to settle down and who has an instant attraction to the bad boys of the world, musicians, artists, etc. Lila, Callie's college roommate, has become an honorary sister to the Tollemache girls. She's very different from the radiantly happy Callie and the go-with-the-flow Steffi but she is finally in a relationship that fulfills her and allows her to be herself, even if her boyfriend is not a Jewish doctor but a Protestant Brit with a nasty ex-wife.Callie's husband Reece travels often for work but when he is home, he and Callie have an incredibly strong and loving marriage. They live a fairly typical suburban existence, enjoying their friends, supporting their kids, and going about the daily life of living. Steffi, meanwhile is starting to get restless with her rock musician boyfriend so she offers to dog sit for Mason while he and his family spend a year in London. She knows that her boyfriend loathes dogs so she also knows that she is ending their relationship with this choice. Luckily Mason has a country home sitting untenanted only a few towns from Callie's that Steffi can use. This affords her the opportunity to change her life entirely, quitting her job and finding out what she really wants out of life, which surprisingly appears to include a quiet country life. Lila is moving on and committing whole heartedly to Ed and their future although she must decide whether her objection to motherhood or his desire to have more children (he has a son with his ex) will win out.As all of their lives are moving forward, Callie starts to suffer from an intense headache that will not go away ultimately ending up in the hospital. When she is diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer, this time contracting the rare leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, her family and friends circle around her as she travels a road that only she can travel.Green has created likable, charming characters with whom the reader can identify. Even her minor characters like Walter and Honor, Callie and Steffi's incredibly mismatched parents, are well-rounded and realistic. And she has captured the devastation a terminal diagnosis has on everyone in this poignant and yet ultimately celebratory novel. As one life winds down, other lives must by definition continue forward despite the grief and uncertainty of the future and Green has illustrated this beautifully in the swirl of characters around Callie. There is some unecessarily heavy-handed foreshadowing of Callie's fate in the beginning of the book with reiterations of how happy and blessed she is in her life but overall, the whole of the gentle and loving narrative make this a minor flaw. The recipes following each chapter, are quite appealing even if sometimes a bit forced to fit with the narrative.A look at abiding love and the constancy of family, this novel will probably appeal most to fans of women's fiction. And those who read the author's note about her friend Heidi will appreciate what a lovely tribute this is to a dear friend's memory.
girlsgonereading on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Promises to Keep was clearly a labor of love for Jane Green. Using the life of a dear friend as motivation, Green wrote a love story about friendship and loss.Cancer has taken a lot from all of us, and Green does a tremendous job showing how cancer affects not just the victim but also everyone who loves him or her. Callie believed she was a survivor, but when cancer strikes her again everyone who loves her puts aside their differences and rallies to her side, as they should.It is this positive spirit though that started some problems for me with Promises. Living through my own cancer years with my husband, I understand that it forces people to come together. I also know that in many ways it tears us all apart. Promises would have been better for me if it had gone deeper. Instead I felt like it skimmed the surface and left a lot of emotion still on the table.Ironically it was the main character-Callie-that I found the most one dimensional. I understand that Green wrote Promises in memory of her own friend, and I also understand that loss clouds our memory. But should Callie always be so perfect. She never cared that her husband worked late. She was a tremendous sister. She was a giving and generous friend.Now I know that it is possible for people to be this way. I even have a few friends who I would categorize this way, but they also have faults. I wanted to see more of Callie¿s bad side. I wanted to see her get angry more. I wanted to know her more.At this point you might be asking, why did this novel get a four rating if she saw so much wrong with it?? Well, the answer is because Promises is a solid book despite these downsides. Every character is likeable, and you root for them along the way. The ¿true aspects¿ of Green¿s back story force you to see that Promises means more than meets the eye. And the readability of this novel is perfect for summer: easy and fluid.True, I wanted Promises to give me more ¿meat¿ to deal with, but Jane Green still gave me plenty to tackle. I enjoyed Promises to Keep, and I will definitely read more of Green¿s work in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Promises a heart warming, tender story of love, friendship, sacrifice, and acceptance. Hard to put down. Definitely a tearjerker.