Wednesday 18 January 2023

Guest Review: Promise Me by Jill Mansell

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...

Review: As always, I have been looking forward to reading Jill Mansell’s new book for this year. Her readers are assured a cast of interesting characters and a strong storyline. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the title or the bold and colourful cover of this book. The story is set in the beautiful English Cotswolds, the idyllic village with a river running through the middle illustrated helpfully by a map at the beginning of the book. I was drawn into the world of the characters right from page one and they kept me entertained and wondering what was going to happen next right to the end.

The main protagonist in the story is Lou, a carer who suddenly finds herself in need of both a home and a job at the same time. Visiting her friend, Sammy, in the little Cotswolds village of Foxwell, she encounters Edgar, an elderly man well known locally for his grumpy, unfriendly personality. He instantly decides that she is just the person he wants to employ as his live-in carer, a post in which she has no interest and keeps turning down until he makes her an offer she can’t refuse. Bit by bit Lou strives to change Edgar’s outlook on life, even bringing into his life Captain Oates, the little rescue dog that nobody else could tame. In the meantime, Lou tries to hide her feelings for Remy, Sammy’s brother, who she has loved since childhood, his proximity in the same village making this difficult. She thinks she may have found someone else to fall for, but she is unsure if she can trust him as much as someone she has known most of her life.

I have really enjoyed this book and would not hesitate to recommend it. There are so many strong characters, most of whom I loved, but some of whom were distinctly unlikeable. Lou was such a kind and thoughtful person, but strong enough to put up with the difficult old gentleman she is employed to look after. I liked Edgar too and enjoyed watching as Lou, aided by Captain Oates, chipped away at his frosty exterior. The contrast between kindly Lou and Remy and the old ‘friend’ who came into Edgar’s life is marked, like looking at two extremes of a spectrum. The village of Foxwell sounded a lovely place to live, except that, typically for a village, everybody knew what was going on in everybody else’s life. I liked that, as well as the central storyline, there are also several other side stories featuring one or more of the characters, adding to the overall enjoyment of the book.

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