The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

  • the-mothers-promiseTitle:  The Mother’s Promise
  • Author:  Sally Hepworth
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  All their lives, Alice Stanhope and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two, living quietly in northern California. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and needs to fight for her life. 

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family.

Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, and the new ways in which families are forged.  (publisher)

My take:  After reading the blurb for The Mother’s Promise I had no doubt it would be an emotional read. And it was. But don’t let that stop you from reading this novel. Yes, it’s about people facing devastatingly difficult circumstances but the characters were relatable on one level or another. I found myself asking What would I do? on more than one occasion.

My heart went out to fifteen year old Zoe who dealt with social anxiety disorder. How would she handle her mother’s illness and the possibility of life after her mother was gone? I couldn’t even imagine Alice’s (Zoe’s mother) dilemma of who would see to Zoe’s care in the future. I thought Zoe’s school experiences rang true in how she was treated by schoolmates and teachers. Zoe’s friend Harry was a godsend in more ways than one – especially in making her see she wasn’t alone in how she felt.

Two professionals involved in Alice and Zoe’s case will become very important to them. Each is dealing with personal heartache but go above and beyond when it comes to supporting Alice and Zoe. The Mother’s Promise is a heartfelt novel that I can recommend to fans of Sally Hepworth and contemporary fiction.


About the author:

Sally Hepworth is a former event planner and human resources professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK, and Canada, and now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and three young children. She is currently working on her next novel.

Visit Sally’s Website at: http://www.sallyhepworthauthor.com

Guest Post by Ethel Rohan

Welcome to Ethel Rohan, author of THE WEIGHT OF HIM. I asked Ethel to tell us about the inspiration for her first novel. Thank you, Ethel, for sharing with us!

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I’ve always claimed my stories are inspired by character. First, the who of the story comes to me—a person, or sometimes even an animal or object. Then location, where the story takes place. Next, I set about filling in other essential details like what happens, and when, and how, and most importantly why. Recently, though, I’ve realized it’s more precise to say that my stories are sparked by startling moments.

Like the time a young man who had his leg amputated said the phantom pain made the limb “seem more there than it ever was.” From that seed, I went on to write the title story of my first book, Cut Through the Bone. Surgery that uncovered a dog’s hair deep inside the meat of my cousin’s ankle ignited another story, as did a neighbor’s vignette about how beekeeping brought him and his teenage son closer together.

ethel-rohan-author-photo_credit-to-justin-yeeFor my first novel, The Weight of Him, the startling moment was a snatch of conversation I overheard in a pub in Ireland—the grief might just kill her before the weight does. I couldn’t get those words out of my mind. What if, I wondered, grief or weight don’t kill this stranger, but instead drive her to do something remarkable. As with my other stories, once I fix on the startling spark the main character appears almost instantly. Immediately, I had a vivid picture in my mind of an anguished Irish man: Big Billy Brennan.

Why do certain moments startle me into storytelling, and countless others don’t? I suppose the moments that inspire me are those that most appeal to my imagination, my hopes and dreams, my fear and anger. I think that’s true of all artists: We create from that which pulls at us. The Weight of Him was very much inspired by, and centers on, the things that lift me and the things that drag me down.


About the author:

Ethel Rohan is the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, World Literature Today, GUERNICA Magazine, Tin House Online,The Rumpus, and many more. Born and raised in Ireland, she lives in San Francisco.


St. Martin’s Press 2/14/2017
Pre-Order Now at AmazonIndiebound & Barnes & NobleThank you!
Website: www.ethelrohan.com

Twitter: @ethelrohan


Praise for THE WEIGHT OF HIM:

“Rohan [is] one of those rare, courageous writers who dare to take on the ‘ordinary’ and show just how extraordinary it really is.” —John Banville, Man Booker prize-winning author of The Sea

“Poignant and inspiring…When you’re finished, you’ll want to go for a long, grateful walk.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

“Involving, terrifying and ultimately quite beautiful.” —Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me


  • the-weight-of-himTitle:  The Weight of Him
  • Author:  Ethel Rohan
  • Pages:  336
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  At four hundred pounds, Billy Brennan can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael takes his own life.

Billy determines to make a difference in Michael’s memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention—his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy’s dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on.

Despite his crushing detractors, Billy gains welcome allies: his community-at-large; a co-worker who lost his father to suicide; a filmmaker with his own dubious agenda; and a secret, miniature kingdom that Billy populates with the sub-quality dolls and soldiers he rescues from disposal at the local toy factory where he works. But it is only if Billy can confront the truth of his pain, suffering, and the brokenness around him, that he and others will be able to realize the full rescue and change they need.

Set in rural, contemporary Ireland, Ethel Rohan’s The Weight of Him is an unforgettable, big-hearted novel about loss and reliance that moves from tragedy to recrimination to what can be achieved when we take the stand of our lives.  (publisher)

My take:  Billy Brennan is everyman. He may not feel that way though. For most of his life he’s hidden behind his weight hoping to avoid notice, to blend in. People just saw Big Billy – they didn’t look past his bulk. He grew up knowing he was a disappointment to the people who should have been most proud of him. He found acceptance and solace in food. Sure he found reasons to lose weight in the past but it always came back. After the suicide of his first-born son Billy needs to find a reason to go on. And he needs to find the reason his son took his own life.

I was impressed with how Ethel Rohan portrayed the grieving family. Each one moved through phases at their own pace and experienced guilt, blame, anger and utter sadness. Billy was easy to cheer on as his journey gathered steam. At the same time, his family’s reactions were completely understandable. They had no idea how Billy’s changes would impact their lives. I just wanted to hug them all and let them know things would eventually get better. The Weight of Him is a novel that ultimately left me feeling hopeful. It’s an emotional read and one I can recommend.


Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

  • victoriaTitle:  Victoria
  • Author:  Daisy Goodwin
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  November 2016 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.  (publisher)

My take:  Victoria was eighteen years old when she became Queen. She’d lived a very sheltered life up to that point and had to make many changes in short order. Starting with a crash course in a Queen’s duties, political relationships, and learning who could be trusted when it came to the people closest to her, she proved herself up to the task.

One of the most important people in Victoria’s life was her prime minister, Lord Melbourne. She grew to trust him which led her to feel an emotional bond that troubled some people. He was, after all, old enough to be her father. Despite that, it was difficult not to like Lord M. Another important person was Victoria’s cousin Albert. I loved how Goodwin developed his character. It was more complex than I expected and my feelings changed as I learned more about him.

Of course, if you’ve previously read about Victoria you know what happens. I enjoyed Goodwin’s version and recommend it to fans of historical fiction. I look forward to watching the television production in January (US).

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Next by Stephanie Gangi

  • the-nextTitle:  The Next: A Novel
  • Author:  Stephanie Gangi
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  October 2016 – St. Martin’s Press

Description: Is there a right way to die? If so, Joanna DeAngelis has it all wrong. She’s consumed by betrayal, spending her numbered days cyberstalking Ned McGowan, much younger ex, and watching him thrive in the spotlight with someone new, while she wastes away. She’s every woman scorned, fantasizing about revenge … except she’s out of time.

Joanna falls from her life, from the love of daughters and devoted dog, into an otherworldly landscape, a bleak infinity she can’t escape until she rises up and returns and sets it right – makes Ned pay – so she can truly move on.

From the other side into right this minute, Jo embarks on a sexy, spiritual odyssey. As she travels beyond memory, beyond desire, she is transformed into a fierce female force of life, determined to know how to die, happily ever after.  (publisher)


Praise for THE NEXT:

Cathleen Schine called it “an elegantly written, thoughtfully sharp and surprisingly touching whirlwind of a book.”

Erica Jong said, “I was instantly hooked by Gangi’s vivid writing, her psychological acumen, and her sharp observation of love and life. She is a fascinating writer who understands love, sex, men, and women.”


stephanie-gangi-author-photo_credit-to-tramaine-georgeAbout the author:

STEPHANIE GANGI is a NYC novelist, poet, and by day, a corporate communications strategist. She is working on her second novel, and a chapbook of poems, More Than Four.

 

 

 


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Giveaway ends on October 27, 2016

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Spice Box Letters by Eve Makis

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About the Book:

Katerina longs to know why her late grandmother, Miriam, refused to talk about the past, especially when she inherits a journal and handwritten letters stashed in a wooden spice box, cryptic treasures written in Armenian, Miriam’s mother tongue. On vacation in Cyprus, Katerina finds the key to unlocking her grandmother’s secrets and discovers a family legacy of exile and loss. Aged seven, Miriam was expelled from her home in Eastern Turkey and witnessed the death of her beloved brother Gabriel, or so she believed.

Katerina sets out on a fact-finding mission across the island and solves a mystery that changes her life and lays the ghosts of her grandmother’s turbulent past to rest. My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Sarah’s Key in this gripping family saga, set during the tragic start of the Armenian genocide in 1915 Turkey, spanning the ups and downs of a family separated by the devastating aftermath in 1985 Greece.


About the Author:

EVE MAKIS studied at Leicester University and worked as a journalist and radio presenter in the UK and Cyprus before becoming a novelist. Eve is a part time tutor in creative writing at Nottingham University. She is married with two children and lives in the UK and Cyprus.


Praise for The Spice Box Letters:

“Reading The Spice Box Letters is like sitting down to a delicious Armenian dinner hosted by an ebullient family with a riveting and sorrowful tale to tell. Makis’ story goes to some dark places, but her warmth and light touch keeps this engaging novel aloft.  You will come away impressed by the resilience of her wonderful characters—and craving Armenian delicacies. (I devoured a chunk of halva while reading this book.) I deeply enjoyed this novel.” —Sharon Guskin, author of The Forgetting Time

 

“With humor, heartbreak and lyrical prose, Eve Makis has woven a moving tale of resilience in the face of tragedy.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Spice Box Letters.”  —Maggie Leffler, author of The Secrets of Flight

 

The Spice Box Letters is a beautifully evocative novel that moves from past to present and affirms the enduring love of family and explores the tragic, unsettling wake of the Armenian genocide. Eve Makis has written a novel that should be read, contemplated, and read again.” —Peter Golden, author of Wherever There Is Light

 

“Heartwarming, funny, tragic, and uplifting…the story has a feel good factor to equal My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” —Narinder Dhami, author of Bend It Like Beckham

 

“Fans of Victoria Hislop’s prose or Khaled Hosseini’s storytelling will love The Spice Box Letters, for Eve Makis’s latest novel is remarkable. It deserves to be an international bestseller and I have no doubt it will pick up an award or three. Beautifully written with inventive structure, compelling characters, historical horrors, and natural humor, it’s a rich feast.”— Notts Lit (UK)

 

“I would advise buying a packet of tissues before you start reading this extraordinary novel which depicts the human cost of war. The novel is peppered with vividly evoked scenes of the physical, emotional, and mental trauma that many Armenian families went through during the massacre of their people in WWI.” —Pamreader

 

“Makis has done her research, and the historical details of 100 years ago ring true, as do finely drawn characters like Katerina’s great-uncle, the cantankerous, memorable Gabriel. Add some mouth-watering descriptions of food and you have a warm, affecting tale to savor.”— LeftLion Magazine (UK) 


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Giveaway ends September 22, 2016