disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned for the purpose of review
This month sees the publication of the latest novel from Jill Mansell titled Promise Me. I was lucky to have the opportunity to read this lovely book over the Christmas holidays and it’s one I thoroughly enjoyed.
In Promise Me we are introduced to the Cotswold village of Foxwell, a small community where nothing is a secret for very long. The central character, Lou is visiting Foxwell to stay with her old friend Sammy and to hear him sing in the local pub. She has a chance encounter in the local convenience store with Edgar Allsop whilst buying some wine and little does she know that that moment will change her life.
Edgar is an anti-social, grumpy old man who’s lived in the village all his life. When he stumbles and falls in the store car park, Lou is there and instinctively rushes to his aid. She gets little thanks for her trouble and he insists that she drives him home in his car. His home turns out to be Walton House, the largest house in the village, which is in need of some attention, as is Edgar himself, although he’d never admit it.
Lou’s life is upended when she returns to her home in the Midlands to find that Heather, the lady she cares for is going into a care home, so she will lose both her job and home. She’s used to starting again, having previously been in a disastrous marriage to a husband who then dies suddenly.
Lou returns to Foxwell and it appears that Edgar has taken a shine to her, in his own way. Lou tries to help him find him a home help but before she knows it, he offers her a deal of a lifetime. Become his live-in housekeeper and he’ll leave her his house when he dies. Promise Me he says, that you’ll lay flowers on my grave regularly. Lou decides to take on the role, not really for the money, she wants to help Edgar find some joy in life and for living again, and make him see that he could be a part of a caring community if he would just open his eyes and arms to the villagers. With her help he starts to mellow a little and she sees the man he could be when Edgar adopts a rather cantankerous dog who he names Captain Oates. The dog seems to understand Edgar perfectly and it’s soon clear that they need each other.
Lou is rather taken with Sammy’s brother Remy, but she’s cautious, she got so badly burnt the last time she fell for a charmer. But could she be about to make another mistake? Lou decides to learn more about Edgar and his past, and when he mentions his lost love Della, Lou decides to track her down. Della is a money-grabbing, washed-up actress with two children who have become accustomed to the finer things in life.
Everything changes for Lou once more, when Della and her family move into Walton House and she falls under the son, Tom’s spell. You want to shout at her to leave him well alone!
There are a number of twists and turns in the storyline of Promise Me, and you do become heavily invested in the central characters. It’s a really lovely book and one I couldn’t put down. I won’t ruin the story for you but would suggest you read it for yourself to see what happens to Lou in the end.