Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Promise by Michelle Vernal. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour.
“Two women from different generations brought together by another’s wrongdoing.
When British backpacker, Isabel Stark happens across a car accident on a lonely stretch of road in the South Island of New Zealand her life changes forever. The sole passenger, Ginny Havelock asks her to make a promise before she passes away—to find Constance and to say she’s sorry.
Isabel’s a lost soul who’s been drifting through life unsure of where she fits, and the promise she made in New Zealand haunts her upon her return to the United Kingdom. Her only clue as to finding Constance lies within a conversation held at Ginny’s funeral. It takes her to the Isle of Wight.
In the 1940’s sixteen-year-old Constance’s life on her island is sheltered until the death of her brother; Ted brings the reality of war crashing down around her. He leaves behind his pregnant young widow Ginny. When Constance meets a handsome Canadian Airforce man, she’s eager to escape her grief and be swept up by first love. It’s a love which has ramifications she could never envisage.
When Isabel and Constance’s paths finally cross will Ginny’s last words be enough for Constance to make peace with her past? And in fulfilling her promise will Isabel find a place she can call home?”
Can I just say to begin with how much I love the cover of this book? I can’t tell you why, particularly – maybe it is the water or the colour of the dress – but I find it really appealing for some reason. Maybe because it is so simple? Anyway.
This is my first book by Michelle Vernal and I have to admit that it is one that slipped under the radar a bit. I signed up for the tour and then promptly forgot all about it until my date was approaching and I finally got round to reading it without remembering much about the blurb I had read quite cold so when I did get into it, it was a lovely surprise, a bit like finding a ten pound note you had forgotten about in the back pocket of a pair of jeans you are just about to wash.
I wasn’t 100% sure about this book through the first few chapters. This moved extremely fast from Isabel being in New Zealand to her coming back to the UK and ending up on the Isle of Wight and the clues to Constance’s whereabouts seemed to land in her lap slightly too conveniently. However, I was captivated by the character of Isabel so I persevered and, as soon as Isabel and Constance met, I was completely engaged in the story and the characters and could not read the book fast enough, wanting to find out what happened and how it all ended for them. Once you get beyond the first few chapters, the book is so good that you forget the slightly convenient opening.
I don’t often pick up books about World War II because I find the whole subject very upsetting so I’m not sure why I volunteered to read this particular one but I am very glad I did. This book is a beautiful, heart-breaking but ultimately uplifting story that really moved me. It is a book that will stay with me for a long time and that I am sure I will come back to again.
The author has peopled this book with some great characters, but the main two are my favourites. Isabel, sensitive, introverted, betrayed and slightly lost who is looking for her place in the world and Constance, slightly cantankerous but deeply kind who is nursing a secret heartache from years before. Two complete strangers who meet by an odd twist of fate but turn out to be exactly what the other needs in their life at this exact moment in time. Their relationship is really beautifully developed throughout the book and carries the story in a way that compels you to keep reading, it is very skilfully done.
The dual timeline is handled well and I was drawn in to the world of wartime on the Isle of Wight, despite my general aversion to books on this topic. Michelle manages to bring it to life completely and I was totally sucked in, horrified by the events but warmed by the growing relationship between Constance and Henry at the same time. To imagine going through those things and having to live with the consequences for the rest of your life is heart-breaking. The author handles everything with a very light but sympathetic touch which I found particularly appealing.
There are some gorgeous scenes in this book – the shopping trip was my favourite – and she does a great job of bringing to life the Isle of Wight which is not a place I am familiar with at all but would now love to visit. Ultimately, the ending left me happy and satisfied despite everything that had gone before. This book is a real gem and I will definitely look for more from this author in the future. It will pay off in spades anyone who invests their time in reading it.
The Promise is out now and you can purchase a copy here.
Please do check out the rest of the reviews on the tour as set out below:
About the Author
Michelle Vernal is a Harper Collins author who loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband, their two boys and a needy three-legged black cat in Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She is a freelance writer for a Canterbury lifestyle magazine who is currently working on her seventh novel. Michelle’s a firm believer in happy endings, and all of her stories are written with humour and warmth.
Connect with Michelle:
Facebook: Michelle Vernal Novelist
Goodreads: Michelle Vernal