Title: The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: A
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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—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.
The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth is a bittersweet novel about a single mother who discovers she has cancer. Alice Stanhope is a devoted mom whose worry over her teenage daughter Zoe initially eclipses her concern about her health but she is soon forced to face the implications of her diagnosis.
At the age of forty, Alice has had a few health scares, so she is at first unconcerned about her doctor’s recommendation for surgery. Reality quickly sets in and despite her claim she does not need any help, nurse Kate Littleton and hospital social worker Sonja step in to lend assistance. Zoe’s severe social anxiety is difficult to manage when things are normal, so Alice is less than forthcoming with her daughter (and herself) about her diagnosis. Although things are tense with her husband, David, Kate is more than happy to help out with Zoe but Alice is having a difficult time accepting Kate’s support for her daughter. Sonja is also trying her best to be there for both Alice and Zoe but she is struggling to cope with her psychologist husband’s increasingly rough treatment of her. Alice’s alcoholic brother Paul is surprisingly helpful but maintaining his sobriety is an impossible endeavor. In the aftermath of her surgery, Alice remains positive about her prognosis but is she deluding herself? And if she is, what will happen to Zoe?
Alice and Zoe have lived a very insular life from the time Zoe was about two years old. Alice founded a business that enabled her to keep her daughter out of daycare and until kindergarten, Zoe was a happy, well-adjusted little girl. Zoe’s debilitating social anxiety and panic attacks began when she entered school and despite treatment, she has found little success in finding ways to cope with her disorder. Since Zoe only has one close friend, Alice and Zoe spend the most of their time together and Alice is fiercely protective of her daughter.
Kate is happily married with two teenage stepchildren whom she adores. She loves her job and her affection for the patients in her care is genuine. When Zoe needs a place to stay while Alice is undergoing surgery and chemo, Kate is quick to welcome her into their home. Although she has a full and happy life, Kate and David are at an impasse in their marriage and with each of them on opposite sides of an issue, the bond between them is becoming quite fragile.
Sonja is shocked by the changes in her husband George and she is not ready to admit his rough treatment of her might be crossing the line into abuse. After all, a social worker would be the first person to recognize the signs of domestic violence, wouldn’t she? For the first time in her career, Sonja is beginning to understand why the women she has tried to help continue to stay with their boyfriends and husbands. Although Sonja remains uncertain about the future of their relationship, she is taking steps to protect herself when circumstances force her to take a stand.
The Mother’s Promise is a captivating novel that is heartwarming and deeply affecting. Sally Hepworth broaches difficult topics such as social anxiety, cancer, alcoholism, abuse, Crohns Disease and more with a great deal sensitivity. This deft handling provides readers with insightful and educational information about topics that are rarely discussed. The various situations each of the women are facing intertwine into a meaningful storyline that is heartfelt and emotional. An incredibly moving novel that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.