The Promise by Lesley Pearse

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The Promise by Lesley Pearse

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Susmita Chatto
Reviewed by Susmita Chatto
Summary: The story of a woman whose path in life is dramatically altered by war, and by her past coming back to haunt her.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: January 2012
Publisher: Michael Joseph
ISBN: 978-0718157043

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Belle has a lovely London life, a good career and a happy marriage. But she has a murky past, and although it’s shaped her kind heart and character, it isn’t something she wants to come face to face with again. But some people are not able to forget the past, for reasons good and bad, and against the dramatic backdrop of the Great War, Belle is about to come face to face with all sorts of things she thought she had forgotten.

Pearse plunges right into her 20th novel, getting to the key points rapidly. Her clarity of style is evident from the start; she doesn’t waste words and writes so fluidly that you’ll find yourself ploughing through the pages.

Her Dulwich setting brings the London of the novel to life very rapidly; it’s easy to picture Belle and to place her within the context of her life and her marriage. I hadn’t read the previous novel but Belle came together with remarkable rapidity in my mind, with an incident at the start that demonstrates her kind-heartedness immediately.

The gloom of impending war can be felt and the early notion that it would all be over by Christmas is all the more poignant as the horrors of war unravel. Pearse looks in detail at the effect of wartime propaganda on the public psyche and weaves in the historical background with ease. Belle’s nearest and dearest are carefully drawn and the complex relationships between them are made easy to understand by clear and skilful storytelling.

Doing justice to a period which involves a great deal of change, joy and heartbreak in equal measure is no mean feat. Pearse provides a cracking pace which mirrors the rapidity of change in Belle’s life as this new and complicated chapter of her life unfolds. All the characters in this novel are fully rounded and it’s easy to relate to them and even to like them when they are doing unlikeable things.

All in all, a great read with a wonderful central character.

If this book appeals then you might enjoy Belle, also by Lesley Pearse.

Lesley Pearse's Novels in Chronological Order

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