Why did I pick this book as my Book of the Month?
Well that is really easy for me to answer .. Belle was my favourite book of 2011 and I jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy of sequel The Promise when Lesley asked if I’d like to. I adore the way in which Lesley can capture the attention of her readers right from page 1 of her books and keep you turning the pages as you get sucked into the story!
Belle Reilly finally has the life she’s dreamed of thanks to a devoted husband in Jimmy and the hat shop she’s wanted to own since she was a child. But as the storm clouds of World War One begin to gather, Belle’s already turbulent life is to change in ways she never imagined possible.
When Jimmy enlists in the army and leaves for the battlefields of Ypres, her world is shattered and she realises she can no longer stand by and watch, she must volunteer to help the wounded. But her work as a Red Cross ambulance driver in France throws her into the path of Etienne, the enigmatic man who played a significant role in her childhood, and Belle finds herself torn agonizingly between forbidden passion and loyalty to a good man.
But the past returns to haunt her present in other – more unpleasant – ways and Belle’s character is put to the test like never before. Can she survive this most brutal of wars with her spirit intact? And will destiny finally lead her to lasting happiness even while war rages all around?
This book picks straight up where Belle ended. All the characters we loved are still there and we read more of how life for Belle has flourished and how happy she is. It wouldn’t be a Lesley Pearse if everything stayed rosy and simple!
Her past life comes back and stirs up all sorts of memories and new problems for Belle and those around her. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Relationships are stretched to the limit and war really changes things that she used to hold so dear.
Packed full of emotion, fabulous descriptive and detailed writing particularly around the war. My heart went out as I read about what the men on the front line went through, leaving nothing to your imagination as you can almost hear the bombs and smell the fear of the soldiers. Very strong characters, not just in Belle but we are also introduced to some new people and some gorgeous friendships develop. Just when you think nothing can get any worse, there is something new to face.
I’m sure writing a sequel is never an easy decision, but Lesley certainly will not disappoint you with this book. If like me the ending of Belle left you wanting more, The Promise certainly does deliver, bringing together a new ending and finally closing Belle’s story however bumpy her journey is getting there. This book had me gripped, crying in places and a falling in love with a certain someone all over again!!
Another amazing read and I am so delighted to feature it as my first Book of the Month for 2012.
I asked Lesley the following:-
Q) The Promise is a sequel to the very successful Belle – What made you write a sequel?
Because I became very fond of Belle. I just couldn’t bear to leave her. I’ve never felt so strongly about one of my heroines before, and I felt my readers would be clamouring to know what came next and whether there was a Happy Ever After.
All kinds of ways, a chance remark from someone, a house I stumbled upon, something in the newspapers. It’s like finding a seed and planting it. It stays there in my mind until something makes it germinate, then it grows, and grows. Yet it often grows in a very different direction to the initial idea.
Yes, at least for the historical books, more contemporary ones take less. Fortunately history and particularly war fascinates me. It isn’t a chore,sometimes the seeds of a new book come from this.
Q) What can we expect from your next book and when will it be available?
The one I’m writing now is a mystery set in the 90’s. It begins with my heroine Eva finding her mother dead in the bath, and her subsequent attempts at unravelling her mother’s past to make sense of her death.
I loved The Help, by Kathryn Stockett . At present I’m reading Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin which is very intriguing.