Book Club: The Mother’s Promise

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Author: Sally Hepworth
ISBN: 978-1-925479-95-9
RRP: $29.99

The Mother’s Promise is a heartbreaking tale that looks at what happens when you’re alone, and all the different ways that you can be alone. It’s a touching tale of love in all its forms, of facing fears and growth through adversity.

Alice and Zoe are a team of two with no family support and they’re fine with that; they’ve never needed anyone else. It isn’t until Alice gets sick and she’s advised to plan for all eventualities that it strikes her how alone they really are.  I am surrounded by family, and friends who are the family I chose, yet still I haven’t been able to put a plan in place for every eventuality. As a parent you want to think you will always be there for your children, you will never need alternate guardians but it’s always a good idea to have a plan in place just in case. What happens when you aren’t surrounded by family and friends? How do you plan for an eventuality you can’t face when there aren’t any suitable guardians in your life?

To make the situation more difficult Zoe isn’t without her own troubles, which makes it imperative to find the right person for the hopefully hypothetical job. Alice is torn between determination that this isn’t going to be necessary, a desire to protect her child and the need to get it right.

The Mother’s Promise is Alice and Zoe’s story but we meet new people along the way that become integral to the story, and we learn their stories alongside Alice and Zoe’s.

In alternating chapters we delve into the lives of Kate and Sonja as well as Alice and Zoe. Kate is one of the nurses treating Alice and Sonja is the social worker assigned to her case. The women get off on the wrong foot but sometimes you find allies in the unlikeliest of corners.

Hepworth writes with heart and with humour, with compassion and with insight. Her story delves into the lives of very different women and sees them face their fears and learn to embrace futures they hadn’t dared consider.

Loneliness and being alone can be very different things. Alice was never lonely, she had everything she needed between Zoe and her business but when it came to thinking about guardianship arrangements she realised just how alone she was. How do you make guardianship arrangements when you have no family or friendship circle support, how do you navigate treatment and appointments without support?

Hepworth explores the aloneness of her characters in different situations, and none of them really felt lonely until we started delving deep into their lives. Characters who were happily married, successful and surrounded by people yet still ultimately alone. Hepworth brings them into a situation where they connect with other people and it helps to facilitate a change and forge bonds that are not easily broken.

The Mother’s Promise was a difficult book to read for me as a mother, just the idea of having to face leaving my children was enough to break my heart. I know that if something happened to me I am surrounded by loving people who would take care of my children but to think what would happen if that wasn’t the case. To put myself in Alice’s shoes and think about leaving my children with no-one I could trust to protect them the way I would, to consider the thought of them ending up in the foster system when they have troubles of their own. This was certainly a book that made me think, about how lucky I am as well as reminding me of the importance of having plans in place.

Hepworth’s writing is insightful and empathetic with colourful and diverse characters that you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with… for the most part. The story is beautifully written and the characters are vividly drawn. The love within the pages is palpable and the blossoming it brings about in Zoe is inspiring to watch.

The Mother’s Promise is well worth the read for everyone and I would recommend it wholeheartedly.

You can follow Sally Hepworth on Facebook, her Website and Twitter.

The Mother’s Promise is book #6 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

The Mother’s Promise is published by Pan Macmillan and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Mother’s Promise so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: The Mother’s Promise

  1. Alice Stanhope is 40 years-old when she is diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer.
    She is the sole carer of her 15 year-old daughter Zoe, and has never needed anyone else up until this point in her life.
    But her grim diagnosis gets Alice thinking that that may have to change, and soon.
    Thankfully, her cancer-care coordinator, Kate Littleton, and her social worker Sonja, offer the help and support she needs, and extend that kindness to Zoe, who suffers with social anxiety.
    Kate steps in and offers to take Zoe in whilst Alice recovers from surgery.
    And whilst Alice initially has her hesitations, she eventually learns to accept her fate and allows Kate and Sonja to make her dark journey a little brighter.
    The love that Zoe and Alice share is so special, and I think that the author did a great job of capturing their relationship perfectly. The reader gets a real sense of their closeness.
    I really felt for Zoe as she had so much to deal with – a debilitating mental illness, a sick mother, and the uncertainty of her future.
    Both Kate and Sonja also have their own personal battles, although I felt that the story could’ve done without Sonja’s struggle.
    Many of us take for granted the support and love we have from family and friends, and this book gets you thinking about those that don’t have that option, as well as leaving the reader asking what they’d would do in a similar situation.
    Whilst the story is rather sad, there are elements of humour throughout, as well as hope. It is a thought-provoking novel that is told with a lot of emotion. Thank you to Beauty And Lace and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read and review A Mother’s Promise

  2. This is a story of a single mother, Alice, and her 15 year old daughter, Zoe. Zoe suffers from anxiety disorder and Alice has spent her life helping Zoe cope. Alice is diagnosed with ovarian cancer requiring surgery and ongoing treatment, with not a good prognosis at the end. She has the heartache of trying to cope (or ignore) her illness, and wondering what will happen to Zoe when she is not around. Two strangers, Kate her oncology nurse and Sonja, her social worker, become very involved. The book covers all the emotions and situations very well, and I became very involved in the story. I could not put the book down until I finished. An excellent read

  3. I’m still deciding how I feel about The Mother’s Promise and I’m fairly sure that’s my fault. Having read The Things We Keep, also by Sally Hepworth, I expected this book to be wonderful and I was slightly disappointed. I couldn’t get past the feeling that with so many health issues treated or touched on it had a slightly contrived feel. Yes, it was touching and some of it beautiful. I really loved the ending and the way Zoe developed and matured. Some part of me couldn’t quite allow the number of complex issues in the book to be in the same book – a terminally ill mother with a very dependant daughter living without support from outsiders, leading an incredibly insular existence would have consequences that were far reaching. Alice is diagnosed with serious cervical cancer and she is a single mother with a daughter suffering social anxiety disorder and they have no obvious support from anyone. Enter Kate, a beautiful soul, a nurse and Sonja, a down to earth social worker. The way these people become part of Alice’s network is believable but I felt that, although the health and medical issues were handled well the author was possibly trying too hard in fitting so many issues into the one book. Cancer, social anxiety disorder, infertility, abuse and Crohn’s disease along with all the ramifications, were possibly too many, at least for me.

    Having said that, I’m pleased I’ve read the book which gives much food for thought and an overlying appreciation of Life and the love of family. I think a sequel, following Zoe as an adult but featuring Kate and Sonja would be interesting reading. Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read The Mother’s Promise which I will re read when I have less happening around me, which may have coloured my reading.

  4. I started reading this book feeling a bit down at the time but as I turned the pages, the characters of Alice and her daughter Zoe captured my attention. I could see that this was going to be a journey for the two of them but what would encounter me along the way, I had no idea, till reading more.

    There is the part in the book that made me laugh when Alice remembered her dad. He was quite the comedian like my own dad which bought back good memories for me.

    We know that Alice has cancer and we know that the story is going to be sad throughout the pages but there is always that hope of something good coming out at the end.

    The relationship of Alice and her 15 year old daughter is special and you can see that in the pages as you read. Zoe suffers from a disorder and her mum is the only one that can help her through situations that are thrown at her.

    Two characters come into Alice’s life Kate and Sonja. They both have their own stories to relate. I could understand Kate’s problems being written into the storyline but I did get lost as to Sonja’s way in the story. I felt like it was presented but didn’t seem to go anywhere. In saying that though, it is further on that I learnt more about Sonja and could understand how it all came into the storyline.

    I found the storyline of ovarian cancer upsetting as I have lost friends to this disease but I felt that Sally Hepworth mentioned the medical symptoms really well. It makes people take notice when reading.

    Apart from the sadness from reading this book, I did enjoy the storyline and all the important charaters to follow. I could not put the book down. I’ve not read any of Sally’s other books either.
    When you have finished reading this book, you will need tissues and I found myself just holding the book to my heart when finished. It is so beautifully written.

    I actually envied the relationship that Alice had with her daughter.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace and Pan Macmillan for giving me this book to read. It has left a huge impact on my life and heart.

  5. Thankyou to Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan for giving me the opportunity to read The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth.

    I enjoyed the book and couldn’t put it down, wanting to find out what happened to Alice and Zoe.
    The blurb tells you that Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a team- they have never needed anyone – until Alice gets sick. Alice reaches out to two strangers. Kate her oncology nurse and Sonja her social worker.
    So the word oncology has already told you that Alice is going to be battling cancer.
    Zoe her 15 year old daughter suffers from social anxiety disorder and has panic attacks, and now has a sick Mum.
    Kate is dealing with infertility and the disappointment with her life not going the way she planned.
    Sonja has serious marriage problems that initially she is in denial of.
    Alice’s brother is an alcoholic and she does not expect support from him

    Alice has to come to terms with appointing a guardian for Zoe, in case the unthinkable should happen.

    The hero for me is Zoe as she tries to over come her problem, attend school, have a friend, do stuff normal teenagers do, and have her own relationship with a boyfriend.

    It is a book about life throwing you challenges , relationships, connections to people you may not normally have a friendships with . The people who appear in your life when you need them. Not only do they help Alice, Alice helps them too.

    It is told with empathy and humour and is a tremendously sad book. A good read.

  6. Wow! What a beautifully emotional story about a mother and daughters love for each other. It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same. I found all the characters in The Mothers Promise were both believable and likeable (except mayby George on the likeable front!) As a mother it left me with so many mixed emotions and so thankful that I have a loving support system so I would not be in Alice’s shoes.
    The book is centred around four women who are each struggling with their own demons. Alice, who is battling cancer and the thought of leaving her daughter with no one. Zoe, Alice’s daughter who is battling a social anxiety disorder. Kate, Alice’s nurse who is battling infertility and Sonja, Alice’s social worker who is battling an abusive husband. The way their stories are interwoven is seemless and truly makes the book a pleasure to read.
    This is my first book by Sally Hepworth and certainly wont be my last! I found her writing engaging and comfortable, it really was a hard book for me to put down! Thank you Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read this book and find a new author to love!

  7. The Mother’s Promise is an emotional book about the bond between mother and daughter, the story introduces us to Alice a single mother and Zoe her 15 year old daughter who suffers from social anxiety. The two of them have a very strong bond; it is just the two of them without any friends or family, which has always worked until now. Alice’s and Zoe’s world is shattered and Alice has to face a mother’s worst fear, leaving your child in this world alone.

    As the story develops we are introduced to Kate a nurse at the hospital where Alice is receiving treatment and Sonja a social worker. Kate is a loving and compassionate person, her own personal struggles are intertwined through the novel as she signifies a ray of light in Zoe’s life. Sonja appears harsh and gritty at first but it is relieved she is very fragile and broken. Hemsworth’s writing is emotional, compassionate and enjoyable to read, the book flows between characters, however I didn’t like reading about Sonja, I found her harder to connect with and the story disjointed. Zoe was the hero of this book as she combats adversity, she displays strength beyond her years. The Mothers Promise is a fantastic emotional read, highly recommended.

  8. The Mother’s Promise
    This is a book I will never forget!! It is such a powerful and emotional read that reveal a full spectrum of emotions.
    This is the story of a single mother dealing with illness and her troubled teenager who is dealing with her own anxieties
    and two women who come into their lives at a critical time.
    Alice and Zoe have been a family of two all their lives. Zoe has always struggled with social anxiety and Alice has been
    her constant protector until Alice gets sick.
    Desperate to find stability for Zoe and with no family to speak of, Alice reaches out to two women, who are
    practically strangers, Kate her oncology nurse and Sonja, a social worker. This is where a chain of events is set in
    motion and all four of them must confront their fears and secrets.
    This is just an unforgettable novel that for me was difficult to put down.
    There are moments of despair as well as moments of hope and even a little humour in this novel that reveal
    courage and love in the face of sorrow.
    Thanks so much to Beauty and Lace and Pam Macmillion for the opportunity to read this and I will be looking
    for books to read by this Sally Hepworth


  9. Wow… this book had so much emotion for one novel.

    This is the first time I have read a novel by Sally Hepworth, so thank you for giving me the opportunity, as it is a book I would never have picked up off the shelf myself to read.

    Having daughters of my own, I felt this book really pulls at your emotions.
    Is heavy, but very well written that I found it easy and enjoyable to read.
    From the very first page I was drawn in, drawn in at Alice’s story, how will she tell Zoe? How does a Mother cope? How will Zoe cope? What is Zoes issue?

    I loved this book, well done Sally!

  10. Finished “the mothers promise ” by Sally Hepworth in tears. The way all the characters came together in this book really surprised me. Zoe, the 15 year old, battles with anxiety and her mum Alice’s battle with cancer had me admiring both characters strength and perseverance. A beautifully written book that had me appreciate having friends and family around in time of need!

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