I confess that I haven’t read an entire Jane Green novel since what I think of as her heyday of Jemima J and Mr Maybe. I’ve started her last three or four books with a smile on my face and hope in my heart, but I’ve abandoned them all after a few chapters because I haven’t found a way ‘in’ – the characters haven’t sung out to me in the way they did in her early books and their stories haven’t gripped me. Which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to report that it’s all change again with her latest novel, Promises to Keep. It’s the heartbreaking story of Callie, a young mother-of-two whose breast cancer returns after five years in remission, and the impact that her illness has on her family and friends. Somehow – miraculously – Jane Green manages to make it a story that makes you laugh as well as cry, and, more importantly, a story you just can’t put down. It’s a real page-turner – you’re desperate to find out how Callie’s story turns out – but there’s also a lovely ‘cosy-factor’ too, which is something I always look for in a great chick-lit book, and something I always aspire to put in my own writing. This may be something to do with the fact that Jane Green prints her favourite recipes in between each chapter, and because food (and its connection to love) is a big theme throughout. This gives it a refreshing twist on a classic chick-lit combination – great characters, a good story, and a friendly, intimate narrator’s voice that draws you into a different world. I’m a Jane Green fanatic all over again!
Holly McQueen is the London-based author of the Isabel Bookbinder series, The Glamorous Double Life of Isabel Bookbinder, The Fabulously Fashionable Life of Isabel Bookbinder, and Confetti Confidential. Her most recent novel is There Goes the Bride.