I let the sink overflow, I burnt dinner and I stayed up way too late several nights in a row while reading The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick – and it was all worth it.
This rich tale by the New York Times bestselling author has many twists and turns – most of them unexpected – to keep the reader captivated.
It is also written with such warmth and colour that it almost feels like you’re part of it.
Have a read of the blurb before I say more:
Every child prodigy grows up eventually. For the Promise sisters, escaping their mother’s narcissism and the notoriety that came with her bestselling book hasn’t been easy.
Minerva Promise claimed that her three “test tube” daughters—gifted pianist Joanie, artistic Meg, and storyteller Avery—were engineered and molded to be geniuses.
In adulthood, their modest lives fall far short of her grand ambitions. But now, twenty years after the book’s release, she hopes to redeem herself by taking part in a new documentary.
Meg, who hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years, adamantly refuses to participate, until a car accident leaves her with crushing medical bills.
While she recuperates in Seattle, the three sisters reluctantly meet with filmmaker Hal Seeger, another former prodigy. Like them, he’s familiar with the weight of failed potential.
But as he digs deeper, he uncovers secrets they’ve hidden from each other—and a revelation that will challenge their beliefs, even as it spurs them to forge their own extraordinary lives at last.
I’m fascinated by the question of ‘what next?’ for child prodigies. It certainly can’t be an easy road, especially if your mother is anything like Minerva Promise.
What we learn as the book goes on is that she is perhaps not quite the villain we think she is and I really enjoyed unpicking her past.
In fact, I really liked all of the characters, especially the sisters who are all strong-willed, creative and funny and have a lovely bond, despite of – or maybe because of – their dysfunctional childhood.
When it comes to their individual talents, I especially enjoyed seeing all of them find their joy – if not for the first time then for the first time in a long while.
There are some truly shocking revelations and near the end of the book it almost seems like a competition – I think Minerva wins, just.
It certainly makes for a book very hard to put down (maybe set an alarm if you’re cooking dinner at the same time).
My rating: Five stars.
With thanks to Kensington Books (via NetGalley) for the ARC in return for an honest review.