Friday, October 28, 2011

Books: Promise Me

Promise Me
By Richard Paul Evans
Copyright 2010

This is the weirdest Richard Paul Evans book I have read, and I have read at least five, maybe six, of his books. It is safe to say that I like the writer.

In Promise Me, Beth is the mother of Charlotte, a six-year old who is not feeling well. Her husband has an affair and then dies from pancreatic cancer. A man comes into her life, helps her out, and turns out to be someone completely unexpected.

If this book had been sent to a publisher by a first-time author, I feel sure it would have been rejected hands down. Fortunately for Evans, he's a best-selling author and probably at that point in his career where a boo-boo every now and then isn't going to wreck his life.

The book is told in a diary format, which Evans uses to better effect in The Walk. The Walk is the first of a trilogy, and I have read both parts, with the second being Miles to Go. I confess after reading Promise Me, I have some concerns about how The Walk trilogy ends. I will try not to be too upset if aliens suddenly beam up the protagonist when that third book comes out.

Anyway, the diary format works well, and our heroine, Beth, is a strong character with a good voice. However, the book goes all fantasy/sci-fi on the reader. This would be fine if you knew it was a fantasy or sci-fi book when you pick it up, but your first real hint of this is more than halfway through the book. The only inkling that there might be a curve ball comes early, but it's such a small hint that any reader who misses it can be forgiven for dismissing it.

Evans does very well with these tear-jerking books that bring up issues like infidelity, death of a loved one, illness, moving on with life, etc., etc., but I don't think bringing in a time traveler is really the way to indicate resolution. As it is, this book has nearly incestuous undertones and I can see why some people call it creepy on the Amazon reviews.

The story is science fiction masquerading as mainstream fiction, and it doesn't do either very well. It is understandable that readers would be upset with this book.

To be fair I can see that he has been heading in this direction. Some of his works have a supernatural or super-spiritual quality to them but they were never completely unbelievable. People have strange things happen all the time and he never slipped beyond the boundaries of disbelief - until this book. Though I confess The Gift, which was published in 2007, was a little far out there. It still didn't push the limits like Promise Me.

His editor really should have made him rewrite the thing from the middle to the end.

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