Review of “Promise Me” by Richard Paul Evans

What is it with these Christmas books? No matter how much alike they are, no matter how predictable, you can’t get through them without crying.

This one is about a young woman, Beth, who was not having a good life. It was 1989. Beth discovered her husband was cheating. A lot. Nevertheless, she decided she still loved him and would forgive him, only to find out he was dying of pancreatic cancer. He died in October. Meanwhile, her daughter Charlotte developed a mysterious disease no one could diagnose. Between the medical bills for her husband and daughter, Beth could no longer afford payments on her house. Then on Christmas Day, during a quick trip to the neighborhood 7-Eleven, she met a handsome stranger, Matthew, who changed her life forever.

However, when we first meet Beth in a prologue, it’s Christmas Eve, 2008, and she is married to Kevin.

The desire to find out what happened in the intervening years keeps you reading to the end, when we come back full-circle to the beginning.

Discussion: This book is of the “holiday book” genre in which you expect certain tropes, like magic or angels, and in which you do not expect to find multisyllabic words or high-flown prose. Even accepting the parameters of the genre, however, the author seems to have forgotten some important parts of the plot set-up. Thus, in spite of the appealing aspects of his main conceit, there are crater-sized holes in the logic that the author just elides over at the end. However, this didn’t stop me from crying. Christmas books, Christmas movies, Christmas commercials – doesn’t matter: they turn me into a eye-leaking mess.

Evaluation: A readable Christmas book with a fun twist, albeit with a couple of gapingly large plot holes.

Rating: 3/5

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2010

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15 Responses to Review of “Promise Me” by Richard Paul Evans

  1. Jenny says:

    Hehe I know what you meant about the writing and plot just being eh but the book still making you cry!

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    I generally abhor books like this, but enjoy them during the holiday season, for some odd reason.

  3. zibilee says:

    I also cried when I read this one, and thought it was a good holiday read. As we discussed, I didn’t really notice all the plot holes when I was reading it, but when we talked about it, you made me think of some things in a different way, and made me see that there were indeed some big plot holes! I am glad that you liked it, even though there were some things in it that bugged you!

  4. stacybuckeye says:

    Well, if it made you cry then it did its job 🙂 I usually avoid Christmas books at Christmas time (this year being the exception, started one last night) but find them enjoyable in the summer, when I’m looking for some of that Christmas magic.

  5. Ol lets try to put this comment under the right post 🙂 This looks good and better than some Christmas reads I have read.

  6. Jenners says:

    This is the reason I hate these kinds of books — they are manipulative!!

  7. lol I know EXACTLY what you mean about Christmas books, movies, and commercials, and I laughed out loud reading that in your review. I’m reading one atm, and I’m just so comforted by knowing exactly who the good guys are, and who the bad guys are and that somehow everything is going to work out magically in the end. Ah, this time of year 🙂

  8. JoAnn says:

    I used to read one ‘holiday book’ in December, but have given up the habit in recent years. The last one I read was Fannie Flagg’s A Redbird Christmas… it was pretty good as an audio.

  9. Plot holes! You are such a punster!

    I’m such a lightweight, I get emotional when I see Hallmark commercials on TV … no Christmas tearjerkers for me.

  10. I would still read it! I love this type of book during the holiday season 😀

  11. softdrink says:

    I’m like that with that tv show where they fix up people’s houses. It makes me cry every time, yet the same thing happens in every episode. You’d think I’d be over it by now.

  12. harvee says:

    With a cup of spiked eggnog in hand, no one will mind the gaping plot gaps 🙂

  13. Margot says:

    I know what you mean by the Christmas crying. I’m also afflicted. I read The Christmas List by the same author and it was okay. I had to suspend my desire to make the story seem realistic. It was a remake of the Scrooge story and wasn’t bad – just not great. This book sounds like the same thing.

  14. Julie P. says:

    Your first sentence summed it up for me too. I always cry when I read these books.

  15. Rachel says:

    My book club always read a Christmas related book for our December read and it’s hard not to find on that’s over the top cheesy. I’ll have to keep this one in mind for next year.

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