Book Review

The Promise – Michelle Vernal

I am reviewing the charming novel The Promise by Michelle Vernal today. As always, before I share my thoughts, here is the all important blurb.


The Promise Cover

Two women from different generations brought together by another’s wrongdoing.

When British backpacker, Isabel Stark happens across a car accident on a lonely stretch of road in the South Island of New Zealand her life changes forever. The sole passenger, Ginny Havelock asks her to make a promise before she passes away—to find Constance and to say she’s sorry.

Isabel’s a lost soul who’s been drifting through life unsure of where she fits, and the promise she made in New Zealand haunts her upon her return to the United Kingdom. Her only clue as to finding Constance lies within a conversation held at Ginny’s funeral. It takes her to the Isle of Wight.

In the 1940’s sixteen-year-old Constance’s life on her island is sheltered until the death of her brother; Ted brings the reality of war crashing down around her. He leaves behind his pregnant young widow Ginny. When Constance meets a handsome Canadian Airforce man, she’s eager to escape her grief and be swept up by first love. It’s a love which has ramifications she could never envisage.  

When Isabel and Constance’s paths finally cross will Ginny’s last words be enough for Constance to make peace with her past? And in fulfilling her promise will Isabel find a place she can call home?


I was initially drawn to this book by the fact that is located largely on the Isle of Wight. It was lovely to read something set in a place where I spent many happy holidays myself. Michelle Vernal’s writing really brought the island to life and brought back many childhood memories. It has made me really want to go back over to the island, and if you haven’t already been, believe me, you will want to after reading this.

The Promise begins in New Zealand with Isabel approaching the end of a period spent travelling, and follows her as she struggles to adjust and find her place in the world when she returns to the UK. I found Isabel to be a really relatable character – although I have never died my hair green, I found myself empathising with someone who took a while to find their calling.

Part two of the book takes you back in time to World War Two, and shows an island ravaged by the effects of war. I am ashamed to say that it had never occurred to me just how badly affected the Isle of Wight was by the war, but it makes sense when you think about it with its proximity to Portsmouth with its huge Naval presence. Reading about Constance as a young woman was my favourite part of the book, seeing her grow up faster than she should, and setting the scene for the devastating secret that Ginny had kept all her life, and which had taken her away from Constance and the island.

The final part of the book brings Isabel’s and Constance’s stories together, and shows how peace and happiness can be found in the most unusual friendships. I loved how the small Ryde community gathered together to become a family for two lost souls.

The inclusion of the natural remedies taken from Constance’s recipe book that divided the parts of the novel was a really nice touch and tied the book together beautifully.

The Promise is a sweet story, which is both heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure.

If The Promise takes your fancy, you can purchase it from Amazon here:

Amazon UK



Michelle Vernal is a Harper Collins author who loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband, their two boys and a needy three-legged black cat in Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She is a freelance writer for a Canterbury lifestyle magazine who is currently working on her seventh novel. Michelle’s a firm believer in happy endings, and all of her stories are written with humour and warmth.





Thanks to Michelle and to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and for providing me with my copy of the book. You can find details of all the other blogs taking part below.

The Promise Full Tour Banner

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