Review: 'Annie's Promise' by Margaret Graham (2013)
In the mid-1950s, Britain looks forward to a prosperous future. And Annie Manon has come home to the North-east to keep a promise. Annie is eager to start a new life for her family, and with her fledgling fashion business, she looks forward to providing work for the women of Wassingham.
But not everything is rosy. As well as her painful wartime memories, Annie must cope with an accident that cripples her husband and she must deal with the increasingly unreasonable behaviour of their daughter Sarah. When Sarah leaves home for London, Annie is torn between love for her only child and the need to keep her promise to her community...
When I found an unexpected review copy of Margaret Graham’s book ‘Annie’s Promise’ in my mailbox, I was straight away attracted to the cover. I’ve always been interested in things that have a specific old or vintage aspect to them; I loved hearing my grandmother’s stories of when she was young and went out dancing, or of her time during the war. The cover of ‘Annie’s Promise’ already promises a story with an older feel to it, and the blurb confirmed my expectations. I was quite curious to start the book and to find out more about Margaret Graham, an author I wasn’t familiar with before this review copy landed on my doorstep.
‘Annie’s Promise’ is set in the 1950’s, a time just after the war when everyone was hoping for the best and hoping for that opportunity to thrive after such a difficult period. The same counts for Annie Manon and her family who live in the north-east of England and have plans of starting their own fashion business in their home town Wassingham. Annie is trying to set aside her painful wartime memories, but even though she is trying her best to stay positive, it seems life still has several blows in store for her. While she is trying to set up a successful business, her husband Georgie is unexpectedly involved in a serious accident and her daughter Sarah is growing up which is the cause of her continuing difficult behaviour. Annie has to deal with it all, which eventually forces her to make some important life decisions.
While this novel is in fact a sequel to another Margaret Graham novel, ‘After the Storm’, I felt it could easily be read as a stand-alone. Occasionally I found myself a bit curious about what had happened to Annie before the start of this particular novel, because it is referred to quite often throughout the story, but enough explanation was given to enjoy this story about a different part of her life. I really liked the collection of primary and secondary characters in the book: Annie Manon, her husband Georgie, her brother Tom, her daughter Sarah... Each of them added a different aspect to the story that focuses mainly on the family building up their own business in their hometown Wassingham in the 1950’s. Times are difficult, but the Manons are trying to stay positive, no matter what life throws at them, and trust me... It’s quite a lot that comes their way!
It did take me quite a bit of time to get into the story, but I ended up really feeling for the characters and enjoying the novel. Especially Sarah’s story at the end of the novel gripped me and made me not want to put the book down until I’d finished it. Margaret Graham’s book was originally published in 1994 and re-released in 2014, but it’s a story that isn’t time bound and still entertains. ‘Annie’s Promise’ is a fast-paced, family-oriented, moving novel and a recommendation for anyone looking for a good piece of compelling women’s fiction.