a book review
Recently I read the novel Tilda’s Promise, by novelist and poet Jean P. Moore for our book club selection. Jean joined us to discuss her novel and I wrote about that here.
Review of Tilda’s Promise
Tilda Carr is afraid to go to sleep. Terrible things can happen in your sleep, like what happened to Harold. After forty years of marriage, Tilda finds herself alone and navigating her grief with as much grace as she is able. A funny thing happens when you are grieving — the world goes on.
Tilda faces the challenge of growing in her grief. Grief is an unwelcome teacher that pushes and pulls at Tilda as she turns her focus outward. The neighbor’s wife leaves her husband unexpectedly and Tilda simply can’t just let this man and his teenage daughter suffer through this alone. Something must be done about this.
Tilda’s granddaughter is also suffering greatly with the loss of her Grandfather, but something else is going on with Tilly. Tilda feels drawn to her pain, burdened with confusion. Tilda knows she must find a way to reach her, to understand her grief through eyes a generation away from her own. Can she really understand? Can she help Tilly through whatever is consuming her? Suddenly the granddaughter she’s known, who is named after her, no longer wants to be Tilly. How can Tilda bridge the grief between them?
Tilda’s Promise reaches into the places of us that want to judge, that want to run away, that want to crumple up and give up — and hands us Tilda, a tender woman who has suffered a great loss. She does not fold in on herself for long. Her attention belongs to the living, and in them, her life can gain traction.
The novel moves compassionately through the lives of Tilda and Tilly who are both suffering insurmountable grief. We are taken on the slow road of sorrow and through these two very different people, we learn lessons that only emotional pain and tragedy can teach us. As the storyline slowly unfolds, we experience renewal, empathy, and strength of character through Tilda, a woman who keeps her promises.
Pain teaches us to redefine ourselves.
I enjoyed the emotional depth of this novel. For a novel to be truly effective, the main character has to face challenges, grow, overcome, and share that experience with the reader. Tilda certainly does that and the reader finds it easy to be invested in her journey.
Other themes worthy of mention in this story involve Jewish customs, which are interwoven throughout the story. I find the inclusion of faith to varying degrees with the characters to add further depth and open up questions about how faith can absorb grief or catalyze growth through grief.
Issues of gender and sexuality are of great importance to the story as well, causing Tilda, as well as the reader, great introspection. Can love overcome confusion?
I welcome you to read Tilda’s Promise and experience these characters through the eyes and heart of empathy. Jean P. Moore handles grief in such a tender way through these characters. Her novel is well-written and compassionate, asking tough questions, some of which must be answered to the readers’ interpretation.
More Information about Jean P. Moore, novelist and poet:
A Brief Biography
Award-winning author, Jean P. Moore, is a novelist, poet, and non-fiction writer. Her novel, Water on the Moon, was published June 2014 and was the winner of the 2015 Independent Publishers Book Award for contemporary fiction. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and literary journals such as up street, SN Review, Adanna, The Timberline Review, Angels Flight Literary West, Distillery, Skirt, Slow Trains, Long Island Woman, the Hartford Courant, Greenwich Time, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Additionally, a memoir piece, “Finding Charles,” appears online in Persimmon Tree, Summer, 2011. Several anthologized poems can be read in Women’s Voices of the 21st Century, 2014. Her chapbook, Time’s Tyranny, Finishing Line Press, published in October 2017, was nominated for The Massachusetts Book Award, 2018.
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