Tilda’s Promise by Jean P. Moore

a book review

Image by Michelle Maria from Pixabay

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

Jean P. Moore, author of Tilda’s Promise, photo by Christina Ward

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:

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Writer “Jean P. Moore is a fine storyteller. She writes about the push and pull between the generations, and about loss…www.jeanpmoore.com

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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I Met with Author Jean P. Moore at our Book Club Event

She shares her insights on her book and some advice

(Stay tuned for a follow-up book review post of Tilda’s Promise!)

Jean P. Moore, author of Tilda’s Promise

I am a member of the Friends of the Library Book Club at our local library. Occasionally we have the joy of hosting an author and on May 22,  Jean P Moore visited with us and shared about her book Tilda’s Promise, which was our latest book selection.

The Friends of the Library book club meets every other month at our local library. We discuss the current reading selection, giving each person a chance to share their thoughts on the book, and discuss questions led by Rich, our librarian.

The conversation around Tilda’s Promise was stimulating. People shared their thoughts on the book, about their personal grief, and about their thoughts on gender-confusion. It was a beautiful thing to talk about the book while having input from the actual author of the book.

Tilda’s Promise is a novel that deals with heavy subjects in a tender way, with characters that are well-developed and knowable. Tilda herself is an empathetic and strong woman that I found to be both likable and inspirational. She is not a particularly religious woman and she’s dealing with the terrible grief of the sudden loss of her husband and doing so while dealing empathetically with the difficult life circumstances of those around her.

You will remember her journey.

I found the book to be most similar in style with Eat, Pray, Love, although the protagonist in each book handled their grief differently — both were on a quest of self-discovery and healing. I found the pacing of the book to be a bit on the slower side, to allow for the story to be told in real-grief time, giving time for the characters and their stories to unfold, deepen.

Moore was, herself, an empathetic, genuine, thoughtful soul. Her kindness and openness about her writing were touching to me. I asked her how she preferred to write, and she described how she used Word for her writing, emailing segments of it to herself for safe keeping and to guard against document loss.

I enjoyed hearing her describe how the characters of her book lived in her head while she was writing. How she cried with them.

She expressed a joy about coming to book clubs such as ours and being reminded that we are still a nation of readers that love to come together and discuss books.

When I asked her about what inspired her to write Tilda’s Promise, Moore had this to say: 

My inspiration came from what I was observing around me: the losses my friends were experiencing, the deaths of spouses and in one very tragic instance, the death of an adult daughter. These made me realize that our time on this planet is fleeting. At any moment we may be touched by the death of a loved one. I wanted to explore how one goes on after such loss, how does one find meaning?

There are continuing education classes to take in writing, art, music. I think by finding our talent and expressing it, we learn more about what it is to human. Such expression can be deeply illuminating and satisfying.

I wanted to see and to express how one find’s purpose in life after experiencing life shattering loss.

Moore conversing with book club members.

I also asked her if she had any advice for other writers, such as myself, and her answer was eloquent and helpful.

My advice to writers on their journeys is to stick with their passion. If you are a writer, you will know that you have to write, no matter what. You will develop a tough skin when it comes to rejection; you will not be discouraged. You will also know that writing is at its heart a form of communication, one being to another. You will strive to find your audience. And when you finally begin to have publishing successes, you will be helpful to others who are trying to follow the same path.

The evening, the refreshments, and the open conversations were a memorable and invigorating. If you’re not a member of a book club I hope that you will find one. This nostalgic activity could be just what your soul needs on your reading journey to add a richness that cannot be matched. I am so grateful that I got my introverted self to step out of my comfort zone and into the conversation. I encourage you to do the same.

Moore’s closing remarks were: We’ve all read and heard that we don’t read books anymore, but when I visit book clubs, I am always so touched by the appreciation for books. These groups give me hope that in our communities, in our homes and libraries, we are still engaging in deep and rich discussions of ideas.

Author Jean P. Moore

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My advice to writers— Writer–You Need to Own it

Thank you for reading, Christina

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