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The Mother's Promise

A Novel

Sally Hepworth


List Price: 26.99*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (1/30/2018)
CD-Audio (2/21/2017)
Hardcover, Large Print (2/22/2017)

March 2017 Indie Next List

“The Mother's Promise is an emotional story of a mother's love for her teenage daughter, who is struggling with severe social anxiety. Alice and her daughter, Zoe, cope with their problems until Alice becomes critically ill and is faced with a heartbreaking prognosis. She turns to two strangers for help with Zoe and her future. As the relationship among Zoe and these women evolves, they all confront their own personal problems and secrets. This beautifully written story will move readers to tears of grief, compassion, and, at its conclusion, hope.”
— Fran Duke (W), Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA
View the List


A poignant and breathtaking novel from the author of The Things We Keep and The Secrets of Midwives.

All their lives, Alice Stanhope and her daughter, Zoe, have been a family of two, living quietly in Northern California. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works—until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and needs to fight for her life.

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers but who are her only hope: Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets—secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family. Imbued with heart and humor in even the most dismal moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters and the new ways in which families are forged.

Sally Hepworth novels are "sure to appeal to fans of Jojo Moyes, Jodi Picoult, and Lisa Genova; book clubs will be lining up." —Library Journal (starred review)

Praise For The Mother's Promise: A Novel

Praise for The Mother’s Promise:

“Grab the tissues: this story of a mother’s search for a loving, fierce protector for her child won’t leave you dry-eyed.” —People

“This bittersweet, emotionally intense novel is recommended for readers who appreciate issue-driven stories by Jodi Piccoult and Lisa Genova.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Part tear-jerker, part celebration of mothers, this story tugs at the heartstrings… a beautiful novel of courage and love in the face of sorrow.”Booklist

“Conveys with sympathy and depth the stories of four Northern California women who face important issues not typically found in fiction.” —New York Journal of Books

St. Martin's Press, 9781250077752, 384pp.

Publication Date: February 21, 2017

About the Author

Sally Hepworth is a former event planner and human resources professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. She is the author of Love Like The French, published by Random House Germany. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the U.K., and Canada, and she now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and two young children.

Conversation Starters from

1. Sonja, Kate, and Alice all have service-oriented jobs but are very isolated when it comes to their personal struggles. Where do we see key moments in the story when they begin to open up their personal lives to others?  What prompts these changes and why were they each so isolated before?

2. Where do we see examples of different characters hiding information in order to protect each other? In each example, do the secrets improve or worsen the situation?  Would you make the same decisions?

3. In this novel we see two women struggling in their marriages in very different ways.

4. On page 118, Sonja wonders, “Then again, what did it mean to make a marriage succeed?  Was it simply about staying together? Or was there something more she should be striving for?”

5. How do you define a successful marriage?

6. What does Kate mean when, on page 164, she realizes that “marriage wasn’t meant to be conditional”?

7. How does Kate’s relationship with Zoe help her better understand her relationship with her own father?

8. Were you surprised when the identity of Zoe’s father was revealed? What was your reaction to the explanation that George gave to Sonja about his relationship with Alice?

9. Why does Alice react to Kate in such a strong, negative way at first? What are key moments when we see her attitude begin to change?  Why does it change?

10. How do Zoe’s relationships with Kate and Harry affect her? Where do we see examples of the effect they have on her in her actions and demeanor?

11. On page sixteen, Sonja thinks, “Happiness was something you shared, chatted about, asked after. Suffering was something that you had to do behind closed doors, in silence, all alone.” Where do we see different characters living by this statement? Where do we see them going against it, and with what outcomes?

12. What do you imagine the future to hold for Zoe? What about for Kate and Sonja?