The story tells of Tilly Peacock and Harry, young sweethearts who both make a promise to each other, and learn that promises, even whilst made with love and the best of intentions, can prove difficult to keep. Harry goes off to fight in France, and Tilly volunteers as a nurse, this role taking her away from her home, and eventually to France. Tilly's dear kindhearted brother Georgie has learning difficulties, however, despite this, he is later called up to fight too. Tilly asks Harry to promise he'll look after Georgie. Neither of them can know what they will face in the years ahead, and how difficult things will be for them both.
Linda Newbery includes details of the times in her narrative but is never heavy-handed with it. The awful reality of war for the men fighting, on both sides, is conveyed insightfully in the way Tilly comes to see men on both sides as victims, having treated injured German soldiers too, something that initially upset her, but she soon thinks of them differently;
'It was strange to care for men from the other side. I couldn't help thinking that one of them might have killed James Milton or fired the shell that wounded Harry. But soon I stopped thinking of them as 'the enemy'. They were victims of war, like the others I'd seen. They didn't hate the British soldiers.'
Tilly's Promise is a moving, well-written and engaging story told with honesty and warmth, and I really enjoyed reading it.
This book is labelled as being dyslexia friendly, and the publisher specialises in bringing books to those for whom their may be barriers to enjoying reading; they design their books to try and minimise the barriers - read more here. I love the cream-coloured pages and the clear, decent-sized font. At just under 90 pages, the story is substantial enough but not so long as to be daunting. I imagine that all these aspects, and the others that they've thought about, are of a real help to uncertain or reluctant readers. This is the first book I've read from this publisher and on the basis of this one I'd certainly look out for others in the future.