A charming chick lit work, it blends the serious with the humorous to good effect. Set in the 50s? 60s? A mother and her three kids leave an abusive, alcoholic man and move out of state to the small town where her prosperous father lives, who helps her buy a house only a few blocks from him. She gets a job at the department store which his wife owns.
But their first morning there, they awake to find an elderly woman comfortably seated on their front porch, reading their newspaper. Her name is Tillie, and she has removed herself from the assisted care facility back to what was once her home until her three sons sold it after their father died. She refuses to leave, and her one son who still lives in the town comes rushing up to take her back.
Tillie shows up again the next day, insisting that the house is hers, even though it had been sold, because she and her husband built it, she has sweat equity in it. The family can’t get rid of her; she goes into the kitchen and makes herself a cup of tea. cleans up and starts to make herself useful.
When school starts again, mom is working, and the teen son has to go back to school, there is no one to take care of the youngest toddler, Tillie says she can do it, and they offer her a room in the house.
Meanwhile, the alcoholic father has followed them to the new town, and secretly contacts our young 11 year old protagonist, swearing her to secrecy, telling her that the family will get together again soon, when the time is right. He swears he has given up drinking and is now a model citizen.
She believes him, and meets up with him a couple of times, finally telling him where she lives, and even describing the house and the bedrooms.
Well, you can guess that such a sharing is a very poor idea, and culminates in a corker of an ending.
Promises. Be careful what you promise.