The Promise of Happiness

Justin Cartwright

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The Promise of Happiness

The Promise of Happiness The Judds formerly of London N now scattered are about to be thrown together again by the eldest child Juliet s release from prison in New York The family is devastated by Juliet s conviction for

  • Title: The Promise of Happiness
  • Author: Justin Cartwright
  • ISBN: 9780747577065
  • Page: 320
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Judds, formerly of London N1, now scattered, are about to be thrown together again by the eldest child Juliet s release from prison in New York The family is devastated by Juliet s conviction for art theft The nature of this theft and the reasons for it plague all the protagonists For Charles, the father, it is challenge to his sense of rightness and proof of the diThe Judds, formerly of London N1, now scattered, are about to be thrown together again by the eldest child Juliet s release from prison in New York The family is devastated by Juliet s conviction for art theft The nature of this theft and the reasons for it plague all the protagonists For Charles, the father, it is challenge to his sense of rightness and proof of the disintegration of society For his wife Daphne, it is a source of resentment and puzzlement Brother Charlie and sister Sophie are less worried by the morality of the theft than by the dissolution of the certainties of family For Juliet herself is bitter and wounded at being the scapegoat for a victimless crime And she feels guilty for the pain she has caused A powerful elegy to the idiocies and intimacies of family love, this is the captivating story of an apparently ordinary English family caught up in uncontrollable events, united again, as much by apprehension as celebration on the return of the prodigal daughter

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      Posted by:Justin Cartwright
      Published :2018-08-22T17:38:26+00:00

    One thought on “The Promise of Happiness

    1. Gavin Smith on said:

      The Promise of Happiness is a blandly irritating upper-middle class book that tells the blandly irritating upper-middle class story of a blandly irritating upper-middle class family. So much about this book falls flat that I almost don't know where to start. How about that the novel strives for a level of psychological realism but hinges on an event that is singularly unbelievable? Or maybe the fact that all of the radically different characters have the exact same inner voice? (Throwing in a 'l [...]

    2. Bookmarks Magazine on said:

      Winner of The Hawthornden Prize for Literature, The Promise of Happiness is not Justin Cartwright's first brush with literary acclaim. He's been short listed five times for the Whitbread Novel Award (which he won for Leading the Cheers), once for the MAN Booker Prize, and has received other prizes. That Cartwright remains little known Stateside, even though his name "is frequently mentioned alongside authors [in England] like Ian McEwan, Martin Amis and Kazuo Ishiguro" (New York Times), is a cle [...]

    3. Catherine Davison on said:

      Disappointing, Cartwright is often compared to Ian McEwan or Jonathan Franzen, in my opinion he's not in their league at all. This had the same introspective examination of the ordinariness of a British middle class family with all their angst and foibles but there was no tension. I didn't care for or about any of the characters. The dialogue was excruciating why did he have each young character say 'like' all the time? There was something odd going on with a shifting point of narration, intermi [...]

    4. Susan on said:

      I just love it when I find a great new (to me) writer. Justin Cartwright's prose is eloquent, his plotting like following a familiar road map to unexpected places, and his characterizations well contrived.The story bends around the central character of Juju Judd, convicted felon, beloved daughter, sister, lover. Her single act of mis-guided love has diverted the lives of her father and mother, brother and sister. But not entirely. Each one has managed to make questionable decisions all on his or [...]

    5. Emily on said:

      More of a 3/12 stars, because there were aspects that I really appreciated. In particular, the meditations on cruelties and injustices in the US justice system: although Ju-Ju was an annoying character --why does everyone in the family think she's so amazing? -- and she is far from a moral beacon, she didn't deserve the harsh treatment she got. The writing is very good, and the characters are relatively distinctive, and I suppose I don't mind that I didn't particularly like any of them. I think [...]

    6. Sally on said:

      This was truly awful – like being cornered at a party by a seedy old man with a tendency to repeat himself. He has five characters whose point of view he writes from, but they’re glove puppets and never come alive as real people, all spout his rather rancid and jaded world view. It’s not even well written either – he has a tin ear for dialogue and an odd habit of dropping meaninglessly into the first person at random points. Plot? He forgot to include one. Avoid at all costs!

    7. Kathleenmanley on said:

      This got a lot more interesting at the end. It should make for a great discussion as it doesn't seem to be crystal clear how everyone ends up. Characters truly are all despicable, and with the possible exception of the mother, doomed to be miserable!Possible Plot Spoiler: The author made a strong suggestion of incest between the brother and sister. No one else in the book group wanted to "go there," but why did the author write it to suggest such a possibility?

    8. Susan on said:

      I loved this book--a crazy, dysfunctional family (yes, another one) but Cartwright is such a good writer that it is not formulaic. I need to read more by him--he's not well known in the States.

    9. Lorna Gilder on said:

      A daughter is soon to be released from prison after being found guilty of stealing some art work. The rest of her immediate family are preparing for her release. The book tells of each family member’s thoughts about the release and how they managed whilst she was inside. Lots of details about the intricacies of family relationships and how they each see themselves. Not an uplifting read. Lots of character self-analysis.

    10. Catherinehaine Haines on said:

      This was a book that I stoically carried on reading, when I was desperate to read something brighter. When I reflect on what stands out for me , it is gloom and unhappiness. A family who do not connect because of the oldest daughter going to prison. Maybe there are many families like this in the current break up of our society, but I don't think reading about it has made me feel any better!

    11. Fiona Hocking on said:

      Written well, but the characters are all so boring, so prosaic. We're constantly told how fabulous Ju Ju is, I was constantly wishing to experience the sparkle, but don't think it escaped the author's imagination onto the page.

    12. Rachel on said:

      I found this book quite depressing and didn't really like the characters in it.

    13. Henriette A on said:

      2.5⭐️ — One of those novels that is more about character development than plot, but, well, the characters didn’t develop all that much. Still, enough interesting bits to keep me reading.

    14. Gloria on said:

      I wish there was a sequel. I want to know more about what happens to these characters.

    15. Mark on said:

      The story opens with the sad solitary figure of Charles Judd walking along a beach in Cornwall, as he has done every day for the past four years. We don’t know the reason, yet, for his sadness and self imposed exile but as the narrative unfolds there are many clues embedded in the text for the reader to understand his predicament. He knows he is losing his vitality and is becoming preoccupied with the state of his marriage and the emotional void he is feeling. Daphne Judd, his wife, has stood [...]

    16. Jenny Smith on said:

      I don't usually have strong feelings towards furniture, but I love my bookcase. I plan on buying a HUGE one when I finally settle down in a place! It lets me buy cheap novels on a whim, and save them for a rainy day. I actually acquired The Promise of Happiness when I did work experience at Bloomsbury Publishing 3 years ago, and I've only just gotten around to reading it!One of those glorious books that is character rather than plot-led, TPOH revolves around the Judd family in the weeks leading [...]

    17. Ian Mapp on said:

      Now then - I'm not sure what to make of this - and that's a good thing. It took me 9 days to read a 300 page book, which indicates a struggle. And at times, it certainly was. But there is enough intelligence there to make it worth the read.What I am not so sure of is it comes across as a little bit too clever for its own good. I still cannot tell what context the book was told in and at times who the narrator was.The book tells the story of the Judd Family and their disappointments in life that [...]

    18. Alan Hughes on said:

      From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Cartwright's hilarious, despairing, rapier-sharp third book (Leading the Cheers) delivers a great deal of the absent titular emotion. The five members of the Judd family, reeling from a series of personal and professional blows, have each retreated into a private world. But the impending release of eldest daughter Juliet, an art historian incarcerated in an upstate New York prison for helping to sell stolen Tiffany windows, sets the plot—and the family— [...]

    19. Jay Phillips on said:

      This book was loaned to me by a friend, I think she never finished reading it, and I can see why. The Promise of Happiness should be re-named the Promise of dreariness. It slowly introduces us to a couple, Charles and Daphne, now forcibly retired, from London now living in Cornwall. Married for over thirty years, the couple seem to grate on each other. Charles goes out for long walks to pee in the fresh air, and Daphne is learning to cook, but each meal ends in disaster! We soon learn that a lar [...]

    20. Christine on said:

      While the premise of this book is potentially interesting, the reality is sadly disappointing. It centres on the Judd family, one of whose children, JuJu, has been in prison in the US for apparently selling a valuable Tiffany stained glass window that is believed to be stolen. The story, which oscillates between the present day, when JuJu is released from prison, and the reflections that each family member has around the time of her trial. Her father, Charles, is also reflecting on his life as h [...]

    21. Andrew on said:

      I don't mind a family saga or even tales of middle class angst especially if I can engage with the characters as in the novels of Patrick Gale and I don't think its an issue of liking the characters as I enjoyed 'saturday' by Ian McEwan and the main character was pretty unlikeable , and I even enjoyed The Red House by Mark haddon which had a unappealing bunch of people in it however I enjoyed their story but with this book I just couldn't care less what happened to this family, . The plot revolv [...]

    22. Leonie on said:

      Basically a less polished Joanna Trollope. The three stars are because it was very readable, and there were some moments when I thought Cartwright captured someone's emotional state well. There's plenty wrong with it, though. There's the character of Ju-Ju, who, just as I was wondering what was so fascinating about her that her own father and brother were quasi-incestuously in love with her, as far as I can make out, commits actual incest with her brother. You don't just drop incest between main [...]

    23. Annemieke Windt on said:

      The cover of my copy of The Promise of Happiness reminds me of the seventies, the colours, the figures and the lay out. But Justin Cartwright's book is definitely a contemporary novel. It had been on my wish list at for years until I finally decided to buy it late last year. A good decision I have to say.There's an undertone of irony in the novel, which tells the story of the British Judd family who prepare themselves for the return of the prodigal daughter Juliet who had been in prison for two [...]

    24. Sergio GRANDE films on said:

      The prologue of this book reads thus: "A man of sixty-eight is standing on a Cornish beach, peeing on small molluscs. A woman of sixty-four is trying to fillet a mackerel in a low, dark kitchen in a lime-washed and slate-roofed house. A girl of twenty-three is standing on the set of a commercial in a studio in Shepperton, near London. A man of twenty-eight is hiring a car from Alamo Rentals, in Buffalo-Niagara, New York State. A woman of thirty-two is sitting on her bed, her things packed, in th [...]

    25. Jayne Charles on said:

      This was a great read, despite most of the action taking place in the past so the text was concerned with looking back and analysing, I fairly zipped through it. It’s a family based novel, concentrating on an ageing couple and their three grown up children, and the various unfortunate turns their lives have taken. Particularly good value is patriarch Charles, grumpy old curmudgeon and borderline Daily Mail reader that he is. The prose is well sculpted throughout, managing to be both literary a [...]

    26. Lorraine on said:

      I have been struggling to know what to write in this review so I turned to other reviews to see what I agree/disagree with and then regurgitate it somehow. I usually prefer to write down my opinion first and then compare. Anyhoo I tend to agree with the reviews that appoint only 1 or 2 stars. I don't want to be too critical though because I was quite happy to pick up the book each night at bedtime, it was just that it didn't stir up any emotion. I think at least one of the individual stories cou [...]

    27. Mark Spyker on said:

      Despite some bad reviews, I would like to join those who found this book powerful, insightful, & absorbing! Cartwright unpacks many themes in the process of describing Ju Ju's return home to her family in the UK after a couple of years in an American prison, including insightful reflections through her characters on art, ethics, law, loyalty, aging, and the many complex undercurrents that develop over time in family life. While this is by no means a religious book, the fact that Ju Ju's 'the [...]

    28. Kenny on said:

      The story of the Judd family from the release of daughter Juliet from prison, a multiperspective novel of the impact her sentencing (for art theft) had on a very middle class family. The characters have the feeling of depth, and are usually convincing voices - although I found the attempts to give the youngest daughter "young-person-speech" by adding "like" grated - and sometimes felt misplaced, and I couldn't see the appeal in the American author. However, I thought there was skill in the drawi [...]

    29. Josh Ang on said:

      This book promised to be a family pastoral, with all the requisite stock characters of a dysfunctional familyYou have the eldest daughter who was the apple of her father's eyes but lands in jail for an art theft; the ne'er do well son who is engaged to a European bombshell he is vaguely in love with, and who suddenly finds himself taking on the role of the responsible one in the family; the youngest and the runt of the family who fashions herself as a punkish Bridget Jones, with nose-ring and a [...]

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