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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a moving, funny and page turning book
This book has had incredible reviews, and rightly so. It is a moving account of a family's attempts to come to terms with the fact that their eldest daughter, the golden girl of the family, has been imprisoned for an art theft. We get all five members of the family's point of view, and it ends with an astonishing scene when they are finally re-united. One critic, and I...
Published on 3 May 2005

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated - Don't believe the hype
I was so, so disappointed by this book, the reviews and online recommendations, had built my hopes up quite high.
But the book, was dull, laborious and tedious to read.
I've read better about family reactions, from different view points etc. Some of the characters were particularly unlikable, and it was very much written from a male view point. As a female,...
Published on 22 Jun 2005 by Book Worm


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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a moving, funny and page turning book, 3 May 2005
By A Customer
This book has had incredible reviews, and rightly so. It is a moving account of a family's attempts to come to terms with the fact that their eldest daughter, the golden girl of the family, has been imprisoned for an art theft. We get all five members of the family's point of view, and it ends with an astonishing scene when they are finally re-united. One critic, and I heartily agree, described this as the most moving book he has read in ten years. But a word of warning: it is not a feel-good,sentimental read, which is what some of the people who have written in expect. It is a genuine work of literature, but very accessible and very contemporary. Please, please read this if you are interested in the way we live now.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For once the hype is justified. Electrifying, 25 Jun 2005
By A Customer
It's very rare to read a novel so full of ideas and observations, and to find at the same time that it is very enjoyable and easy to read. I couldn't put it down. It's about a family in crisis, but still agonisingly funny. The favourite daughter has been involved in an art theft in New York, and the novel opens on the day she is let out of prison. Her parents, Daphne and Charles, her sister Sophie and her brother Charlie are all wonderfully well described. Charles is having something of a crisis, unable to come to terms with his daughter's imprisonment. The book is crammed full of moving and - as I said - funny moments, and lays bare the soul of this family. There are also interesting observations on art, on families, on life as we live it now. Don't miss this book. They hype is definitely justified.
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78 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read even if the happiness is rather elusive, 7 Mar 2005
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This is a very rewarding book, a story of a family going through a challenging time, with the eldest daughter being released from prison, bringing all sorts of undercurrents to the surface of this typically middle class family. JoJo was convicted of fraudulently handling some antique windows, while working in New York. Her family in England coped with this in various ways, but the greatest impact was on her parents. Her father went into denial and during her two year incarceration was unable to bring himself to visit her in jail, leaving her mother to go by herself. When the time comes for her release, JoJo's brother goes across to meet her at the prison and to take her through a few days of acclimatisation during which he keeps in touch with the other family members by telephone as they anticipate the reunion a the family home in Cornwall.
The book is tense at times, largely centring on the relationship between the mother and father who find various way of not coping very well. There is also an element of the detective novel about this book as clearly, JoJo's conviction was not the best example of US justice and requires investigation by her brother, who delves into the truth behind it. I would rate this as an extremely well-written book which deserves the reputation is has gained since its release.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated - Don't believe the hype, 22 Jun 2005
By 
Book Worm (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
I was so, so disappointed by this book, the reviews and online recommendations, had built my hopes up quite high.
But the book, was dull, laborious and tedious to read.
I've read better about family reactions, from different view points etc. Some of the characters were particularly unlikable, and it was very much written from a male view point. As a female, some of it was disheartening.
overall it lacked pace, and was overly concerned with how people find their true happiness, in an obvious pop psychology way, which grated more than anything.
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68 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turning, sometimes shocking, and amusing family story, 5 Feb 2005
By A Customer
Justin Cartright is a writer with a fantastic ability to observe. In this case he has turned his attention to an English family, the Judds, whose lives have been turned upside down by the arrest of their eldest daughter, Juliet, in New York two years before. The book opens on the day she is released after two years. Each member of the family reacts differently.as they wait for her return to Cornwall. And each member of the family is superbly drawn. I am not surprised this has had such fantastic reviews. I read it straight through, unable to put it down. At times I thought the author must have known my own family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Families are like sea anemones, quick to close.", 13 Dec 2011
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Justin Cartwright always writes well about family life. In The Promise of Happiness he shows it with its ups and downs, joys and disappointments. Sometimes the feeling is that there are more disappointments than anything else.....

After many years of marriage Charles and Daphne Judd find they have less and less in common. Their daughter Juliet has just been released from prison in Ohio and will soon be home, still hurt by the fact that her father never once visited her in prison. Their younger daughter Sophie is at the end of a drug-fuelled few years and in a relationship with a man twenty years her senior. Son Charlie's internet business is thriving and he is living with "smouldering beauty" Ana. A wedding is being arranged - the only problem being that Charlie is no longer sure that he actually loves Ana. So potentially this is a family on the brink of disintegration. But, as Cartwright points out, families are like sea anemones, quick to close.

The narrative is particularly interesting the way in which we are given wrong, or incomplete information and the wider picture is only revealed much later on. Juliet seems to have coped well with prison life but later the real horror of her time inside spills out. Sophie's drug-taking is made to sound almost cool - then the reality of it all is revealed.

I liked the way Cartwright doesn't tie up all the loose ends and spell everything out to the reader. Some gaps are left that we can fill in for ourselves.

Perceptive and funny - and with a redemptive ending (well, sort of!)
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars London, New York, St Minver, 24 Jun 2005
By 
i have enjoyed others of Cartright's books in the past, saw this featured on richard & judy so decided to read this too. it rankes as one of his best. he does particularly well to keep you involved and engaged with these characters even though some of them (Charles and Ju-Ju particularly) are not very likable. i went from enjoying watching the smug islington family disintegrating to feeling some affection for them (families are families wherever you are I guess). the usual humour is there too, although the queen mum joke is a bit old.
a great summer read in the 3 for 2s. who will play sophie (the wild child daughter) in the movie?
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe the hype. This is utterly fantastic., 12 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This is a family novel of an apparently ordinary English family. But in the course of
unravelling the story of all five members, which starts on the day the favourite daughter Juliet is released from jail, we get a intimate and moving and above all
utterly honest picture of the Judd family of London and Cornwall. The New York Times raved about it, which is how I first heard of it, saying it was "unsurpassed", and now
I find that all my friends are raving about it. But it is not just some Aga Saga. It is very subtle and moving. It's really taken the old Aga Saga format and turned it into
literature. Don't miss this one!
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, perceptive, illuminating..., 27 Aug 2006
If you are a traditionalist and like story telling with a straight forward construction told in the past tense, you will hate this book! It is undoubtedly challenging as it jumps from the first to the third person from one paragraph to the next and the author interrupts at times too. It is basically about the sheer magical fascination of ordinary family life and I loved it. It smacks of reality and is poignant without stooping to the manipulative emotional hand wringing seen in so much contemporary writing. Highly recommended to anyone interested in human interaction and what might motivate behaviour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promise unfulfilled, 28 Jan 2014
By 
Joey VanB (Cumbria England) - See all my reviews
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Having enjoyed other Justin Cartwright novels I started this one in a positive mind set and the early chapters set the scene with flair and imagination . A third of the way into the book I had begun to find the whole story trite and frothy ; the characters all equally insufferable and the ambition of the book somehow limited and shallow.l have perhaps come to expect more from this talented writer than is delivered in the title.
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The Promise of Happiness
The Promise of Happiness by Justin Cartwright (Paperback - 19 April 2010)
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