The Promise of Happiness by Justin Cartwright - review by Geordie Greig

Geordie Greig

Miss Judd, the Fraudster

The Promise of Happiness


Bloomsbury 307pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

THIS BRILLIANT, MOVING novel by Justin Cartwright follows Tolstoy's dictum that while all happy families are alike, an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion. In this case the members of the Judd family - formerly of London NI, but now scattered all over the globe - have an awful lot to be unhappy about. They are forced into a grisly reunion after the eldest daughter, Juliet, is arrested, put on trial and sentenced to two years in an American jail for dealing in stolen art. The shame, shock and denial they experience are the central elements in this funny and poignant portrayal of disjointed middleclass family life. Juliet's release from her New York penitentiary highlights the fault lines between her relations.

This book is a worthy successor to Cartwright's Leading the Cheers, which won the Whitbread Novel Award, and White Lightning, which was shortlisted for the prize. This new novel turns on the optimistic proposition that life is meant to be about finding a degree of happiness through one's family. Like

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