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The Promise of Happiness

by Justin Cartwright

I enjoyed this book, despite its incredible middle-classness and finding the younger characters quite irritating - saying 'like' in every other sentence drove me mad! Ju-ju is the family golden girl, but her imminent release from prison creates strong feelings in her parents and siblings alike. I liked the way each character's confusions, crises and guilty secrets are revealed to the reader but not to each other.

Extract

It's something about us English, that we don't really like to talk about anything. Or maybe it's just our generation: life, death, love, sex, that sort of thing, are all smothered over with deprecation. She and Charles never really discussed how they were coping with being the parents of someone who was in jail. Obviously they were coping very badly, Charles studying the cliffs endlessly, even the dog committing suicide, and the ghastly, tense visits she made, conspicuously unaccompanied by her husband, to those frightful prisons full of deranged, misshapen people .... The central question, which the vicar thinks they should address, is whether or not they are plagued by guilt. They have no reason to feel guilty, he says. But Charles won't discuss it.

Parallels

Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
 

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