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The Promise of Happiness

New or Used: 3 copies from $17.95
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Shortlisted for Richard and Judy's Book Club For fans of Nabokov, Coetzee, Ian McEwan and Martin Amis Cartwright has previously been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Novel Award 1998 Major trade and consumer advertising campaign

About the Author

Justin Cartwright's novels include the Booker-shortlisted In Every Face I Meet, the Whitbread Novel Award-winner Leading the Cheers and the acclaimed White Lightning which was shortlisted for the 2002 Whitbread Novel Award. Justin Cartwright was born in South Africa, and now lives in Islington, London.


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-in motion. As Juliet-once the apple of her parents' eye but now the family's black sheep-drives to the city with brother Charlie, her father mulls his own professional disgrace, her mother looks to home cooking as a salve, sister Sophie continues to wean herself off drugs (and a married man) and Charlie, the rock of the family, has doubts about his impending marriage to a South American socialite. Each sees their efforts as "the secretion of human folly," but the novel retains a measure of hope for the very thing it despairs of: family. Happiness may be too much to ask for, but its chase, Cartwright suggests, can be at the best of times a family pursuit. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

'Justin Cartwright is one of our best novelists' Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph 'Brilliant, dazzling, unsettling; subtle and haunting; complex and multi-layered; deeply moving ... Cartwright manages to combine the thrilling readability of genre fiction with the unpredictability and strangeness of a literary master' Independent on Sunday 'Justin Cartwright looks to be one of the finest novelists currently at work' Guardian 'Cartwright has been gaining a formidable literary reputation, and each new book has only added to it. This one is a special treat: as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. It confirms his status as one of our foremost novelists' Daily Mail

Award-winning British author Cartwright (Leading the Cheers) again offers a wry exploration of human foibles and the dark comedy of relationships. The Judd family is in crisis: Charles Judd has been forced into an uneasy retirement living in Cornwall with his worried wife. Their "years together have produced a fine mist of resentment which neither of them can quite dispel." His younger children are confused and self-critical and his beloved eldest daughter is in prison. Charles often behaves horribly, but his quest for a moral universe has been imprinted on his children, who are thus saved from shallowness-though they still struggle with "the promise of happiness" their embittered father denigrates. Like Jonathan Franzen, with whom he has been compared, Cartwright writes pitch-perfect dialog, inhabits his female characters as fully as he does the male, and glares unflinchingly at contemporary life. He knowingly delineates the darkest traits of decent people; the vain, petty, and hateful things most people say only to themselves. His characters are nonetheless endearing and his intricate, nuanced portrayals of family relationships astoundingly good.-Laurie Sullivan, Sage Group Internationl, Nashville Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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