A powerful elegy to the intimacies and idiocies of family, The Promise of Happiness tells the story of an apparently ordinary family on the cusp of an extraordinary moment: the return of the family’s prodigal daughter, Juliet. Her release from an upstate New York prison throws the Judds,... read more
Juliet Judd (or Ju-Ju), a fantastically wonderful, brilliant, amazing daughter (as told by the author, who never seems to demonstrate these attributions in the actual story), is finally released from jail in upstate New York. The release is a cathartic moment for her family (and her parents... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Juliet Judd (or Ju-Ju), a fantastically wonderful, brilliant, amazing daughter (as told by the author, who never seems to demonstrate these attributions in the actual story), is finally released from jail in upstate New York. The release is a cathartic moment for her family (and her parents especially), who in her absence have in their own way stagnated and declined. Mother Daphne Judd sees the release as a cause for a reunification and redemption of the family, a theme which pervades the novel and a symbolism that underscores most of the narrative and character development.
As the family rallies around her release, their own shortcomings are revealed and developed. Her sister Sophie is in London having an affair with a much older married man in a meaningless advertising job, whilst living a life of wild excess on the side. Her brother Charlie has done well with a business but is trapped in a relationship and job he feels extremely ambivalent about. Father Charles has started to lose his mental capacities and resents what his life has become in Cornwall. Daphne in turn resents Charles' attitude and is desperately trying to express herself and break out of the funk.
However all the dysfunctional family members come together for Juliet's sake. Daphne insists Charlie get married to his wife in Cornwall, giving all the characters the impetus to reunite finally and present themselves as a united and strong from the world once more.
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