English Summary/英文概要: An English woman of thirty-two has her few possessions packed, ready for release from a Federal prison in Loon Lake, up-state New York.
· Her father aged sixty-eight stands peeing on small molluscs on a Cornish beach.
· His wife of sixty-four is butchering mackerel in the darkened kitchen of a lime-washed cottage nearby.
· Their daughter aged twenty-three is hovering on the set of an advertising shoot in a studio south-west of London.
· The brother, twenty-eight, unlocks a rented Chevrolet on an Alamo lot in Buffalo Niagara, New York.
These are the Judds, formerly of London N1, now scattered but about to be thrown together again by the shockwaves from eldest child Ju-Ju’s release from prison on the day that The Promise of Happiness opens. This is a family shattered by Juliet (Ju-Ju)’s conviction and imprisonment for art theft (fencing a Tiffany window to be precise).
Each member has felt its effects for their own separate, sometimes secret, reasons. For Charles, the father, it is a challenge to his sense of order and rightness of conduct and further proof of the disintegration of society. For wife Daphne, a source of resentment, an invalidation of her self-sacrifice as a mother. Brother Charlie and sister Sophie seem worried less at the morality of the theft than the dissolution of the immutable certainties and hierarchies of the family. For Ju-Ju, of course, the effects have been physical, and obvious. She is bitter and wounded at being the scapegoat for what was a victimless, even minor, offence. And whether or not she was technically or ethically culpable, feels bitter about her guilt for what her conviction has done to the family. Such is the selfishness of families and family love, the innate sense that the family owes something immutable to its members…
In The Promise of Happiness Booker-shortlisted Justin Cartwright tells the stories and secrets of the Judds which are, as in all families, interwoven yet at the same time discrete. He shows us them as they come together again, in apprehension as much as celebration, for Charlie’s wedding and the prodigal Ju-Ju’s return. It is a tour de force elegy to the idiocies and intimacies of family life and family love. Funny, moving, and profoundly shocking; it is his most ambitious, and most powerful, novel yet.
About the Author/作者介绍: Justin Cartwright was born in South Africa and educated in the US and at Oxford University. His books include LOOK AT IT THIS WAY, INTERIOR, MASAI DREAMING, IN EVERY FACE I MEET (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), LEADING THE CHEERS, which won the Whitbread Novel Award, HALF IN LOVE and his most recent novel WHITE LIGHTNING which was shortlisted for the 2002 Whitbread Novel Award.