Reviewed by Amanda Keats
There is fine line for most people between love and hate when it comes to family members. They upset, they infuriate, they judge and they always have something to say about your life – whether you want to hear it or not. But they are your family and you put up with it because when you really need them you know they will be there for you.
This is the premise of The Promise of Happiness as Louise McNeill makes the decision to return to her Irish hometown of Ballyfergus with her young son Oli to be near her family and start over. This is not a simple transition as her family still struggle to understand her decision to have a child alone and their judgement is far from subtle. But Louise soon discovers that she is not the only person in her family dealing with issues as she reacquaints herself with her two sisters and parents. Her elder sister Joanne is fighting with her husband a lot and getting overly snappy at her three children and her younger sister Sian is struggling to figure out the sudden reluctance her fiancé Andy has in setting a date for their wedding.
Kaye has created the perfect dysfunctional family unit in The Promise of Happiness from the hippy eco-warrier younger sister to the old fashioned and judgemental parents and the text mad teenage daughter Maddy. Their problems are realistic and you may want to scream into the book at them as you can see them making the wrong decisions, but you just know that you would probably have made the same mistakes yourself.
The genius in Kaye's writing is that she understands people and their imperfections and doesn't try to paint anyone in black and white. The entire book covers the grey area in between beautifully by examining what causes people to pass judgement on others and what it feels like to really start over when everything you once believed has been put into question.
It's a little long for my taste and overly sentimental in parts but a very easy read thanks to the family bickering and full blown rows which had me gasping in shock as much as it did laughing. Joanne's arguments with her teenage daughter were particularly entertaining!
A good holiday read but you'd leave it in the reception area of the hotel afterwards. It wouldn't make the journey back home with you.
More about The Promise of Happiness