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The Promised World

3.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  824 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
From the bestselling author of The Cure for Modern Life and Once Upon a Day comes a riveting novel of suspense about a literature professor whose carefully constructed life is shattered after the death of her twin brother and the unraveling of the secret world they shared.

On a March afternoon, while Lila Cole is working in her quiet office, her twin brother Billy points
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Atria Books (first published August 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,741)
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May 09, 2016 Tez rated it liked it
CONTENT WARNING: Child abuse, gaslighting, maybe-incest, body-shaming, fat-phobia, controlling someone else's food-intake.

"Suicide-by-police" - what does it mean? Police shoot Billy dead. How is that suicide? Anyway, apparently Billy wants them to kill him, and he gets his wish. I think "suicide-by-police" needs way more exploring, because there's barely anything here.

The Promised World is contemporary Gothic, with themes of effed-up families, gaslighting, manipulation, maybe-incest, and a big h
Oct 26, 2012 Gayle rated it it was ok
You know it’s bad when you only have 15 pages left of a book, and you can’t bring yourself to read them.

The Promised World by Lisa Tucker started out promising enough: a tale of family dysfunction focusing on twin brother/sister, Billy and Lila, who have an abnormally close relationship and a lot of unanswered questions about their past. When Billy kills himself – suicide by police – Lila tries to figure out why, and starts unraveling a lot of mysteries about their childhood and what she remembe
Dec 16, 2009 Deirdre rated it it was amazing
This engrossing tale delves deep into the power of memory and the often blurry lines between actual events and the stories we're told about those events. The focus of the book are Lila and Billy, a set of unusually close fraternal twins whose lives and stories are enwtined more than anyone can imagine. After Billy's death Lila completely breaks down, leaving her husband Patrick - a man who has always valued reason and logic over emotion - to sift through what he knows and what he is told to piec ...more
Rosalind Gallaspie
Oct 26, 2009 Rosalind Gallaspie rated it it was ok
The poorly conceived ending ruined this book for me.
Jul 31, 2011 Jeny rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed this book until I got to the end, where the author just kinda wrapped things but didn't really address everything in the book. After reading it, I was left with asking questions. I was really disappointed with the ending.
Feb 06, 2010 Mary rated it it was ok
When I read the book cover, it said something about how the book would haunt me after I finished the last page so I thought it would be a great ending. The book itself was ok, but the ending was pretty disappointing.
Sep 23, 2009 Wendy rated it really liked it
In today's climate, with the news full of stories men turning to mass murder and suicide, The Promised World seems an even more fitting book for the times. Unlike the men in the news stories, however, Billy Cole had no intention of killing anyone other than himself the day he aimed his unloaded rifle at an elementary school. His pain had become too much for him to bear. Lisa Tucker offers a firsthand look at a family in crisis and the impact suicide can have on such a family.

Billy had been every
Lila Cole seemingly has it made: she teaches English literature at a good university in Pennsylvannia, her husband, Patrick was willing to take a lesser job at a smaller university to accompany her there, and she seems to have a solid marriage.

But all of this comes crashing down around her when her twin brother, Billy, commits "suicide by police," after being charged with child abuse by his wife, Ashley.

Lila's world crashes with the death of Billy, and she ends up estranged from her husband, a
Oct 29, 2009 Colleen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
This gripping tale of family secrets and shattered lives is both tragic and redemptive. When Billy commits suicide, his fraternal Lila is left shattered. Unable to understand Billy's actions or to piece together the fractured pieces of her childhood without his help, Lila starts to separate from her life trying to piece together what happened in his. Meanwhile Billy's wife Ashley and Lila's husband Patrick dance around the edges of the picture, reintroducing Lila's mother Barbara to the family w ...more
Nov 01, 2009 Staci rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
I've read quite a few favorable reviews on this one that made me want to read it immediately. I'm always interested in family dramas and this book has all of that and then some. I knew right away that something wasn't right with Lila and her twin brother Billy, but it took some time before I could really figure out what their relationship was all about. I thought the writing was really strong and the story had elements of mystery that I enjoyed trying to figure out. In the end, I felt my heart g ...more
3.5 stars

That ending was pretty twisted! I didn't see that coming. If you enjoyed Everything I Never Told You then you would probably also like this novel. Both novels revolve around a family who must continue to survive after a loved one dies unexpectedly.

In The Promised World, we follow the lives of several characters dealing with the aftermath of the death of Lila's twin brother, Billy. The story is told from the perspective of Lila early on, but as the story progresses, the reader also gets
Oct 01, 2009 Michelle rated it liked it
Child abuse is always a difficult subject to wrap one’s head around. It’s uncomfortable and emotional and not short of infuriating yet Tucker has skillfully navigated her way through those issues to build a story that handles each delicately. She’s crafted a story that is both thought provoking and suspenseful; one which the reader is not quite able to pinpoint what has actually happened until the very bitter end when the pieces of the puzzle are more closely locking together. While not the dark ...more
Jun 18, 2011 Meena rated it it was ok
Although there wasn't really violence in this novel, it was a bit creepier/darker than I thought it would be. I love the idea of a novel about close fraternal twins (I have a fraternal twin, a sister.) Plus adding in mental issues makes me interested in reading. I enjoyed that the POV switches each chapter from Lila and her husband Patrick to Lila's nephew William and even Ashley, her sister-in-law. I also did not think that this book was as confusing as it could have been. I really liked how Li ...more
Gina Wymore
The Promised World by Lisa Tucker is a fiction novel and psychological thriller. When successful literary professor Lila Cola learns about her twin brother Billy’s death, her life is turned upside down. Billy had been her rock and the bond they shared was indestructible. She describes a troubled childhood where she recalls little, however, Billy had filled in the gaps with stories of cheerful times. It isn’t until his death that Lila comes to know the truth about her childhood, family, and brot ...more
Jun 28, 2009 Jackie rated it it was amazing
"Words can be like arrows. You can't see them, and that's why they're so dangerous. With an ordinary arrow, if you get hit, you know you have to remove it from your body. With words, you can never pull them out once they get stuck in your mind."

This quote comes toward the end of this extraordinary novel, but it is it's essence. At first it seems that this book is about a woman, Lila, dealing with the shocking 'suicide by cop' death of her twin, Billy. But that is simply the point where we jump i
Tattered Cover Book Store
Sep 06, 2009 Tattered Cover Book Store added it
Recommended to Tattered Cover by: The IndieNext list for September 2009
Jackie says:

"Words can be like arrows. You can't see them, and that's why they're so dangerous. With an ordinary arrow, if you get hit, you know you have to remove it from your body. With words, you can never pull them out once they get stuck in your mind."

This quote comes toward the end of this extraordinary novel, but it is it's essence. At first it seems that this book is about a woman, Lila, dealing with the shocking 'suicide by cop' death of her twin, Billy. But that is simply the point wh
Deon Stonehouse
Lila Cole’s life was formed by her twin brother Billy. When he is killed by police she comes apart at the seams. As Lila sinks into a morass of grief, dark secrets start bubbling to the surface. Lila and her husband Patrick are both successful professors. Patrick never questioned his wife’s unusually strong bond with her brother, or her reticence to speak about her parents. Patrick is quite content with a calm ordered life until his wife goes off the rails and everything she has ever told him ab ...more
Carla Ford
Aug 16, 2009 Carla Ford rated it really liked it
I had a hard time becoming really engrossed in this book until about the middle, but then I couldn't put it down because I was so curious to know the truth about Billy and Lila's childhood. As Lila seems to be losing her own will to live after the death of her twin brother Billy, her wonderful husband Patrick refuses to let her give up. He does some soul searching of his own and realizes that his own issues contributed to Lila's problems, and he determines to pull her through. As Patrick and Lil ...more
Aug 24, 2011 Kayla rated it liked it
I found this book VERY confusing. Such a good idea, but I felt like the author tried to have too many drastic twists and turns and often the reader was clued in until much later in the book which caused me to stop and think a bunch and have to go back to figure things out. I liked the idea behind the story a lot: twins Lila & Billy had a horrible childhood and Lila has been told stories from Billy so she doesn't have to remember the horrible things they endured as children. All around I real ...more
Melissa Foster
Sep 07, 2010 Melissa Foster rated it really liked it
I picked up this book on a whim, which I do often--I was in a hurry and the cover caught my eye. I read the back and gave it a shot. Lisa Tucker is a skilled author! Promised World is a twisted tale of twins and their families, primarily their mother. Without giving away the cruxt of the novel, it touches on control between siblings and parents. Their lives are convoluted, to say the least. The book also speaks volumes about the inner strength of people and the ability that others have to manipu ...more
Allyson Langston
Sep 16, 2009 Allyson Langston rated it really liked it
Okay--this was intriguing. I honestly spent 95% of the book trying to figure out what was going on--what had happened to the protagonist that "erased" her memories? Why had her brother jumped off the deep end? It definitely kept me reading. When the "shocking" conclusion was reached, I felt a little let down, maybe. It's about fraternal twins, their bond, their history, and their past. It was really . .. different, but in the end, I did like it. Not uplifting--wouldn't surprise me to see it as a ...more
May 31, 2010 Jane rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book not because of beautiful writing, although the writing is fine. I liked the mystery of it. Who is crazy? is the question at the heart of the mystery this book is. It's the mystery of a dysfunctional family, several generations of dysfunction. Patrick is too good to be true, but that was fine with me. Lila certainly needed someone this good in order to survive. It was a page turner. Not like the book I'm currently reading, The Three Weissmans of Wesport, which is a page savore ...more
Dec 23, 2009 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star
Wow. This is an incredibly well-written novel - I could NOT put it down. The Promised World follows twins Lila and Billy - they have always been extremely close and the book opens with Billy killing himself. Obviously this throws Lila into a tailspin and she simply cannot cope without Billy. Billy's death changes the lives of everyone in his family - secrets and lies surface and the reader hardly knows what to believe. An unbelievable book about the love between siblings and dealing with an abus ...more
Jun 15, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok
I'm not sure what to make of this novel. If I had stopped before reading the final 10%, I would have given it 3 stars for sure and possibly 4. However, for me, the ending fell very flat. It was totally ambiguous and non-satisfying. I'm not sure what the author was trying to convey. Perhaps it fits in with the overal theme of the book, but it just left me confused and feeling a bit cheated. I read the entire book for that ending? Really? I am torn between 2 stars and 3 stars; if possible, I would ...more
Jan 15, 2011 Tovansteve rated it really liked it
How fast can the individual's psych deteriorate? This is a well writtine narrative exposing the intricates of human relationships, the horrid consequences of abuse, and the impact of deception on a person.
Dec 17, 2015 Kayla rated it really liked it
The Promised World is notable for its remarkable, realistic, flawed group of characters. Lila is mourning her twin brother (Billy)'s suicide by cop. The more she learns, the more the careful stories he told her about her childhood begin to unravel. The tale she slowly, unwillingly uncovers is horrific. Alongside her is her husband, Patrick. He can't help but feel alienated by the realization that he knows next to nothing about his wife's life. Billy's wife, Ashley, isn't the mother she wants to ...more
Sally Gawne
Feb 26, 2011 Sally Gawne rated it it was amazing
Lisa Tucker originally from MO and now PA has written five novels.
This is the first one I have read, but not the last, as this lady can tell a story. She has a brilliant way of pacing the story. Only after the main theme and characters have been ensconced does she switch and lets each character speak from their point of view.
The story starts with twins; Billy and Lila are brainy orphaned adults. Lila has married Patrick but has not wanted children and Billy marries a showgirl, Ashley and has t
Bree T
Aug 15, 2011 Bree T rated it liked it
I saw a review for this one around the blogosphere and given I’d just requested the author’s latest novel from NetGalley I thought I would give this one a go and have a look at one of her previous works.

Lila Cole is a professor at a University focusing on literature – novels that usually involve the Great American Dream. She is working quietly, unaware that her twin brother Billy is choosing that moment to commit ‘suicide by cop’. Suicide by cop involves making a choice that will give officers n
May 12, 2012 Michael rated it liked it
Lila Cole has been close to her twin brother Billy for as long as she can remember. The two share a unbreakable pact of trust, love and respect. Ever since their childhood, they manage to overcome their obstacles and disappointments by relying on each other for comfort. While working in her office,Lila is stunned by the devastating news about her brother's death. Upon learning about the consequences of his death, she learns that her troubled twin was estranged from his wife and he put his eight ...more
Aug 27, 2012 L-Isabella rated it liked it
I must admit that this book caught me off guard. The way it sucked me in to keep reading was so fast & unbelievable.

Lila & Billy are twins. Lila is married to Patrick, with no children, while Billy is married to Ashley with three kids, Pearl, William and Maisy. Lila & Billy are as close as twins can be, until Billy dies by ‘suicide by police’ and Lila realizes maybe she didn’t know her twin at all.

The story unfolds little by little with such a capture on your mind to find out what wi
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Lisa Tucker is the author of six novels: The Winters in Bloom, coming this September; The Song Reader, Shout Down the Moon, Once Upon a Day, The Cure for Modern Life, and The Promised World.

Her books have been published in twelve countries and selected for Borders Original Voices, Book of the Month Club, the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, People magazine Critic’s Choice, Redbook Book Club, A
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