Hardback: 361 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday 2013
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: In 1972, two seconds were added to time. Britain agreed to join the Common Market and 'Beg, Steal or Borrow' by the New Seekers was the entry for Eurovision.
Review Quote: "A near-flawless novel of emotional truth. Joyce executes this story with precision and flair... Its unputdownable factor lies in its exploration of so many multilayered emotions... It is her clever did-I-read-that-right twist at the end that really got to me and had me scrabbling back through the chapters, open-mouthed." (Evening Standard)
Favourite Quote: “That's what nobody realizes. Two seconds are huge. It's the difference between something happening and something not happening. You could take one step too many and fall over the edge of a cliff. It's very dangerous.”
My Opinion: A beguiling read.
Whilst researching for an author profile of Rachel Joyce recently I discovered that the character of Byron, the protagonist of 'Perfect' has been in her thoughts for much longer than her previous novel 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' With this information in mind I decided that despite not having read the earlier novel, I know how did I miss out on it, I would go ahead and read 'Perfect' first. Rachel Joyce tells us in a letter on her website that ' The idea about the cost of perfection and an idea that changes everything, as well as the central characters, has been loitering in my head for many years.'
Perfect scene setting draws one in immediately, a hot English July day in a country garden where the air is heavy with the scent of flowers. The story revolves around the female protagonist Diana, the fragile middle class wife that is in an unhappy marriage. Her husband is a control freak, even managing to rule her life when he is away in the city working all week. One summer day in 1972 two seconds are added to time and it is this that causes, dramatic life changes for the family
with poignant consequences. Her son Byron was terrified by the addition of those seconds, thanks to a vivid imagination and what happened that day. With a friend he seeks to try and find out what really happened, but is he successful.
Jump on forty years to the present day and we meet Jim, a discharged psychiatric patient who finds life out side an institutional setting over whelming. Just how these two stories link up and provide the reader with a beguiling read I leave you to discover for yourself.
Having enjoyed the writing style of this author I will look out for any future novels she writes and have of course added 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to my wishlist. Do not be misled by the title 'Perfect' which does create in one's mind something completely different to the tragic story that unfolds in this novel which I highly recommend to all lovers of literary fiction.
Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Perfect published in July 2013. She was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards 'New Writer of the Year' in December 2012.
Joyce has also written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman's Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play.
She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and Cheek by Jowl, winning a Time Out Best Actress award and the Sony Silver.
The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.
Goodreads - Author Profile Amazon Author Profile Rachel Joyce - Official Website