Joyce’s sophomore effort follows Byron, an 11-year-old boy growing up outside of London in 1972. One morning, his mother, Diana, is taking he and his sister to school when a terrible accident happens. The events that unfold that day change the trajectory of Byron and Diana’s future dramatically.
The narrative switches between the past – Byron and 1972 – and the present. Present day is told through the eyes of Jim, a 55-year-old gentleman who works in a cafe and has been in and out of mental institutions most of his life. Byron’s past and Jim’s present are connected, but just how leaves the reader turning the pages. This book is a well-crafted, strange little tale of what time means and how it can affect the most mundane parts of life.
I loved every single page until the final fourth of the novel. Joyce’s writing feels effortless. Her ability to turn a clever phrase is admirable and her talent at cutting through the ordinary with sharp, precise imagery is nearly unmatched. She’s the kind of writer I’d like to be if I were a writer. She’s a reader’s writer. Her characters are so well drawn – Diana, in particular, as the woman trapped in a cold, heartless marriage who loves her kids, but can barely breathe through the weight of all the things she never says.
After loving so much of Perfect, I was crushed at how unsatisfied and rushed the ending felt. Not that the ending wasn’t nice and thought-provoking in its way. But it just felt like the ending to a different story, something tacked on just to have the thing done already. The journey is definitely better than the destination which is sad because I’d have loved this story to live up to its ambitious title.
Despite the sourpuss ending, I highly recommend Joyce’s novels – both of them – even if I’ve haven’t read about Mr. Fry and his pilgrimage yet. While the conclusion might not have been perfect, Joyce at least gave me some great writing to start off the new year!
(CLOSED) P.S. I get to give away one free copy courtesy of the publisher to a US resident!! To enter just fill out this form. Winner will be selected and announced on Monday January 13, 2014! Good luck!
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a copy of the book in return for my honest review. Check out the other tour stops here!!
About the Author:
Rachel Joyce is the author of the international bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. She is also the award-winning writer of more than twenty plays for BBC Radio 4. She started writing after a twenty-year acting career, in which she performed leading roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company and won multiple awards. Rachel Joyce lives with her family on a Gloucestershire farm.