Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Perfect by Rachel Joyce

Last summer I was swept away by The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.  There was something very sweet and compelling about the story of a man who decided to take a letter by hand to an old flame rather than put it in a post box.

I was excited to read on Twitter that Rachel Joyce had a second novel ready for this summer, and even more so when I was approved on Net Galley to read an early copy.

The premise is lovely - two school boys hear about leap seconds being added to the year 1972 and then when something happens are convinced that it occurs during these extra moments in time.  A perfect summer and a perfect family then fall apart dramatically and tragically.  Interspersed with this tale is a modern one of a man called Jim trying to readjust to life outside of institutional care.

I struggled with the book, there was so much I should have liked about it but it just didn't grip me. The writing was lyrical and the movement between 1972 and the present was very well done but... And I can't explain why I wasn't gripped.

The tension was such that I did have to stop reading frequently but this was constant - there was no let up and perhaps that is what made it hard going for me.  There was no urgency to the tension and equally no respite, I didn't feel I had to race through the book to find out what happened but there was no slow build either...

I am glad that I read to the end but rather than be surprised I had more of an "oh right" reaction.

I can see from reading reviews on line that I am in the minority (so far) with my views on this book, and it would have been hard to replicate the magic of Harold Fry but this second novel was decidedly 'meh' for me which was a shame.  It is going to be popular with book groups and readers, just not my cup of tea.

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