Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Perfect by Rachel Joyce

review by Maryom

In 1972 to make 'artificial' clock time agree with 'real' time measured by the Earth's movement, two seconds were added to the year. Hardly any time at all. Blink and you'd miss them. And after all, what could possibly happen in those two extra seconds? Well, as it turns out for 11 year old Byron Hemmings and his family, enough to change his whole world. A small accident kicks off events in the way that a small trickle of water seeping through a dam can eventually bring everything crashing down.

The story is told from two angles; that of Byron, back in 1972, struggling to understand what is happening as his once ordered and mapped out life is derailed and sent spinning out of control; and in the present, that of 50-something Jim who's spent his life in and out of psychiatric care, struggling to find order in a chaotic world, but taking the first tentative, stumbling steps towards a relationship. It's only as the story draws to a close that the reader realises the relationship between the two story-lines.

Perfect is an amazing second novel from Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - and, in my opinion, a far more complex and compelling story. It's rather dark but has the emotional pull that keeps me reading. I so wanted to discover what would happen to the characters, how the two halves would connect and would there be a happy, or at least hopeful, ending.
Joyce has been more ambitious this time with a wider range of characters, drawn with sympathy and understanding. Byron struggling to understand the changes taking place in his world; his mother, Diana, with her carefully built oh-so-perfect, but essentially hollow, life; and Jim with his daily 'rituals' that must be observed to keep the randomness of the universe at bay. There is of course a villain - the devious, manipulating Beverley who turns events to her advantage and infiltrates Byron's perfect world with devastating consequences. Byron may not understand her and her motives but the reader does, all too well!

Perfect is a novel exploring the fragility of our lives, particularly if like Diana's they're a sham - the events set in motion in those fateful two seconds bring the whole fa├žade crashing down. There's more than a touch of chaos theory about things - like the butterfly flapping its wings and creating a hurricane, one simple act sparks a chain reaction; some are engulfed by it; others turn it to their advantage.

Harold Fry brought Rachel Joyce a whole flood of fans, this will bring even more!

Maryom's Review - 5 stars
Publisher: Transworld Books
Genre: Adult, literary

Buy Perfect from Amazon

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