‘Perfect’ is Joyce’s second novel, released just over a year after her fantastically successful debut, ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’-one of the biggest-selling hardbacks of 2012…(still lingering in the limelight in paperback form) so not much pressure on this one, right?
Well in my humble opinion, Perfect is every bit as heart-warming as its over-achieving big brother. If I’m honest- I liked it a teensy bit more (but then I am a notorious champion of the under-dog).
Two stories run parallel- alternating chapters between 1972 and the ‘present day’. Byron, a young boy growing up in a privileged world of private schools and manor houses; and Jim, a middle-aged supermarket worker with poor social abilities. As their stories unfurl they patiently entwine and there lies the beauty of this novel. Joyce is so at ease with her characters that she is able to gently steer the reader through the book, slipping in details here and there which intrigue you to read on.
What I admire most about Joyce after reading both of her novels is the texture and warmth she gives her characters; I think most fiction readers will agree that you need to care about the characters in order to continue with a book. Joyce’s characters all have this lovable dys-functionality that I, as an intense lover of dysfunction, am drawn to. (In fact Jim reminded me very much of Don Tillman, from Graeme Simsion’s very enjoyable ‘The Rosie Project‘- another delightfully dysfunctional character. (Have I used the word ‘dysfunction’ enough? No? Didn’t think so.)
Thank you to Rachel Joyce for providing us with another wonderfully enjoyable read. I am very much looking forward to the next!
p.s. Read it while the sun is out!
p.p.s LONG LIVE DYSFUNCTION.