Perfect is Rachel Joyce’s second novel and it has 445 pages. I loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry so I bought Perfect the moment it came out.
“In 1972, two seconds were added to time. It was in order to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. Byron Hemming knew this because James Lowe had told him and James was the cleverest boy at school. But how could time change? The steady movement of hands around a clock was as certain as their golden futures.
Then Byron's mother, late for the school run, makes a devastating mistake. Byron's perfect world is shattered. Were those two extra seconds to blame? Can what follows ever be set right?”
This certainly was a very charming novel but I didn’t love it as much as Harold Fry.
Joyce waves some very interesting topics into this novel; social class, mental illness, the search for perfection, having and losing control, the failure of parents and children alike, responsibility and prejudice.
The tenseness created by Byron’s father is palpable in every word about his youth. His presence is felt in everything that happens in the household. Not only his control and cruelty have a huge influence on the family, his insecurities have consequences too.
When Jim meets Eileen, you can almost feel the changes she makes in his life, his mental illness and how their relationship grows. Those were very beautiful parts in the novel.
Jim’s story is the most affecting. His loneliness and emotional problems are heard in every sentence.
But beneath this tender and sad novel there’s always a hint of something good, of hope.
Joyce has a simple and silent humor that is still present in the novel for example in the parts about Jim’s workplace. This makes the novel easier to digest and easier to get through it.
She writes beautifully, it's easy to read and with elegant prose, she understands her characters and has eye for detail. Joyce has given us a very beautiful novel. A very sad and painful novel, but still a very beautiful novel. This sadness however, makes it hard to absolutely love this novel.
It’s tragic at moments and that’s the reason why it took me so long to read this novel. You really have to have the right mindset to read it.
Rachel Joyce builds the tension very subtle, every word or gesture builds to the dramatic ending.
One negative thing comes to mind though. I feel like Joyce tried a bit too hard. She should have simplified the part about Byron, there’s too much going on in my opinion.
Perfect is a very lovely novel and is suited for everyone who likes to read about ‘real’ people and how they deal with the events in their life.
What to do on a rainy Sunday?