Rachel Joyce is back with her second novel Perfect. Due to her debut novel, The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, being one of the best sellers of the last year and a Booker Prize longlist nominee, her follow up novel is one of the most anticipated of 2013.
In 1972 two seconds were added to the year so that clock time was balanced once again with the movement of the Earth. The moment young Byron Hemmingway learnt of this strange piece of news from his knowledgeable best friend, James, he was instantly perturbed. When and where would these extra two seconds be added and how would they affect people's lives?
During the school run one busy morning, Byron's mother decides to take a shortcut through a rough area that her husband has banned her from venturing in to. But as her husband has also berated her numerous times on being late, her panic to get the children to school on time pushes her to make the flash decision. Down this fateful Digby Road, as Byron is insistent that he sees the extra two seconds added to his watch and his mother is distracted, he notices a young girl on her bike in front of the car. A veer and a squeal of brakes latter and nothing will be the same for Byron's family ever again.
After only the first few pages of this novel you are reassuringly wrapped up in Rachel Joyce's tender style of writing. The characters instantly feel as vulnerable as real people and therefore their troubles hit you hard. This is a truly heart breaking story and it is Byron's mother that takes the brunt of it, with an emotionally, mentally (and hinted at physically) abusive husband she is worn down and taken advantage of so often in this novel it almost hurts to read.
Due to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry being such an incredible success it is inevitable that people will compare this novel to it. Although written with the same profound, tender style as Harold Fry, Perfect is a very different style of story. Perfect is far darker and with less climactic optimism but more realistic peripheral characters. One thing that is for sure is that readers are sure to fall in love with Byron just as much as they did with Harold Fry. Perfect is touching, evocative and truly spellbinding; prepare to have your heart broken.
Author: Rachel Joyce
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Limited