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Perfect [Kindle Edition]

Rachel Joyce
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (415 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

Summer, 1972: In the claustrophobic heat, eleven-year-old Byron and his friend begin ‘Operation Perfect’, a hapless mission to rescue Byron’s mother from impending crisis.

Winter, present day: As frost creeps across the moor, Jim cleans tables in the local café, a solitary figure struggling with OCD. His job is a relief from the rituals that govern his nights.

Little would seem to connect them except that two seconds can change everything.
And if your world can be shattered in an instant, can time also put it right?

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Product Description


"A near-flawless novel of emotional truth. Joyce executes this story with precision and flair... Its unputdownable factor lies in its exploration of so many multilayered emotions... It is her clever did-I-read-that-right twist at the end that really got to me and had me scrabbling back through the chapters, open-mouthed." (Evening Standard)

"The power of Joyce's prose lies in small, astute observations... [her] subtle touches give the book an intense, slightly mesmeric feel. Tense and engrossing... readers who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will not be disappointed." (Sunday Times)

"Joyce's faith in the essential goodness of humanity and her observation of the comedy in the everyday shine through... This is a darker, more complex novel than Joyce's first but readers will find other points of comparison. Not least a twist that few will see coming and will leave you reeling; and a redemptive ending that is perhaps the sweeter given all the pain that goes before. An instant classic, Perfect confirms Rachel Joyce as a major new British literary voice." (Daily Express)

"Diana herself is faultless. She is to Perfect what Harold Fry was to [The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry]: a fully rounded hero, someone to fall in love with and argue about, cherish and admonish, as though she were real... If only there were more novelists like Rachel Joyce" (Telegraph)

"What’s right with it? You’ll fall in love with the characters. They’re kind, anxious, flawed, funny and wonderful. Also, knowing that the two stories will have to meet builds a wonderful sense of tension. What’s wrong with it? Nothing. It’s brilliant. Even the fact that Byron is convinced that scientists tried to slip an extra two seconds into time is a wonderful hook for all the decisions he goes on to make. Verdict: Uplifting, engaging, sad and funny. A perfect follow-up to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry." (Heat magazine's #1 book to be reading right now (July))

Book Description

A new Sunday Times bestseller from the author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry with a very different but equally unlikely and heartrending hero. A story of secrets, a terrible mistake, and the destructive nature of perfection.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1487 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (4 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CQ1DI46
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (415 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,819 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Perfect published in July 2013. She was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards 'New Writer of the Year' in December 2012.

Joyce has also written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman's Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play.

She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and Cheek by Jowl, winning a Time Out Best Actress award and the Sony Silver.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another gem from Rachel Joyce. 2 Sept. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The more I read of Rachel Joyce the more I think that her long involvement with theatre has been behind her ability to create such credible characters. I was irritated by Beverley, frustrated by Diana and wanted to give 'Jim' a big hug and tell him it would all be alright in the end. Then along came Eileen.

Wonderful, wonderful stuff with a clever denouement. Joyce's powers of description are like nothing else that I have read. Quite how she manages to come up with so many creative images that totally avoid what could very easily be cliche I don't know.

Can't wait for next month and her new novel.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointing 26 Mar. 2014
By Macey89 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
I loved Rachel Joyce’s first novel, ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’, but found her second one harder to get through.

On the one hand, we follow the lives of Byron, his family and his friend James over the course of a summer in the 1970’s. An accident, two additional seconds and a childish need to right a wrong will have devastating effects on the lives of everyone involved.

In the other, Jim cleans tables at a café. Having been in and out of psychiatric care all his life, he keeps his head down and avoids contact with others as much as possible. He lives alone, and only by following a strict regime of rituals and routine does he feel safe.

These two threads weave together, until the truth behind what happened in 1972 is finally revealed.

For me, ‘Perfect’ lacked pace and was a bit slow moving. I also didn’t feel the same levels of connection to the characters as in Rachel Joyce’s last novel, and I found Byron and James especially hard to relate to. Maybe if I hadn’t read ‘Harold Fry’ and had such high expectations I would have enjoyed it more. But that doesn’t change the fact that I actually found some parts of this novel a little dull. A large part of the book is set in the 70’s, and something about the language, the setting and the way it was written just didn’t capture my imagination. I enjoyed the alternate storyline with Jim a lot more.

When it got to the closing chapters, and the storylines started to come together, it finally turned into the kind of book I wish I’d been reading all along. I didn’t see the twist coming, and when it did, it was fantastic. It was hard-hitting and emotional – and really highlighted the fact that the ripple effects of just one moment can completely change the course of someone’s life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not so perfect. 27 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I've heard so much about "Perfect", and here I am, giving it 2 stars. The premise is so mystifying, so pregnant with drama and things to come: in 1972, two seconds are added to time, and these two seconds are seeds to all the things to come. Ah Rachel Joyce, I wish you would have done something dramatically different with those 2 seconds.

The book focuses on Byron and James, two privileged boys attending an independent school in the middle of nowhere. James is the smart one, perhaps a bit distracted and nerdy, it is James who shares his knowledge about 2 extra seconds with Byron. And Byron, overweight and best friends with his mother Diana, a beauty with a mysterious past (or so we are lead to believe), starts to believe that 2 extra seconds could not bring anything good into the world. What if something happens? And indeed it does. The plot sounds pretty straightforward, the narrative is evocative and you are just waiting for the twist.

Alternating chapters revolve around an old man Jim, damaged character whose is living in a van and does not remember (or does not want to remember) much about his past, and who is busy counting his ones ant twos.

So, here we are, Byron, James, Jim. And Diana, who tries hard (or does she?) to be a perfect wife, who refuses to be one of the other "mothers", who is scared of her husband Seymour and who starts to hang out with an unlikely friend Beverley after an accident that happened in the 2 extra seconds of time one sunny spring day.

It all sounds very compelling in the review, but does not open up beautifully on the paper.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Perfect 22 Dec. 2013
This is a story about time. How a few seconds can alter lives forever.

Byron Hemming is concerned after his friend James tells him that two seconds are going to be added to time. He becomes convinced that this is unnatural and is sure to result in some disastrous consequences. He is not wrong. After he inadvertently causes an accident, his life begins to unravel.

This accident will forever alter the lives of an array of characters; Byron and James, Diana and Seymour (Byron's mother and father), and a little girl and her mother (Jeanie and Beverley) from the wrong side of the tracks.

In alternating chapters we are introduced to a middle-aged man named Jim who is battling both severe mental illness and the demons from his past. You sense that somehow these two stories are connected, and I was so sure I had it figured out until Part 3 when I realised all my expectations and assumptions were incorrect (in a good way).

This was a very good story, and yet I found it so uncomfortable to read. It was like waiting for a horrific accident you know is going to happen, but you don't know when or how. And there is nothing anyone can do to change it. Beverley was so manipulative and the most unsympathetic character I have met in a long time, despite her unfortunate social situation. I was really hoping her scheming would lead to her own undoing.

And poor James and Byron, despite their good intentions, their interference just made matters worse for everyone.

The looming catastrophe was shocking, but not in the way I expected, almost as if the entire story was a red herring. Part three felt a bit anti-climatic, but I liked the way it slowed down towards the end.
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