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The Idea of Perfection [Paperback]

Kate Grenville
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • ASIN: B000HT2OVM
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
IN HIS EX-WIFE'S clever decorating magazines Douglas Cheeseman had seen mattress ticking being amusing. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Idea of Perfection 3 July 2007
I thought that The Secret River was a brilliant book, as was Lilian's Story, but, for me, this is the Kate Grenville I shall remember the best.

It is such an Australian story, in that it nails small town Australia -the look, the feel, the smell, the sounds -perfectly. There are laughs a plenty in many of the small town scenes. I defy anyone reading about the buying of the bucket not to chortle out loud. The central story and theme is universal, but it is Kate Grenville's skilful depictionThe characters (and that includes the poor Bank Manager's wife) are so sympathetically drawn, and their inner turmoils are described with memorable humour and pathos. It really did make me laugh, and then the final chapters describing the love between the two central couples as they all came to terms with their own ideas of perfection moved me to tears.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book starts as languidly as the weather in NSW, and one can almost feel the heat coming out of the pages. The hurts and shattered dreams of two outsiders to a small town are delicately unfurled, and throughout there is a sense of how fragile human emotions are and how easy it is to pretend that life is safer alone, without intimacy. Yet how those yearnings never let us alone. A beautiful exploration of loss and hope.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cleverly crafted comedy of social behaviour 8 Feb 2009
This novel was for me an introduction to the writing of Australian writer Kate Grenville. It was passed on to me by an Australian Bookcrossing friend, while she was visiting Italy last year and I have been looking forward to reading it since then. I am really glad that she warned me that the characters in this novel are not typical Australians, as they are certainly a strange collection of eccentrics!

In my opinion it took the first two thirds of the book for the story to build, the last third was the most enjoyable. However althought I felt that although the story line was somewhat weak the characters were strongly portrayed especially the protagonists, Douglas and Harley also Felicity the bankers wife and Mr Chang the butcher.
The story is based in and around the bush town of Karakarook, although the two protagonists actually come from out of town. They are a strange pair whom you would never expect to be attracted to each other, but it is between this socially inept couple that romance blossoms! The story is at times as painful and cringe making as it is touching and laugh out loud funny.
There is an old bent bridge in Karakarook and Douglas is there to replace it, whilst Harley is there to save it by helping set up a museum as an attraction to tourists. It is no surprise really that the book felt slow as it is perhaps reflecting the way of life in the Australian bush.
Not one thing about life or the people in Karakarook seems perfect in complete contrast to the title The Idea of Perfection!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hot! 8 Dec 2002
This is a gorgeous book. The searing heat of Australia can be felt in every page and everything just moves slowly to accommodate it. The two main characters are beautifully drawn and the conclusion well-paced and exactly as you would want it to be. Better than perfection? Definitely!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars favourite Grenville 6 April 2012
By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER
The Idea of Perfection is the fifth novel by Australian author, Kate Grenville. Set in the dying country town of Karakarook, NSW, pop.1374, the story revolves around the Bent Bridge: the Heritage mob (Karakarook Heritage Museum Committee) believes it can attract tourists; the Shire councillors want to tear this now-dangerous construction down. Enter divorcee Douglas Cheeseman, engineer from the Lands Office, in town to tear down the old bridge and start construction of the replacement. A self-confessed bridge bore who suffers from fear of heights, he can see a way to save the old bridge but lacks the guts to do anything about it. The other newcomer in town is Harley Savage, Consultant (Part-time) to the Curator (Textiles) at the Sydney Museum of Applied Arts, here to help establish the Karakarook Heritage Museum on a grant from the Cultural Affairs Board. Descended from famous artists, Harley, who has gone through three husbands, considers herself a danger to anyone who gets too close; she is big and clumsy, and lacks creativity, except when it comes to quilts. Felicity, neurotic wife of Hugh Porcelline, manager of the Karakarook branch of the Land & Pastoral Bank, believes that the local butcher, Alfred Chang, is in love with her. How their lives intersect is made into a mesmerising story by this talented novelist. Grenville's descriptions bring her characters vividly to life and she conveys the feel of the country town and "the bush" so well, the reader almost feels the heat and the flies. City dwellers Harley and Douglas find this town different: "But out here, she could see people went by different rules. You did not just pick out the best bits of life. You took the whole lot, the good and the bad. You forgave people for being who they were, and you hoped they would be able to forgive you. Read more ›
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a rich and textured read 31 July 2001
By mdemari
This book is a deftly constructed piece and a pleasure to read. Grenville takes the time to illuminate her characters her characters and their environment so that as you read the book you are in a small country town in rural NSW Australia, you feel the heat and flies. You can smell the dust on the road and feel the relief of the shade. By the end of the book you know some of those small town 'characters' that so often lie flat on the page as cliches. The novel also works at a symbolic level with the juxtaposition of the Bank manager's wife to the main characters. And there is a scene where the protagonist swims in the river that is just wonderful and reminds me of the scene in the 'Piano' where the piano sinks in the ocean. I can see why this book won the Orange prize. This book is every bit as good as anything by Dawn Powell or Patrick Hamilton who also create wonderful character studies.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed
I found this book slow at first but gradually was drawn into the story and ended up really liking it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Fwat
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow at first but worth persisting
Finished on 19th April 2014. A slow start, the two main characters didn’t formally meet until over halfway through the book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by suzanne
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but don't expect any action until at least 70% of the way through!
We read this as a book club and reaction was muted. No one hated it but no one loved it either. It is nicely written but there are no speech marks - made me realise the value of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by jabel
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Very disappointed with this as I had loved all the other books by Grenville. There just didn't seem to be much of a story and I didn't really empathise at all with the main... Read more
Published 2 months ago by phoenix
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterclass in Novel Writing
The book adopts an intriguing narrative structure, with storylines running parallel to one another. It challenges notions of romantic love and presents the dilemma of physical... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Tina Stockman
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing but so true account of bush country relationships and life.
Intriguing but so true account of bush country relationships and life. A different read with the worthy kate Grennville mark.
Published 10 months ago by Mr C. Ware
2.0 out of 5 stars You only get what you pay for..
I have enjoyed reading Kate Grenville before and was delighted to be able to get one of her novels on my kindle for such a bargain price.(1!) However I was disappointed. Read more
Published 22 months ago by M. Hargreaves
3.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment
After reading "The River", which I loved and was saddened to have it end, a brilliant book, I eagerly snatched up this one and was very disappointed. Read more
Published on 16 July 2009 by J. E. Swenson
4.0 out of 5 stars funny and sweet and oh so human
The reviewer who was bored with this book made me chuckle because she is, at least in part, right! There is no plot to speak of, and not a lot happens! Read more
Published on 20 April 2007 by H. Ashford
4.0 out of 5 stars The Idea of Perfection
Well, The Idea of Perfection, which won The Orange Prize in 2001, WAS a surprise. Having read Grenville's Booker 2006 shortlisted The Secret River a few weeks ago, I picked this up... Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2007 by Leyla Sanai
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