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Picture Perfect
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on 14 July 2013
I have read a fair number of Jodi Picoult books now and usually speak highly of them. I enjoy the depth, clarity, moral debating that Picoult is renowned for, finding her books both interesting and well developed, in regards to both the characters and plot. With this in mind I decided to work my way through the rest of the books she has written, one of which being `Picture Perfect'. I'm afraid to say this isn't one of those books that falls into the above category.

Cassie finds herself alone in a grave yard with a nasty head injury and no memories. As she tries to find help she meets Will, a soon to be cop, who is knew to town. Will takes Cassie to his home and attempts to help her piece together her life. We discover that Cassie is a well established anthropologist and is married to the LA movie star Alex Rivers. It all seems picture perfect, so Cassie returns to her life. As the memories continue to return sporadically, Cassie slow begins to realise who Alex Rivers truly is: perfect, idolised movie star to the world, troubled, abusive husband in reality. Heart-brakingly, Cassie stays with Alex, seeing his damaged parts and wishing to fix them, believing her actions could stop his abusive tirade. When Cassie's world changes for the second time, she realises she cannot let Alex's behaviour destroy it again. At first she believes this would be the key to changing Alex, that it would be picture perfect now. However, it doesn't turn out that way. In one final act of strength and bravery Cassie stands up to Alex in the public eye, showing the world exactly who he is, absolving herself of fear and blame.

This is one of Picoult's earlier novels (her second I think) so although it shares the same writing style she is renowned for in her more publicised books, it seems to lack the depth I'm used to from her. Her style of writing is easy to digest, accessible and leaves you wanting to continue reading, always a good sign from my point of view. I also enjoyed the way Picoult delivered the story line, starting with Cassie waking up with amnesia, progressing forward with both the present and flashbacks to the past, until both merge into Cassie's final decision.

On a positive note, Picoult's characters were interesting and well developed, with contrasting elements: Cassie, a successful academic, with a strong career and fierce independence, was also a submissive, inferior, self blaming individual; Alex, an adoring, handsome, sought-after public figure, was also an aggressive, angry, abusive partner. I enjoyed the way Picoult portrayed the conflicting emotions of an abused partner, explaining the difficulties, hopes and belief systems well. She explores the difficulties faced within an abusive relationship with clarity giving an understanding around the complex issues. I particularly liked that Picoult gave reasoning behind Cassie staying and investing in Alex, by delving into her past and the traumas she faced there.

However, there seemed to be scope for so much more. Given the plot, an abused wife with a larger than life husband with a reputation to match, I felt Picoult could have delved into the emotional side of it so much more. Instead, it felt as though she stuck to the superficial side of the plot. Picoult seems to skim over Cassie remembering the reason why she left Alex in the first place. In my opinion going through something as devastating as that (vague to avoid spoilers!), she would feel more than the sweeping overview Picoult gives. In reality this would have a huge impact on a person's life where as this in the book, this piece of the story just wasn't given the time it required. There were other elements I felt Picoult failed to address fully too. For example, Will fell for Cassie from the start, yet we barely explore his feelings. Cassie also had `some' feelings for Will but those aren't really explained either. The addition of Will's Native American background added an interesting element to the book but again, I found I wanted more.

With this in mind, it was disappointing that Picoult missed a few essential points. Given the plot outline, this story could have been placed with Picoult's other classics, instead I would only recommend this book if you're looking for an easy read to fill a gap.
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VINE VOICEon 1 November 2010
Set in 1990's Los Angeles, Cassie wakes up in a graveyard, unsure of who she is and how she ended up there. Police officer, Will Flying Horse, rescues her and with the help of her husband, Hollywood heartthrob Alex Rivers, Cassie gradually begins to piece together the events of her life. To the outside world Cassie and Will have the perfect life but behind the cameras their life isn't all glitz and glamour. Jodi Picoult paints a picture of two flawed human beings in Alex and Cassie and their love and need for each other. As her memory returns, will Cassie stay with her abusive, damaged husband or will she turn to Will and his simple Native American culture?

This is one of Picoult's earlier books and she cleverly combines Alex's showbiz lifestyle with Cassie's anthropological career intertwined with Indian legends. Whilst there are no lawsuits or courtroom drama, the decisions to be made by Cassie, Alex and Will had me hooked. The characters are all so carefully drawn with many shades of grey that I was rooting for all of them. Overall it is definitely worth reading and whilst it isn't one of my favourite Picoult novels, it certainly adds to her notable back catalogue.
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on 7 June 2014
I have been reading Picoult for some years now and have always looked forward to her new works. However, the last two or three have been rather disappointing to be honest. I read this to the end and, as always, her research is faultless and her writing flawless, but I found myself wishing it would just get on with it. I miss the stories that had the gripping courtroom battle at the conclusion and have found the most recent books rather dull by comparison.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 March 2013
I have read and enjoyed most of Jodi Picoult's books but had not got around to this one. When I saw it offered as a Kindle deal I thought now was as good a time as any. Jodi Picoult writes characters very well and this book is no exception, the main characters Cassie, Alex and Will all seemed real to me. I enjoyed the story although I have always liked her "Courtroom Drama" books best of all.

If you are a fan and you have not read it yet you will enjoy it although personally I was hoping for a better ending.
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on 8 September 2014
this book was a little boring and doesnt address a few odd questions like why no one at police station etc recognizes a wife of a famous movie star &why dont they investigate her assault but i stayed with it as i wanted to know what happened and how the situation would change but unfortunately for me it wasnt the ending I'd hoped or wanted & has left me worse off as the characters did become real, So much like other picoult books they will remain in my head awhile after, but extremely disappointed that Ms Picoult didnt make something better with the ending,almost like she got bored of the characters &just finished !!
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on 6 March 2011
I personally feel this is one of Jodi Picoult's best books. In her depiction of an abusive maariage, she shows real insight into the complexity of the subject. Cassie and Alex are believable characters who I came to care for. While I couldn't condone Alex's behaviour towards Cassie, Picoult delves beneath the surface to describe the life events that influenced his behaviour - and also with Cassie, and why she felt as she did, and found it so difficult to walk away. Anyone who has has any insight into domestic abuse will recognise just how accurate Picoult is her drawing of the charatcters and the unfolding of the story.

There have been mixed reviews. I feel this is a very mature, emotive book and it has stayed with after finishing it. It's also nice to see Picoult change from her courtroom themed books. I'd highly recommend it - one of her best!
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on 17 February 2013
The subject matter is interesting and Picoult does try to do a difficult thing in showing the perpetrator of domestic violence as a 'sympathetic' character, a bit more of a three dimensional character than the normal portrayal. However, the 'Hollywood' aspects of this disappointed me. He had to be the hottest actor around, she a highly regarded worker in her field and beautiful but doesn't know it of course - a bit cliched for me. I can see the appeal of the story world being 'big', but to me it undermined what Picoult had to say about the characters and situation. I liked the archaeology setting and found that world all very interesting. Picoult writes extremely well and brought this to life in a convincing way. It's an interesting structure too. So much good to say, but let down by the over glamorising of the protagonists' lives for me. Maybe you'll love that though, it's personal.
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on 8 June 2013
The book set in the midst of the American film industry and also on an archaeological dig in Africa, tells the story of the relationship between a film director who meets the archaeologist whilst filming in the area where she is working on the dig. It tells the story of their relationship development, and all is not as it should be.
This is a good read, no great depth but Jodi Picoult fans would enjoy it. I would recommend it as a holiday read
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on 26 October 2015
Jodie's usual clear sighted insight into a difficult "issue" but I didn't engage with the characters and found the story skipped over the parts that really interested me - life on the reservation.
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on 17 March 2015
Definitely the most disappointing Jodi Picoult book I've ever read. I can't believe she wrote it - it reads like a Hollywood chick-lit novel with some rather boring bits about archaeological digs thrown in. If you enjoy reading glossy magazines about celebrities, then you'll most likely love it. If you are expecting the high standard of writing found in most of her other books, then I suggest you leave this book well alone.
As another reviewer commented, the only good part was the end, for more reasons than one.
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