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Perfect by Rachel Joyce

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Two friends, Byron and James, attend the same private school. In 1972 two seconds were added to time, something to do with a leap year and Earth’s movement. The boys become obsessed with this, Byron even admits to being terrified. Interspersed with their lives and tragedy within Byron’s family is a present day story of Jim, a man who has spent his life in and out of psychiatric hospitals. How these stories come together is immensely intriguing. On one side we have the tale of a dysfunctional family and the awful social straitjacket that existed in the 1970s and on the other the horrors of the mentally ill and the way we treat sufferers. It’s a powerful, upsetting tale, a big change from her excellent first novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

If you like Rachel Joyce you might also like to read books by Patricia Wood, Daniel Clay and Gavin Extence.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Perfect by Rachel Joyce

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 cafe, 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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'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)

About the Author

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her work has been translated into thirty-six languages. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 2012 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’ 2014. Rachel has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl..

Author photo © Justin Sutcliffe

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Book Info

Publication date

27th February 2014


Rachel Joyce

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Black Swan an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd


448 pages


Family Drama
Relationship Stories
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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