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Original Essays | September 18, 2014

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Perfect

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Perfect Cover

ISBN13: 9780812993301
ISBN10: 0812993306
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. The attempt to achieve perfection is central to both Diana’s and Byron’s behavior. Has the novel changed your perception of what it may mean to be ‘perfect’?

2. Rachel Joyce portrays time as a slippery and unpredictable concept. Has this affected your attitude towards the ways in which we measure the paths of our lives?

3. Responsibility is a theme that plays a key part in the novel. Who do you believe holds the greatest responsibility for the accident?

4. Is Jim’s mental illness the inevitable result of the events of his childhood?

5. Diana says, ‘I’m beginning to think chaos is underrated.’ Do you agree?

6. Byron identifies the moment at which he no longer considers himself to be a child. How does the novel question traditional definitions of childhood and parenthood?

7. Rachel Joyce writes beautiful descriptions of Cranham Moor and the English landscape. What is the significance of the natural world in the novel?

8. What is the significance of class in the relationship between Beverley and Diana?

9. Several characters struggle with depression and obsessive-compulsive behavior in the novel. How effectively do you feel mental disorders are portrayed?

10. Diana believes that the course of her life is determined by destiny. What part does spiritual belief play in the novel, and do you agree that our actions cannot influence our own fates?

11. Seymour and Andrea Lowe express strong views about feminism. How does Rachel Joyce represent the role of women in the novel?

12. How does Rachel Joyce represent the different time periods of the novel? Are there echoes from 1972 in the present or is it a world and time that has disappeared without trace?

13. Diana is lonely despite having a family and friends; Jim experiences intense loneliness. What do you think makes people feel connected to each other, and what creates fulfilling relationships?

14. Byron and James Lowe are best friends as boys, and the employees at Mr Meade’s café form bonds of kinship. How does Rachel Joyce represent friendship, and what do you think it means to be a true friend?

15. Who is the most powerful character in the novel, and why?

16. Eileen and Jim are damaged, in different ways, by their pasts. To what extent do you feel their private pain is transformed through the act of sharing?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

The Lost Entwife, April 13, 2014 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
Rachel Joyce has been on my radar for a while now. I remember the first time I saw the cover of her first book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - I was completely smitten with it. In fact, I fell in love with it so much that I have yet to pick up the book for fear that it won't live up to the cover. But then, I picked up Perfect, excited to see it offered by NetGalley, and I was immediately sucked into the story. The premise: two boys in 1972 and a problem with time, appealed to me and I couldn't wait to find out what exactly the big mystery was.story of the story as well as the modern day problems of Jim. I sympathized with the boys and wondered just when the mystery surrounding James would be completely revealed. I was, frankly, obsessed. I stayed up late to find out just what would happen and I will say that it was totally worth the reveal.

I have to say that I thoroughly admire Joyce's way of weaving a web of a story. I was captured completely by both the history of the story as well as the modern day problems of Jim. I sympathized with the boys and wondered just when the mystery surrounding James would be completely revealed. I was, frankly, obsessed. I stayed up late to find out just what would happen and I will say that it was totally worth the reveal.
What I found most interesting, however, was Joyce's treatment of differences. I loved how sensitive she was when dealing with a modern-day Jim, and how patient she was in telling the back-story of Byron and James. I will admit to being a bit frustrated, at times, at the leisurely path the story took to get to the ending, but I wasn't disappointed. I do want to say, however, that if you are looking for an ending that will make you gasp out loud and exclaim about how crazy good this book is, you may not find it here. Instead, what I experienced was a deep sense of satisfaction when I closed the book.

I have to say that if a book moved a bit slowly at times is the only criticism I can make, then I have to say that Perfect by Rachel Joyce is just nearly ... well, perfect. I would recommend this story to any that feel as if they need to explore the quieter, but just as desperate, side of life.
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bugzna2000, January 23, 2014 (view all comments by bugzna2000)
This is a unique novel that follows parallel stories of Byron and James, two mentally challenged individuals and friends. Characters are flawed, quirky and have peculiar illusions of reality and truth ��" but they are for the most part, very likeable. A great follow-up effort by the author of the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. It is both heartbreaking and compelling. Well done.
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The Loopy Librarian, October 30, 2013 (view all comments by The Loopy Librarian)
Wow!! If I had the final print instead of an uncorrected proof, I'd be quoting this book left and right. It is so beautifully written. The imagery is striking; the observations are witty or profound or both, and the characters are precisely drawn right down to the buttons on their clothes. Even the setting, the moors, is vital to the story. The author makes outstanding use of personification. Everything is animated. Time, in particular, becomes a living, breathing entity that appears to willfully disrupt and destroy. Who or what is to blame for the accident that changes everything? That central question defines this mesmerizing story. The end has a twist and a glimmer of hope. I highly recommend Perfect for fans of literary fiction. The characters and their story will remain with you long after you've turned the final page.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note that I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780812993301
Author:
Joyce, Rachel
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
Literature-Family Life
Publication Date:
20140114
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8.59 x 5.78 x 1.17 in 1.2 lb

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Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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Perfect Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$17.50 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Random House - English 9780812993301 Reviews:
"Review" by , Perfect is a poignant and powerful book, rich with empathy and charged with beautiful, atmospheric writing.”
"Review" by , “[Rachel] Joyce, showing the same talent for adroit plot development seen in the bestselling The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, brings both narrative strands together in a shocking, redemptive denouement.”
"Review" by , “[Perfect’s] unputdownable factor...lies in its exploration of so many multilayered emotions. There is the unbreakable bond between mother and son, the fear of not belonging...and how love can offer redemption.”
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