Tuesday, May 18, 2010

65 - Perfect Reader; Maggie Pouncey

Perfect Reader; Maggie Pouncey

In this terrific debut novel, Flora Dempsey is the only child of a former college president and literary critic. As a little girl, Flora idolized her father, but when her parents divorced, her feelings towards him changed. Now she is off living working in the big city. When Flora learns that her father has died, she is shocked. She impulsively quits her job, and she decides to move back to her childhood New England home, in the fictional town of Darwin (which I suspect is the college town of Amherst, MA).

The story flashes from past to present as Flora tries to reconcile her unhappy past and her relationship with her now decreased father. As she begins the process of sorting through her father's possessions, buried memories resurface. She realizes that she had never accepted her parents divorce some twenty years earlier. Each memory, each piece of paper, love poems discovered, and other literary works she sifts through reopens old wounds, and leads to stunning revelations for Flora.

I liked this debut novel, but Flora Dempsey is not a character that all readers will be able to relate to. She is flawed. Well educated, she has led a life of privilege, yet she is miserable and self-absorbed. Despite this, I was able to see where Flora was coming from, and as I read more and more, I actually cheered her on a bit. She was a lonely woman, coming to terms with the loss of a parent. A very introspective sort of novel,  Perfect Reader is a well written debut novel, about love, loss and acceptance.

RECOMMENDED- 4/5 stars - Review Copy


  1. I wonder if people ever get over it when their parents divorce. Sounds like a book that would make me think. Thanks for your review.

  2. I like the bits about the love, loss and acceptance.... sounds a good book.

  3. Not sure if I would be able to enjoy this book, due to the flaws of the main character, though the premise does sound interesting. I think Kathy's question is a good one also. I think that to some degree, people whose parents get divorced always harbor a bit of resentment and sadness.

  4. My parents are divorced so I would have some idea of how it affected me and my siblings.

  5. I was divorced when my children were just 5 and 7, and can say that they were affected by divorce, even though they saw their father a few times a month. I did remarry but not until they were older.

    Me on the other hand lived a childhood with parents who NEVER divorced but had a truly dysfunctional marriage, and I suffered as a result as well.

    So what is the answer? I was always envious of those who had a normal childhood, but we can't go back so we do the best we can with the cards we were dealt right??

  6. I'm thankful that my parents stayed married ... I can't imagine having to experience that. And I'm OK with an unlikable main character if the writing is good!

  7. Like Jenners, I don't mind a character I don't especially like if the writing is good and the story is compelling enough. I would imagine divorce would be hard on everyone involved, especially for a child.

  8. I hadn't heard of this before but will definitely be adding it to my wishlist.


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