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