Rachel Joyce. Random House, $25 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9330-1
An 11-year-old boy makes an error that brings tragedy to several lives, including his own, in Joyce’s intriguing and suspenseful novel. One summer day in a small English village in 1972, Byron Hemmings’s mother, Diana, is driving him and his younger sister to school when their Jaguar hits a little girl on a red bicycle. Diana drives on, unaware, with only Byron having seen the accident. Byron doesn’t know whether or not the girl was killed, however, and concocts a plan called “Operation Perfect” to shield his mother from what happened. Previously, she has always presented the picture of domestic perfection in trying to please her martinet banker husband, Seymour, and overcome her lower-class origins. After Byron decides to tell her the truth about the accident, she feverishly attempts to make amends by befriending the injured girl’s mother, but her “perfect” facade begins to splinter. Joyce sometimes strains credibility in describing Diana’s psychological deterioration, but the novel’s fast pacing keeps things tense. Meanwhile, in alternate chapters, Jim, a psychologically fragile man in his 50s, endures a menial cafe job. 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 (albeit weepily sentimental) denouement. The novel is already a bestseller in England. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/16/2013
Release date: 01/07/2014
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Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-8129-9900-6
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Hardcover - 400 pages - 978-0-385-67772-1
Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4464-8865-2
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Hardcover - 545 pages - 978-1-4104-6733-1
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Hardcover - 444 pages - 978-0-552-77810-7
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Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-0-85752-067-8
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-0-85752-066-1
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