Tuesday 31 August 2010

Recommended to me

Finished August 29
The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville
On a recent visit to B.C. a very knowledgeable clerk in Tanner's recommended a couple of books to me. We'd had a short yet interesting conversation and I bought two books on her recommendation. This is one of them.
I'd read Kate Grenville before, but liked this one even better than the other I'd read.
Set in the little town of Karakarook, New South Wales, this follows three characters: two visitors and one who lives there.
Douglas Cheeseman is an unprepossessing middle-aged man who is in town as the on-site engineer to replace an aging and damaged bridge, known as the Bent Bridge. Douglas is recently divorced and is aware that his wife found him boring. He also suffers from vertigo, an interesting ailment for a bridge engineer. He is also fascinated by concrete.
Also visiting Karakarook is Harley Savage. Harley was born into an artistic family whom her lack of art skills disappointed. She has had three husbands, and isn't looking for any relationships. Harley is in town to help setup a Heritage Museum, on loan from the National Museum of Applied Arts. She is also a textile artist, who specializes in vernacular interpretations. She is a large woman, uncomfortable in social situations.
The third character is Felicity Porcelline who is obsessed by perfection, in her person, her home, and her life. She worries about wrinkles and cleanliness. She moves in the community, yet set apart from the others. Even when directly interacting with other people, Felicity is obsessed by her own actions and appearance.
The theme indicated by the title is an interesting one. Felicity is in constant pursuit of perfection, yet within she is a very flawed woman. Harley and Douglas are very aware of their flaws, physical and social, and yet find that those very flaws give them strength.
I loved the characters and seeing what was going on within them here. Definitely a great read.

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