Perfections, by Kirstyn McDermottFebruary 28th, 2013 at 18:34
So far this year I’ve been pretty slack on the AWW front, and indeed in the reading books front at all. I blame it on Ford Madox Ford, who sucked me in with the possibility of Benedict Cumberbatch and made me read four books under the guise of being just one book that was so enormous that almost a month fell into it. And that was my experience reading Parade’s End.
Possibly it’s unfair to blame Ford Madox Ford for Benedict Cumberbatch, but then again we have to blame somebody, right?
In any case, I have officially just finished by first book by an Australian woman writer: Perfections, by Kirstyn McDermott. I’m pretty sure Kirstyn describes this one as a gothic fairytale, or something along those lines. I think I’d go for more of an ‘urban suspense’ line, though if it was in actual bookshops I would hope to see it with more of a Fay Weldon cover than anything with overt genre markers.
Oh, did I mention Fay Weldon? That’s probably because she came to mind while I was reading this novel – something about the realist, cynical tone and themes to do with women’s careers and quiet household despair mixed with sneaky supernatural, magic and horror bits. The tone also reminded me a great deal of Donna Tartt. I really hope Kirstyn reaches the wide audience she deserves with this one.
Antoinette and Jacqueline don’t have much in common beyond their overbearing mother and their shared dread of the Australian bush. Antoinette is a goth waitress who has just escaped a suffocating relationship after a terrible betrayal, and Jacqueline is a go-getting, elegant career-woman working for a major art gallery in the centre of Melbourne. One drunken, miserable night, Antoinette starts to write the story of her failed relationship, and wakes to discover that she performed a terrible, perfect act of what has to be magic.
At which point, her life and that of her sister both start unraveling rapidly, with revelation after revelation that threatens to destroy everything they love.
Perfections is a sharp, creepy and deeply discomfiting novel full of awkward truths and raw emotions.