What they say: A thoughtful, captivating and ultimately uplifting novel from this uniquely talented author
Jasmine know two things: one, she loves her vulnerable sister unconditionally, and will fight to the death to protect her from anyone who upsets her. Two, she’s only ever been good at one thing – her job helping business start-ups.
So when she’s sacked and put on gardening leave, Jasmine realises that she has nothing else to fill her life. Insomnia keeps her staring out of her bedroom window, and she finds herself watching the antics of her neighbour, shock jock Matt, with more than a casual eye. Matt is also taking a forced leave of absence from work, after one of his controversial chat shows went too far…
Jasmine has every reason to dislike Matt, and the feeling appears to be mutual. But not everything is as it seems, and soon Jasmine and Matt are forced to think again…
To start, I’d like to draw your attention to is the cover. I read the paperback version and, on seeing the other lighter, brighter cover, was thrilled that I had this one. I can see why there were two possible covers as I suppose you could look on this book as a sombre book or an uplifting one. It could be telling that this was the one for me. (Note, coming into the time of year that’s in it, this particular cover and of course the book itself, will tick every box in terms of setting a cosy, autumnal/ wintery mood.)
The book, from the start, was atmospheric, the mood dark. The story of Jasmine, sacked from her job and not being able to take another for a year, trundled along slowly, pulling you along with it, until it was you that this was happening to, being driven by the fact that the light in your life had been muted, the driving force halted. Had this been a movie, I would assume that there would be some form of an odd noise in the background thoughout, had it been written differently, I have no doubt that noise would have given me a headache, thankfully it wasn’t. I loved this book. I don’t think any amount of gushing will do it justice, it was just the perfect mix of dark and brightness.
I read the book over a few nights, purely due to bad timing (it could easily be devoured in the space of twenty-four hours), but I’ll be honest, I looked forward to each night when I could pick it up and savoured every second. The street Jasmine gazed into every night reminded me of the street I was living on and so I became a curtain twitcher, which made me want to pull the book out again.
A central part of the book was how Jasmine watched Matt, a radio personality neighbor of hers who would arrive home late every night, drunk, loud and unapologetic for what he was putting his family and the street through.
I adored her relationship with Matt, probably one of the most unexpected things of the story, as Ms Ahern decided not to go the obvious way. Matt was a character very important on turning all of her pre-conceived notions on their head. I found him to be vivid and loud and honest and blunt and brilliant.
As for the other characters, the introduction of them in terms of her memories, were perfectly done, her cousin, her father, her mother. Her sister was so vibrant and beautiful and I loved how she surprised Jasmine. Jasmine’s neighbours appeared before my very eyes from the start and made me see the street properly. As for Jasmine herself, I loved her way of thinking and her smart sense of humour. The only thing was, the description I had in my head didn’t match up with the author’s, I think I had the image formed from page one. I possibly missed something, so I’m afraid I had a different girl peering through her windows at night to that dreamt up by other people, but I suppose that’s what books are for, we all have our own way of seeing things (I think the bloggers out there who can match an actor to a character in books have God given talents for this, it’s something I’d love to be able to do.)
The title of the book is perfections. As the pages turn we go through the seasons with some lovely descriptions on gardening (a nice touch considering the lead, Jasmine, is on gardening leave) with each one mirroring a change in both Jasmine and the people around her. Even just writing this I am still in awe that a single sentence on one of her neighbours, dropped casually into an aside made me cry so much.
I’ll be honest, I read a few of the reviews before I wrote this, not something I usually do, and a few were disappointed at where the build in tension took them. I wasn’t (all I can say without giving anything away).
A beautiful, captivating book that I have been recommending all around me since I read, there is no doubt in my mind as to why Ms. Ahern is where she is in terms of sales and popularity. Adored this. So much. My advice? Read it, preferably the way I did, in paperback, by lamplight, and at night time.