Book Review: Perfect Reader – Maggie Pouncey

Title: Perfect Reader: A Novel
Author: Maggie Pouncey
ISBN: 9780307378743
Pages: 288
Release Date: June 15, 2010
Publisher: Pantheon
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

When Flora Dempsey’s father dies, she returns to her hometown in order to settle his will and understand what exactly being his literary executor means.  Her father was the former president of Darwin College, so he was famous in the community.  Flora feels ambivalent about returning and facing the ghosts of her past, and is surprised to discover facets of her father’s life she knew nothing about.

Review:

I love academic settings for books, so I jumped at the chance to read Perfect Reader.  (Plus, as an avid reader, how could I not be captured by that title?)  Pouncey’s descriptions and atmospheric portrayal of the college town were simply wonderful.  The reader could smell the musty books in the library, taste the strength of the coffee at the local campus coffee shop.  Additionally, Pouncey really gave the reader a sense of the somewhat claustrophobic nature of a small college town.  Even if something is your private business, chances are, everyone is going to know what it is by the end of the day.

The focus of Perfect Reader is on relationships and how complicated they can be.  Part of the book consists of flashbacks to times when Flora’s father was still alive.  Through these glimpses into her past, the reader can really get a sense of what her father was like, and what the nature of their connection was.  Additionally, Pouncey depicts Flora’s friendship with a local girl, Georgia, and how it shaped Flora.  These relationships are key to understanding Flora as she is today.

Though I did enjoy Perfect Reader, I had a little trouble with Flora.  She wasn’t developed well enough for my tastes, and as a result I had trouble connecting with her.  Since this is a character driven novel, that made the book languish at times.  I did like her and I was invested in her story.  I just would have appreciated more of an emotional connection with her.

Perfect Reader was a solid novel that I enjoyed, despite my hesitations about Flora.  The academic setting and Flora’s quest to be the perfect reader for her father’s poems are wonderful aspects of the book.  Fans of lighter literary fiction and books set in academia should consider this book.

Comments

  1. I have read quite a few books with academic settings in the past few months, so this one looks good to me, although the fact the the main character is underdeveloped does niggle a little. Thanks for you honest thoughts in this review. I will have to do some considering on this book.

  2. I have read quite a few books with academic settings in the past few months, so this one looks good to me, although the fact the the main character is underdeveloped does niggle a little. Thanks for you honest thoughts in this review. I will have to do some considering on this book.

  3. I do love an academic setting too, so this sounds good to me.

  4. I do love an academic setting too, so this sounds good to me.

  5. Love that cover! Anything with red really grabs my attention. Novels set in an academic setting are definitely interesting to me, too, though I’m not sure I’d be thrilled with Flora’s apparent lack of character development. Literary fiction only flourishes when we emotionally connect with characters — especially the main character.

  6. Love that cover! Anything with red really grabs my attention. Novels set in an academic setting are definitely interesting to me, too, though I’m not sure I’d be thrilled with Flora’s apparent lack of character development. Literary fiction only flourishes when we emotionally connect with characters — especially the main character.

  7. Hi Swapna,

    I enjoy your reviews so much. I have awarded you Beautiful Blogger award, and you can collect it here at http://bookslinksandmore.blogspot.com/2010/07/beautiful-blogger-award.html

    Thank you for sharing your passion for books and your wonderful reviews here. My daughter would love to find some fun literature here for her reading pleasure.

    Subadra
    http://bookslinksandmore.blogspot.com/

  8. Hi Swapna,

    I enjoy your reviews so much. I have awarded you Beautiful Blogger award, and you can collect it here at http://bookslinksandmore.blogspot.com/2010/07/beautiful-blogger-award.html

    Thank you for sharing your passion for books and your wonderful reviews here. My daughter would love to find some fun literature here for her reading pleasure.

    Subadra
    http://bookslinksandmore.blogspot.com/

  9. Shelley says:

    Hi all,
    I love academic settings too. I recently read the Joanne Rendell books (Professors Wives Club and Crossing Washington Square) after reading the reviews on this blog. I wonder if others have other suggestions, given others say how they love them, too? Thank you!

  10. Shelley says:

    Hi all,
    I love academic settings too. I recently read the Joanne Rendell books (Professors Wives Club and Crossing Washington Square) after reading the reviews on this blog. I wonder if others have other suggestions, given others say how they love them, too? Thank you!

  11. How did I miss this one? This is the first I’ve heard of the novel and I bet I would really like it, despite the flaws.

  12. How did I miss this one? This is the first I’ve heard of the novel and I bet I would really like it, despite the flaws.

  13. I do enjoy a novel with an academic setting. I’m a bit hesitant, but I think I’ll give it a try.

  14. I do enjoy a novel with an academic setting. I’m a bit hesitant, but I think I’ll give it a try.

  15. I love a book that has a great sense of place. Sometimes, that can really drive a book from good to amazing. While I’m sure that this book has some flaws, it sounds incredibly captivating with its academic grounding. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for this one.

  16. I love a book that has a great sense of place. Sometimes, that can really drive a book from good to amazing. While I’m sure that this book has some flaws, it sounds incredibly captivating with its academic grounding. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for this one.

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