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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Perfect Reader

Pouncey, Maggie.  Perfect Reader.

A debut novel and an ARC.

Flora Dempsey's father has died and left her as his literary executor.  Lewis Dempsey was a retired college president and literary critic "in the league of Harold Bloom" and his best-know work, Reader as Understander is one that Flora has never even read.

Nor has Flora bothered to read the poems that Lewis gave her, the real reason he wants her as his literary executor.  A child of divorced parents, Flora has unresolved feelings concerning their relationships and her childhood.

On discovering that the poems are rather erotic ones addressed to the new woman in his life, Flora's uncertainty increases.  She doesn't want to be in charge of her father's legacy and resents the woman who had become her father's muse.

In many ways the novel is interesting, although Flora is not a particularly sympathetic character.  She carries guilt from a childhood accident, but somehow it doesn't seem quite pertinent although it is obviously meant to be.

Another sticking point is the fact that the poems are not included or even much discussed.  Given the huge role they have in the plot, the failure to develop the concept bothers me; probably because I'm more interested in the literary aspect than the psychological one.

The writing and the pacing were uneven, but the novel held my attention. The "acknowledgements" that Flora added to the final publication of her father's poems was a high point, but I could have wished a more gradual transition to her reaching that plateau.

Fiction.  Psychological.  2010.  269 pages.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book. It is a shame that you did not find yourself completely satisfied with it because it really caught my attention. I gather it is not really worth getting excited over by the sound of it. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. :) Never take that for granted!

    Just because I found fault with the novel doesn't mean that another reader (a more "perfect reader," perhaps) might not love it. I've been chastised before for less than positive reviews by readers who loved a book. By the same token, I've loved books that other readers have criticized.

  3. This one is on my TBR stack so I'm looking forward to it. I'll have to let you know how it goes.