Book­shelf

Friday - - Leisure -

Bri­tish writer An­neMarie Casey’s de­but novel ex­am­ines the lives of four women liv­ing in Man­hat­tan, all in or ap­proach­ing their 40s. While each of them is mar­ried with young chil­dren, they’re all at dif­fer­ent points on the scale of mar­i­tal bliss.

Cen­tral char­ac­ter Lucy is forced to swap her posh life in Lon­don for a cramped apart­ment in New York af­ter her hus­band loses his job and is of­fered a lowly po­si­tion in the US. There she meets worka­holic scriptwriter Ju­lia, who’s been scorned by her old life af­ter walk­ing out on her hus­band and Mid­dle Eng­land, 1972, a leap year, two ex­tra sec­onds were added to time. While this prob­a­bly seemed in­signif­i­cant to most, pass­ing un­no­ticed, for 11-year-old school friends By­ron and James, it’s a ter­ri­fy­ing prospect.

When you mess with time, mis­takes hap­pen. At least, that’s how it seems to By­ron and James and, de­spite their ef­forts, the spi­ralling con­se­quences are be­yond their con­trol.

For any­body who read Rachel Joyce’s de­but, The Un­likely Pil­grim­age Of Harold Fry – which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize – Per­fect would have been highly an­tic­i­pated. Claire Cof­fey hasn’t had a good few months. She has split up with her fi­ancé and, in an at­tempt to re­main liv­ing in the New York apart­ment she loves, has also got her­self into debt.

And so, aged nearly 30, she finds her­self in that po­si­tion not un­usual in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial cli­mate – an adult liv­ing back at home with her mum, Weezy, dad, Will, and sis­ter, Martha, who has so­cial dif­fi­cul­ties and has never moved away from home. Soon enough, Claire’s brother Max also moves home. It’s a busy house.

This is the story of a chal­leng­ing year for the Cof­feys. There are

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