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The Perfectionists Paperback – January 30, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (January 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345392698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345392695
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,175,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"REAL ARTISTRY...A FINELY CRAFTED AND ABSORBING NOVEL."
--Los Angeles Times
Dane is an American magazine journalist, and John, a British psychotherapist. He says he knows everything about her, how she thinks, what she wants from life. Under the force of his certainty, Dane marries John and takes up the care of his silent three-year-old son, Robin.
They go on vacation to Majorca to try to become a family, but ten months into their marriage Dane finds herself growing more and more distant from John, impatient with his endless analysis of their relationship, and repulsed by his clumsy attempts at understanding. As ever, Robin's silence hangs constantly between them, a symbol of pure anger and hate. As the two weeks stretch on forever, Dane grows closer to a decision she can't quite make, and Robin sits silently in the middle, a reminder to her of all she cannot control....
"This is so skillfully in the classical tradition, and at the same time so accurate on the old Adam and Eve battle. I thought the British psychiatrist an only too convincing male monster."
--John Fowles
"A tense, tight, erotic book, complete with highly dramatic scenes, in an unembarrassed, uncluttered manner."
--The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Original in its situation, astute in its insight, and quite impeccably styled."
--Kirkus Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on November 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This beautifully written, insightful novel focuses on a woman's struggle to understand herself and her marriage during a two week vacation in Majorca. Dane, a journalist, has been married to John, a psychotherapist, for less than a year. Dane describes their marriage as "difficult" in the sense of "challenging." Indeed, it would be a challenge to be married to John, or even to be his friend, for John is constantly analyzing his life and the lives of others. John is given to badgering Dane for "a moment of shared truth" and saying things like "Don't attack the tender shoots of me." John wants Dane to know all of him while Dane wants John to display his attractive qualities while keeping the inner mess to himself (John thinks of the mess as "the natural disorder that precedes growth"). John intellectualizes life until he drains it of vitality, even as he complains that Dane isn't fully experiencing their shared moments. Dane thinks of her marriage as a spaceship carrying them to a destination she cannot yet envision and sometimes she feels that way, while most of the time she feels frustrated with her genius husband. She relies on fantasy and her own resources to have a satisfying time with him in bed.

Joining them on vacation are John's obstinately silent son Robin, the product of a failed relationship with a doctor who broke up with John soon after giving birth, and Penelope, one of John's patients. Dane has the same conflicted feelings about Robin that she has about John. Sometimes she sees him as an all-knowing, mysterious wonder; other times she harbors malevolent thoughts about him and fantasizes about abusing him.

Godwin's writing style is precise, her characters are unique, and her ideas are powerful. This novel deserves a wider audience. I would give it 4 1/2 stars if Amazon offered that option.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not Ms Godwin's best. I was disappointed by this novel. I have read, I think, all of Gail Godwin's novels; I have to admit that I struggled to finish this one Thankfully it was relatively short. The writing was, as always, good, the characters and plot, however were just not to my liking. I found myself not liking the main characters, in fact pretty much repelled by them. The plot? It was just not much there at all. I'll continue to read her works of course, I like her as an author, just didn't care for this particular book.
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More About the Author

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including Unfinished Desires, A Mother and Two Daughters, Violet Clay, Father Melancholy's Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband, and Evenings at Five. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961--1963, the first of two volumes, edited by Rob Neufeld. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has written libretti for ten musical works with the composer Robert Starer. She lives in Woodstock, New York.


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