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Imperfect Strangers Paperback – June 10, 2014
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I understand Imperfect Stangers is Mr. Staniforth's first foray into the psychological suspense arena. He is to be commended for a very good first effort. I enjoyed the story.
The protagonist of Imperfect Strangers is a rather pitiful, socially-awkward man named Keith. Keith is also mentally ill, which was exacerbated mightily by his cruel and unloving mother who was almost assuredly also mentally ill. Keith, totally inexperienced with romance has become enamored with a beautiful woman in his work place named Sally. The story revolves around Keith's efforts to woo, in his inept way, Sally, and Sally's desire to be kindly but not romantic, with this good-hearted, but pathetic soul. The first half of the book is the setup. The character development of Keith is simply superb, and the reader gets a really good idea of why he is the way he is. I found myself really liking Keith and hoping for him to somehow achieve a modicum of happiness. During this part of the book a few other mostly interesting characters were introduced, but again, the meat of the story belonged to Keith and Sally.
The scenes with Keith and his mother and Keith's memories of his mother were heartbreaking and at times hard to read. Poor Keith! Despite these very dark passages, I have to admit I was laughing out loud not infrequently while reading this novel, responding to Mr. Staniforth's choices of words and phrasing. British colloquialism plus what I suspect was some original Staniforthisms delighted me, a citizen of the United States, and made for some great comic relief.
The major part of the suspense came in the last 20% of the book. This section got my heart beating and I couldn't put the book down for one second. I thought this was well done.
There were a couple things I did not like. The set up was a bit too long for me, especially the depiction of the relationship between Keith and his mother. The second issue is that I was disappointed that there was no epilogue. I think it is possible that the majority of readers will be satisfied with the ending as is, but I wanted more on what subsequently happened to Keith. I am still thinking about that a day and a half later. How did Keith make out? How about an epilogue in the 2nd edition, Mr. Staniforth.
Overall, I was certainly entertained by Imperfect Strangers. I recommend it to those interested in a very good character study with suspenseful undertones.
Imperfect Strangers - The title is apt. When does a person change from Stranger to somebody you know? How do you know that the person you think you know is the same all the time? Do you ever know a person completely? So many questions that David Staniforth made me ask myself while reading his debut novel.
The story of Keith is heartbreaking. What strikes you most in the book once you really get started is the bleakness of Keith's surroundings. Keith wants to be normal desperately, but does not know how. He tries hard, he really does, but years of being bullied has left him so socially awkward that he just does not know how to be in company of people.
Imperfect Strangers is the story of emotions. You can live through envy, greed, jealousy, anger, love, hatred with the characters in the book. There is literally a plethora of emotions running riot in the book. Staniforth does not talk or write about heros or do gooders, he writes about people, regular everyday people with their own hopes and aspirations about what their life should be. You can see the need in Keith, the hope for a good life and love in Sally.
It is an explosive debut from a great author. I know of David Staniforth from our common GoodReads group. Our interactions have always been funny, Imperfect Strangers came to me highly recommended from the other members of the group. Reading through the book has been a amazing experience, it takes you through a gamut of emotions. Once I finished the book, it was as if I had undergone a roller coaster ride of emotions. It was a emotional journey. Keith has some serious psychological problems, his childhood chaffing under a brutal parent has left some deep, very deep scars on him which he has been struggling to overcome all his life. Sally is a breath of fresh air in his life. He wants to give her a life she aspires to but him by her side.
Slowly she becomes his all consuming obsession, he wants to give her the perfect life. Even when his actions start becoming creepy you can feel his emotions, his almost desperate desire for Sally and his need to put his past to rest. Staniforth with his portrayal of Keith manages to keep you feeling sorry for him all through the book. Even when the book ends you feel sorry for Keith at the end.
Sally I have mixed thoughts about how I feel for her. While I liked her trying to bring Keith out of his shell and seeing him for more than the bumbling loser, I did not like the way she behaved with him around her peers or that she did it for him out of pity. She was always out there giving mixed signals about what she wanted from Keith.
I would recommend this book if you are looking for something very emotional and thrilling, it is a roller coaster experience of emotions and a must read in your library. My only peeve is there are some supporting characters whom I would have liked to see more of like Keith's elderly neighbor, Steve and Sally's niece who was the only person who could connect to Keith unconditionally.
A full 5 stars.
Most recent customer reviews
This is my second book by Mr Staniforth and surely it won't be the last, i gave it 5...Read more
Imperfect Strangers focuses on two characters, Keith and Sally. Keith, is in no uncertain terms, a stalker.Read more