Many reviewers of Elizabeth Buchan's books compare her to fellow novelist Joanna Trollope and it seems that Buchan always comes off the worst in those comparisons. Elizabeth Buchan's writing is often muddled, going on and on about character's inner thoughts; She lacks Trollope's incisive sharpness and it doesn't make for a better book.
**Possible spoilers ahead**
Perfect Love explores the decision to commit adultery in a double betrayal: Not only is good-wife Prue cheating on her husband, she's cheating with her hated stepdaughter's husband. I know that sounds like a French 2 translation exercise, but the relationships are very convoluted.
As in the other Elizabeth Buchan book I read, Everything She Thought She Wanted, the two main female characters, Prue and Violet, are pretty unlikeable, so it's hard to relate to either one. They were both amazingly self-absorbed and I couldn't decide which woman was more tiresome. Was it the one who explored her every feeling with a microscope and seemed to feel that she and Joan of Arc were somehow soul sisters, or was it the one whose tunnel-vision committment to her own beauty and career was always solidly front and center?
Whichever woman you choose, you'll see right from the beginning that they're both ready to sacrifice everything to do what makes them feel good.
By the time the book ended with a sputter, I was so very ready for it to be over.
When it comes to getting inside a woman's head, heart, and soul, there is probably no one better than author Elizabeth Buchan. In this book the heroine, Prue Valour, is a 41-year-old woman who is married to Max, a man 20 years older than she is. At the beginning of their marriage, Max's daughter Violet gave Prue a lot of problems, so she is not pleased to hear that Violet, her husband Jamie, and baby Edward are coming for a protracted stay. Violet has not lost any of her waspish nature, and her husband Jamie begins to realize it as much as Prue. From this bit of shared experience comes a growing fondness between Jamie and Prue. Their feelings escalate and soon they are engaged in an affair. Another major character is Emmy, Edward's nanny, who is treated badly by Violet and who is pursued by an irresponsible man who eventually makes her pregnant. Buchan sifts these difficult elements with a deft hand and comes to some interesting conclusions. The weaknesses in the book are its slow pace and the attempt to compare Prue's situation with Joan of Arc whom she is researching for a book.
Elizabeth Buchan should be a runaway bestseller. Nobody creates living, breathing, flawed characters the way she does. She tells stories with depth and breadth. Violet is just abominable. Terrific character. Buchan is brilliant.
In Hampshire England, for the two decades that she has been married to sixty-years old Max Valour, Prue and her stepdaughter Violet have never gotten along with each other. Pleased with her marriage, Prue enjoys her current life raising their young child Jane and working on a Joan of Arc bio. However, her contented days end when Violet returns from living in the states. Accompanying Violet is her spouse James Beckett who is closer to Prue's forties than his spouse and an unwanted baby. James immediately finds himself attracted to the kind Prue, whom he considers a peer, unlike his much younger and obsessed wife. Prue finds in James a passion she has never known in her marriage. Though they both know this illicit affair is morally wrong, neither one of the lovers can stop committing adultery. However, what will happen when their mates, father and daughter, draw the obvious conclusion of what is occurring behind their backs. PERFECT LOVE is an honest look at extramarital relationships. The characters are all brilliantly designed so that readers can understand everyone's motives. The alternating between Prue and her research on Joan of Arc is for the most part enjoyable and intelligent, but at times does slow down the plot. Without lecturing or preaching, award winning Elizabeth Buchan provides a witty, sharp, but ugly examination of families after the loving seems burned to an unrecognizable crisp.
Fans of Joanna Trollope will love this book. It has the same understated yet highly evocative approach that the best British female authors seem to employ with ease. I found myself subtly but firmly drawn into the life of our heroine, Prue, to the point where I could almost feel her thoughts. We meet her somewhat aloof older husband, Max, her lovely daughter Jane (whose reaction to her dying pet rat will wring the heart of any mother), her horrid stepdaughter Violet, who hates her own baby, and Violet's charming husband Jamie. There is also Violet's naive yet streetwise erstwhile nanny, Emmy. All of these people are woven into Prue's daily life whether she wants it or not, as she struggles to write a book on her obsession, Joan of Arc! The quiet, understated humor, pathos, sympathy and sheer fine writing of this book make me want to read everything Buchan has written. I highly recommend this book.
This book is very slow and very boring! The writing is good but the characters are dull. It also moves at a ridiculous slow pace. At chapter nine I was ready to give up but kept going just because I hate not knowing the endings. Borrow this book from the library, don't bother to purchase a copy.