Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Book Club - The Perfect Man by Sheila O'Flanagan

This is the first novel I've read by Sheila O'Flanagan, and to be honest I didn't have particularly high expectations. I'd picked this book to read by the pool on holiday. All I wanted was something light-hearted and easy-to-read. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised. This novel surpassed my expectations.

The story follows sisters Mia and Britt as they venture on a cruise of the Caribbean. Complete opposites and never particularly close, their relationship is tested to the max as they learn new truths about themselves and each other. Mia, is a single mother and hopeless romantic and Britt is a divorced lawyer turned romantic novelist who doesn't believe in true love. On board, they meet Leo, who is struggling to move on from a previous heart-break and the ship's entertainment officer Steve, a relaxed gentleman who befriends both sisters. There is plenty of drama, but it is never depressing or too serious. And the plot kept me guessing till the very end. This novel is anything but predictable.

With likable characters, and original, detailed back stories, the novel achieved an unexpected level of depth. And I enjoyed how each character developed as the novel progressed. I must admit the story was rather slow starting, and I could imagine some may not have continued. But it is worth the wait. A few chapters in, the novel becomes a page turner, and I couldn't put it down.

Setting the majority of the novel in exotic locations created perfect opportunities for O'Flanagan to 'paint a picture'. I'm glad to say O'Flanagan did not go over the top with her descriptions. They were kept short and sweet, and therefore were effective without taking over the narrative.

The dialogue was natural and lively, and the move between different narrative viewpoints was smooth and refreshing.

Though a rather long read, and possibly not as enjoyable if you aren't sitting in the sunshine with a glass of wine in hand, this novel is humorous, lively and fun. It is, by no-means, a classic; but it is more intelligently written and plotted than the usual holiday read and fully recommended.

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