The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

I write this review as I take a break from reading what can only be described as a ‘shitload’ of books in a very short of time (currently averaging one every four hours on a weekend) so the irony of what I’m about to write is not lost on me.

 

Sometimes, very rare times, I just don’t feel like reading – when that happens, it takes me a moment to recognise it and I start trying to read several books, giving each one up for petty reasons.

 

The print is too small.

I don’t like the way the paper feels in my hand.

That’s a stupid way to spell that name.

 

Often, when this happens, that’s it. The book is ruined for me, and I rarely go back to it. Hey, there are plenty of other books in the world to try out.

 

I want to use this post to remind myself – and to urge everyone else – that books deserve a second chance, if it’s my own bad mood that stopped me from reading them.

 

I recently asked someone for a reading recommendation and they told me to give The Perfect Girlfriend a try. It was sitting on my table, in my not-quite-discarded pile. It was the victim of a night in early January when I just couldn’t concentrate.

 

Looking at it now, I can’t work out what it was that put me off – likely the fact that it was a proof copy and the print wasn’t quite parallel to the bottom of the page. I gave it another go. And I’m glad I did.

 

We meet Juliette, an air hostess who has recently split up with her partner. She’s determined to get him back, so much so that she’s got a job for the airline he’s a pilot for, and is secretly letting herself into his flat while he’s away to leave him presents.

 

At first – I totally identified with her. I mean, who hasn’t had an errant thought about doing something completely stalker-y when finding themselves infatuated with someone else? Hollywood has conditioned us that romance happens all the time.

 

If we turn up at their workplace during the day with a single red rose, music will swell, and they’ll carry us off into the sunset. If we send them a present, their favourite bottle of wine, they’ll see we really do care about them and again, those strings will start up…

 

The trouble with Juliette is… she does it. And at first, I thought, yeah, fair enough, let’s see how it goes – Clue: not well – but then things progress to the point where even I – yes EVEN I – started to think “Juliette, really?”

 

Still, despite her increasingly desperate attempts to get Nate back into her life, it’s not hard to sympathise with her, even when things become more and more criminal.

 

That big pile of books I alluded to in my opening? A number of them have good guys as protagonists and they’re so… unlikeable.

 

Juliette, on the other hand is well-written, but definitely not the good guy. Still, I can’t help but root for her a little bit. Hopefully that’s a result of the excellent writing – rather than a particular peculiarity to do with my own psychology.

 

What’s the moral of this blog post?

 

Sometimes we should give things a second chance, because it might be our fault they didn’t work out… contrarily the moral of The Perfect Girlfriend is quite the opposite – sometimes things don’t work out because the other person is just mentally and emotionally not able.

 

The Perfect Girlfriend is available now in Hardback from Wildfire