The Idea of Perfection
By Kate Grenville
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670030804, 415pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2002
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Published to great acclaim in Britain, Kate Grenville's fifth novel, The Idea of Perfection, recently won the Orange Prize, Britain's most valuable literary award. Set in the eccentric little backwater of Karakarook, New South Wales, pop. 1374, it tells the story of Douglas Cheesman, a shy, gawky engineer with jug-handle ears, and Harley Savage, a large, rawboned, plain woman who is a part-time museum curator. Harley has come to Karakarook to help the town build a heritage museum; Douglas is there to pull down the quaint old Bent Bridge, and from day one, they're on a collision course. Both characters carry a hidden cargo of guilt along with the memories of failed marriages, but out of this unpromising conjunction of opposites, something unexpected happens: something even better than perfection.
Elegantly and compassionately told, The Idea of Perfection is reminiscent of the work of Carol Shields, Peter Carey, and J.M. Coetzee and shows Kate Grenville as "a writer of extraordinary talent" (The New York Times Book Review).
Kate Grenville is one of Australia's best-known writers. Her novels include Lilian's Story and Albion's Story, which was a finalist for the Miles Franklin Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction.