The Perfect Present by Karen Swan
|The Perfect Present by Karen Swan|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: It’s not about their shaky past, or their unknown future, it’s about the perfect present. A sweet if a bit prolonged delve into the lives of an intriguing woman and the equally interesting woman who is commissioned to make a bespoke piece of jewelry for her. Very readable.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 500||Date: October 2012|
What do you buy for the woman who has everything? Rob Blake thinks he has it cracked when he commissions a piece of jewellery for his wife Cat’s birthday. But this is no ordinary necklace. The bespoke bling will be like nothing she’s seen before, because he is paying the designer, Laura, a small fortune to dedicate all her time to it. She will interview Cat’s nearest and dearest, and design a charm that tells the story of each relationship.
You’d be forgiven for mistakenly thinking this is Cat’s story. And in fact I was surprised by how little it really has to do with her, despite the premise of her life story. Instead, this is all about Laura, the jeweller with a past, a woman who is clearly not what she seems. Which is a bit of a shame because given the choice, I think I’d befriend Cat over Laura any day. By the time we discover why Laura is the way she is it’s a bit late for you to warm to her, whereas Cat is the opposite, someone you grow fond of before you discover her dirty little secrets, by which point she’s like an old friend and you can’t just dump an old friend because you’ve discovered some surprises about her past, can you?
There are stories within stories in this book, both those you would expect (Cat and her friends; Cat and her exes; Cat and her family) and those you wouldn’t (who knew Laura’s family would matter?) There are lots of characters too, both from Cat’s life and Laura’s, and it’s not always clear how they interact with each other when they first pop up, though things get explained over time.
The book goes on, and on, and at over 500 pages I found it a little long for the genre, despite having a good crack at it on a plane, my long favoured reading spot. The highlights for me were Verbier, and the party for Cat’s birthday, these being the places where most of the action happened, and the truth surfaced. I thought the suspense was done well and there was lots of it, though in a mildly mysterious way rather than a thoroughly thrilling one. Laura has lots of secrets, and I was correct to be confident that these would surface over time, from the reasons behind her red-shoe obsession to her friendship with Fee and her ‘episodes’. I also appreciated the way the charms were kept hidden from the reader the way they were from Cat and indeed Rob. It would have been reasonable enough to disclose them as the interviews went on, but having a big reveal at the end was a satisfying conclusion.
I enjoyed this book but I felt not all of the characters stayed, well, in character throughout. Episodes of drugs and adultery seemed out of place, and I found it hard to believe all the elements of Laura’s past. Relationships are forged and then altered too quickly, and Rob seemed a bit too quick at switching to Mr Nice Guy from Mr Nasty. If I could change one thing, it would be the descriptions of the charms, because I found it really hard to imagine the quality of the designs being talked about. I knew they must be impressive given how much people were willing to pay, but I just couldn’t see them in my mind, which was a shame as they’re like another character in this book.
This aside, it was a good, sink your teeth into read. I might have personally had fewer charms, so fewer stories and fewer characters, but in the end I feel they pulled it off. Rob and Cat don’t have a perfect relationship, but that makes it more readable and believable, and the charm necklace idea brings it all together nicely. It’s not about their shaky past, or their unknown future, it’s about the perfect present.
Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Perfect Present by Karen Swan at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Perfect Present by Karen Swan at Amazon.com.
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