really enjoyed this book. In essence it is about everyday life where
nothing much happens; yet it is also about all those important
'nothings' that together make up life as we know it.
written, The Idea of Perfection is set in a small country town
called Karakarook, situated somewhere in NSW, Australia. The people
are the ordinary people one would expect to meet in such an
environment. The town is definitely not perfect, and the people
living there are not perfect either. In fact, no one and nothing is
perfect, and yet everyone – even the town – is striving, on some
level, for perfection.
story concerns an old timber bridge that is slowly rotting away. The
powers that be in Sydney have decided that the bridge should be
replaced; the town's heritage society, intent on saving all things
old, wants to save the bridge as it is. Douglas is the engineer sent
from Sydney to do something about the bridge (preferably pull it down
and build a new one). Harley is a part-time consultant at the Sydney
Museum of Applied Arts, who finds herself in Karakarook setting up
the Karakarook Heritage Museum, and who gradually becomes entangled
in the controversy over the bridge.
the two main characters, Douglas and Harley, have pasts that forcibly
impact on their ideas of perfection, until they reach a point where
they are able to put their pasts behind them.
of the other characters, Felicity, is focused almost entirely on
attaining superficial personal perfection, while Freddy, the Chinese
butcher, oozing self-confidence and sex drive, believes that he has
already found it. Douglas, on the other hand, may lack Freddy's
self-confidence, and he may be hampered by the past, but he does have
an intuitive understanding of perfection. Even Harley, large, rough
and 'unbeautiful', has this understanding.
the end, it appears that perfection is the complete antithesis to
what Felicity is searching for in her jars of creams and
moisturizers. Instead, it is tied up with intangible things like the
unadulterated love Harley received from her grandmother, Douglas's
ability to completely prioritize another person's needs over his own
innate fears and, finally, the recognition of the innocent part a
patient dog can play in helping someone understand the essence of
life itself. Things that appear broken are not necessarily imperfect
– it is all a matter of perspective and a willingness to try new
tangents. Perfection may not necessarily be an attainable reality, it
may simply be an idea.
The photo of Kate Grenville is from www.abc.net.au