Cover image for Perfect love
Perfect love
Buchan, Elizabeth.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
438 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"Thomas Dunne books."
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Pinpointing the battleground of the modern marriage, Buchan offers a blisteringly truthful, yet tenderly observed account of the extraordinary compromises that are struck between people who love each other. After 20 years of marriage to the older widower Max, Prue has experienced the stresses not only of motherhood but of a resentful and unforgiving stepdaughter. When the stepdaughter returns with her new husband from New York, Prue is suddenly thrown into a new and secret life. She traces the boundaries between innocence and difficult knowledge, between the gluttony and surrender of desire and the stark realities that result.

Author Notes

Elizabeth Buchan was born in Guildford, Surrey, England. She attended the University of Kent at Canterbury in the 1970's and earned a double degree in English and History. She began working as a blurb writer for Penguin Books in 1974. She did this for 15 years and then went on to become a Fiction Editor at Random House in 1989. After the publication of her third novel, she became a full-time writer. Her novel, Revenge of the Middle Aged Woman, has been made into a television film for CBS. She was the eighteenth elected Chairman of the Romantic Novelists' Association from 1995 - 1997. Her title Separate Beds made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2011.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In the uneasy role of a young bride encountering a new stepdaughter, Prue, now married 20 years, has never gotten along with Violet^-still insolent at 27. The awkward blend of Violet's new husband and son and Prue's family has explosive results. Prior to meeting Violet's husband, Jamie, meek and obedient Prue's only passion had been Joan of Arc. She is researching and writing Joan's biography. In her relationship with Jamie, she is torn between meaningful love and family loyalty. The novel alternates between Prue's narrative and her research of Joan's life. Prue takes strength from Joan and sees similarities in both of their lives. In the no-win situation of loving a son-in-law, Buchan understands the complexity of the story, and crafts a response that is intense and in tune with the many layers of relationships. Moralistic, perhaps; realistic, definitely. --Ellie Barta-Moran

Publisher's Weekly Review

The often stifling responsibilities of marriage and family life and the lure and complications of adultery are subtly and movingly explored by British author Buchan (Consider the Lily). Prue Valour, 41, is contentedly married to 60-year-old Max, and has spent the last several years nesting, raising their preadolescent daughter Jane and participating in village affairs while working on a biography of Joan of Arc. Discord enters in the person of Max's hateful daughter, Violet, who has never accepted Prue as her stepmother, and who is returning from the States to England with a baby she doesn't much like and a husband, Jamie Beckett, whom she dominates. Jamie, who finds his icy, career-obsessed wife inscrutable, is drawn to demure Prue (who is his own age) and initiates an affair. For Prue, this illicit passion is irresistible, especially since she has never experienced such erotic satisfaction. Initially, Violet and Max don't quite realize what's going on, though they note signs of trouble. Meanwhile, the Becketts' faithful and hardworking nanny, Emmy, has her own relationship problems and unplanned pregnancy. Buchan writes pitch-perfect scenes of domestic bickering, and her descriptions of illicit sexual desire ring poignant and true. The conceit of Joan of Arc's life as a parallel to Prue's is labored, but what does work is the psychologically accurate rendering of the way duty and familial love sometimes seem to become stifling cages. This often witty, insightful portrait of passion, trauma and heartache sweeps to a dramatic conclusion in which an anguished Prue realizes that "demons take up residence in the wronged." In the end, Buchan avoids sentimentality and easy answers to offer a candid assessment of how one goes on with life and marriage after the passion is past. (July) FYI: Buchan's Consider the Lily was named 1994's Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year in England, and has sold over 300,000 copies in the U.K. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved