It seems that the Australian publishing industry’s hunger for anti-rom-coms (or as I like to call them, Sad Girl Lit) is showing no signs of abating. The perfect successor to the Cecelia Ahern and Marian Keyes heyday of the last decade, today’s heroine is stressed out and has major FOMO. Prue, the heroine of Jessica Seaborn‘s debut novel Perfect-Ish is no exception.
Prue is about to turn thirty. She’s single, doesn’t know if she likes the career path she’s on, and has a terrible relationship with her Mum. She’s also a bit of a mess. Case in point, the first time we meet Prue, she’s turning up late to a wedding, hot and sweaty and wearing a rented designer dress that makes her look like a Siamese fighting fish. Oh and she’s just accidentally stolen a glass of champagne from a nearby birthday party by mistake.
It’s no surprise really then, that by the next morning, she’ll have hooked up with the wrong guy and everyone will be talking about her- and not in a good way. So Prue sets out to turn her life around- and just as you would want from this kind of story, hilarity ensues.
This novel was the perfect blend of familiar and surprising. It doesn’t attempt to break the boundaries of the genre, but sits comfortably in its lane. As a result, it’s a smart, funny, compelling read that is perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon on the back deck with a glass of rose, or perhaps (weather permitting), to take to the beach.
Prue and her best friend Delia’s relationship shines at the centre of the book, which, while it does feature a little bit of romance, is more focussed on the development of Prue as a person rather than tying her value as a character to whether or not she’s headed down the aisle at the end of it.
While Prue does some truly questionable things, Seaborn cleverly anchors the reader into her point of view, allowing her actions to feel logical and sometimes even justifiable. But who says female characters need to be likeable anyway?
I raced through Perfect-Ish in an afternoon. It is compulsively readable, extremely interesting, and at times, laugh out loud funny. Come for the promise of a great read, stay for the moments of originality. (Her brother being a rich and famous erotic fiction writer for one…) If you’re looking for Sorrow and Bliss mashed up with early Marian Keyes, this is it!