Book Reviews Books

Book Review – Her Perfect Life

Her Perfect Life by Rebecca Taylor is a compelling story of grief, relationships, and identity. Eileen Greyden is an overwhelmed wife, mother of three, and struggling photographer. Her sister is the ridiculously famous author Clare Collins, from whom she is somewhat estranged. Early in the book Eileen gets a call from her brother-in-law Simon telling her that Clare has killed herself, and asking her to come to their mansion north of San Francisco to help him manage the arrangements.

This begins Eileen’s journey to discover not only why her sister killed herself, but who she really was. The chapters were split between the points of view of Clare at various points in her past, ranging from two to twenty-two years before her death, and present-day Eileen, plus a few from Simon’s perspective. There wasn’t any specific pattern to the POV switches, but I didn’t have any trouble following them or the time shifts.

While there was some mystery surrounding Clare’s suicide, this book was more Contemporary Women’s Fiction than Thriller. Both of the main female characters had strong arcs from beginning to end. Clare’s timeline jumped around more (not a problem, in my opinion) and the reader could see how her entire life built up to her dramatic suicide. Eileen’s timeline was shorter, but she also had a strong character arc, with a lot of growth between the first and last chapters.

I appreciated the realistic treatment of the messiness of life, and the fact that sometimes there are no easy solutions. How women see themselves, present themselves to others, and understand how others perceive them often conflict. There’s a lot in our lives we can’t control, but how we respond is within our power, if only we would exercise it more. This was the arc for Eileen–it didn’t make her life easier, but it did make her more content.

I was not given a copy of Her Perfect Life, but pre-ordered it several months ago when the author announced it on the WFWA Facebook page. It was worth the money for an enjoyable read that took me only a few days to finish.

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