Monday, August 2, 2010

#BookReview: Perfect Peace - Daniel Black

In his latest novel author Daniel Black returns to a small, Southern town, this time telling the story of the Peace family.

Emma Jean Peace, the matriarch of a large brood of boys, has not led an easy life.  The author painstakingly describes the mental and physical abuse that she endured at the hands of her mother as a child.  It is no wonder then that Emma Jean has turned out to be just a little odd.  Married to Augustus "Gus" Peace, a man of few words, there is no discernible love between the two.  It would seem that the marriage was simply a convenience for both of them.  Emma Jean needed to escape her mother's house and Gus needed a family to help him harvest the fields he inherited from his family.  Even without love, the Peaces have managed to conceive six boys, but Emma Jean is determined to have a girl.

When Emma Jean gives birth to her last child, Perfect, the only witness to the sex of her child is Henrietta the midwife. Realizing that this child is the prettiest thing she's ever seen, Emma Jean makes the decision to raise her boy child as a girl.  Spinning a web of deceit and blackmail, Emma Jean manages to continue this farce until the time comes when she can no longer hide the truth from her family or Perfect.

Though I was not a fan of Daniel Black's A Sacred Place, he has redeemed himself with Perfect Peace.  It would have been easy to make Perfect the star of the book, but the truth is every member of the Peace family is given a story line and the author follows through with it.  At the end of the book you know where everyone is in his or her life, even minor characters.

What did you like about this book?
Surprisingly, the author confronts sexual stereotypes head on. It's not something I would have expected in a book set in the South during the 1930s - 1960s time period.

What didn't you like about this book?
There is an annual event that Gus and one of his sons participates in.  While I think I understood the activity, the author never fully explains it so I'm still somewhat confused by it.

What could the author do to improve this book?
Clear up the confusion about Gus' activity, as well as define the truth by which Emma Jean should live.




341pp
Published March 2010



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