Review Blog

Nov 05 2020

Perfect tunes by Emily Gould

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Scribner, 2020. ISBN: 9781471175053.
(Age: Adult) This is an intriguing story of a talented woman who has grown up with music at the heart of her early life. Laura has always loved music and in her adolescent years she wrote a 'perfect' song. This impacted on her life choices, defining her 'self' and her career. As she matured, however, she gradually became unsure of herself and felt that she had been changed by particular events in her life, particularly in her experience of motherhood.
Later in life, living in New York, Laura meets her old friend and, in considering how much her friend has changed, wonders how much she herself is also very different to her younger self, and obliquely, how much her old self is still yearning for the excitement of her youth. As a mother she is more wary of situations where she may be tempted to return to her youthful ways. When she is walking through the museum one day, she wonders if 'the music in her head has gone silent'. Yet she dreams of whether she might still be considered as the hot entertainer of her youth, as she is younger than most of the other mothers whose lives she shares.
The yearning to recreate herself and to enjoy the excitement of the musical world is in contrast to her role as a loving mother. This narrative positions us to consider whether we are the same person we were in our youth, or if growing old has changed us totally. We are left to ponder whether the challenge to pursue her old talents, that may take her back to the excitement of her previous life, would be satisfying, or whether motherhood will remain as her role and thus define her life, but confine her talents.
With its explicit sexual description and references, and its adult themes, this novel would be appropriate for adolescent and adult readers.
Elizabeth Bondar

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