Wednesday 24 May 2017

Review: It's got to be Perfect by Claire Allan

Poolbeg, €13.99, Paperback

Fairground Attraction's '80s hit 'It's Got to be Perfect' has a line in it that goes "too many people take second best, but I won't take anything less". That's also the philosophy of Annie Delaney, the protagonist of former Derry Journal reporter Claire Allan's fourth novel of the same name.

Self-absorbed, immature Annie is a PR exec with a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease, an over-reliance on wine and an idealised view of romance. She also has a Life Plan -- a scrapbook she has kept since a young age detailing her strategy for a perfect life: Get a good job; buy a house by 30; meet Mr Right; get married by 33; have a baby by 35.

However, when we meet Annie her life is falling apart and unrecognisable from her plan. She cheats on and breaks up with her obnoxious and equally self-obsessed boyfriend Pearse and finds herself '31 and back to square one'. She is also close to losing her job through nobody's fault but her own, while her best friend and the sister she idolises are madly in love in perfect relationships, or so Annie thinks.

It's Got to be Perfect is not just about Annie and her friends' romantic lives, it is an exploration of the ups and downs of friendships and the futility of mapping out our lives.

But apart from Annie, the characters are not particularly developed or memorable and the writing and parts of the story are often clichéd and predictable.

However, Claire Allan's previous books have all been bestsellers so she's doing something right. This is an easy read with a strong feel-good factor.

Irish Independent

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