Title: Perfect Tunes (review copy)
Author: Emily Gould
Blurb from Goodreads
The perfect song. The biggest dream. The love of her life.
It’s the early days of the new millennium, and Laura has arrived in New York City’s East Village in the hopes of recording her first album. A songwriter with a one-of-a-kind talent, she’s just beginning to book gigs with her beautiful best friend when she falls hard for a troubled but magnetic musician whose star is on the rise. Their time together is stormy and short-lived – but will reverberate for the rest of Laura’s life.
Fifteen years later, Laura’s teenage daughter is asking questions about her father, questions Laura does not want to answer. Laura has built a stable life in Brooklyn that bears little resemblance to the one she envisioned all those years ago, and she’s taken pains to close the door on what was and what might have been. When her best friend – now a famous musician – comes to town, opportunity knocks for Laura for a second time. Has growing older changed who she is and what she most wants? After all the sacrifices and compromises she’s made along the way, how much is she still that girl from Ohio, with big talent and big dreams?
‘Perfect Tunes’ has all the ingredients that I typically love in a book.
- It’s set in New York! I love when books are set in New York.
- It follows a young wannabe singer/songwriter named Laura who moves to New York to work crappy jobs that barely pay the rent just so she can be inspired by the city, by this different lifestyle and can hone her craft.
- It features a love affair with a moody singer in a band … Laura meets Dylan at a party through mutual friends and they start a relationship.
- It later focuses on the relationship between mother and daughter from the daughter’s infancy through early teens… I love reading about mother-daughter relationships because of how pure they are on a base level but also how complex they can be.
So yup, this is all like catnip to me… yet I have never felt so dispassionate about a New York based story before! The narrative style is much too passive. The choice of perspective means that it feels like as a reader I was just being told about all the events in Laura’s life but never once did I truly feel what she felt. I couldn’t empathise with her nor with any of the other characters at all! The story just sort of happened in a rather predictable fashion. It was technically well written and intelligently structured… but it utterly lacked heart. I get that the romantic relationship between Laura and Dylan was meant to be quite dispassionate of itself as really they were just two people who sort of found themselves together and ended up having sex and sharing drugs etc. rather than connecting on an emotional level, but I just needed a spark of something from Laura. Something to make me feel that she wasn’t just coasting through life keeping the reader at arm’s length from her true feelings.
And then when the book moved onto part two which featured Laura’s journey through motherhood it got even duller! I found Laura to be as passively written as before and therefore never truly understood her connection to her daughter… like okay, obviously I understand the connection between a mother and their child but this novel just never elicited any heartwarming feelings from me because the writing was so sterile.
I also found it difficult to connect with Laura’s daughter Marie and similarly never could empathise with her emotional plight because of how clinically she was written.
This is a book that did a lot of telling but never showed me true emotion. There wasn’t one character, either main or supporting, that truly sparkled on the page. Everything was so clinically written, everyone had a technical function in the plot… but heart always lacked.
Sadly this book just wasn’t what I thought it would be.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
This edition publishing 6th August 2020, Scribner UK/Simon and Schuster UK