Friday, September 9, 2011

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

To the outside world, they seem to have it all. Cassie Barrett, a renowned anthropologist, and Alex Rivers, one of Hollywood's hottest actors, met on the set of a motion picture in Africa. They shared childhood tales, toasted the future, and declared their love in a fairy-tale wedding. But when they return to California, something alters the picture of their perfect marriage. A frightening pattern is taking shape-a cycle of hurt, denial, and promises, thinly veiled by glamour. Torn between fear and something that resembles love, Cassie wrestles with questions she never dreamed she would face: How can she leave? Then again, how can she stay? (from GoodReads)

Picture Perfect is the first book I've read by Jodi Picoult that doesn't revolve around a court case or a legal drama. That being said, this novel is a breath of fresh. It was neat to see Jodi Picoult focus on an actual relationship, without all the legal stuff in the background.

Even though this is one of Jodi Picoult's older novels (first published in 1995 - it was funny to see all the talk of VCRs), it's good to know she can still write as well when there isn't a trial going on. What the GoodReads summary doesn't tell you is that the book starts out with Cassie having amnesia. She starts remembering bit by bit and when she finds out that she's married to a famous movie star, she's flabbergasted. But about halfway through the book she remembers everything - how she met Alex, and how their perfect marriage isn't so perfect. This is all told in a flashback which is really interesting because it gets to the core of Alex and Cassie's relationship, and the abuse it involves.

This isn't a normal domestic violence book - where the man is the clear villain and it's all black-and-white. Instead, you get to see the complexities of Alex: his traumatic childhood, his regret and guilt, his love for Cassie, his uncontrollable anger. It makes it easier to see why Cassie would stay with him time and time again (even if you don't agree with her actions).

I thought Jodi Picoult wrote a very interesting novel about abuse, a different take from movies like Sleeping with the Enemy. The characters are complex and well-written, and have rich histories, which is perfect for such a character driven novel. If you want a great story, look no further than Picture Perfect.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library

1995/Berkley Trade/369 pages.


the analyst said...

I loved this one as well. It was after I had read it that I found out that it's Picoult's third novel, and that it was published more than 15 years ago!
Other than PP, I've read My Sister's Keeper and Handle With Care, both of which is about "court and legal dramas" ;)
I still own 7 more books by Jodi Picoult that I haven't read yet though.

Portugal said...

Keeping Faith, The Pact, and Harvesting the Heart are prime examples of Picoult's remarkable talent. I was enthralled by all three of those books. While Picture Perfect was a good read, it lacked the depth and beauty of the others. Still, it was enjoyable.