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The Perfect Affair (2014)

With her daughter, Jodie, on the verge of flying the nest and her husband, Andrew, failing to offer the promise he once did, Eve begins to question her life and love. Meeting Myles, himself struggling with the realities of marriage, exacerbates Eve's feelings of lack and emptiness and in each other Myles and Eve find something unexpected, something wonderful, but also dangerous and forbidden. Meanwhile Rose, a surrogate grandmother of sorts to Eve and Myles' landlady, watches over the pair's clandestine relationship with the awareness of experience, knowing more than most the value of following your heart. Claire Dyer once again proves herself to be an accomplished writer and deft observer of complex human relationships. She's an author who doesn't look at life and love through rose-tinted lenses but views it for what it is: difficult, complex and potentially beautiful, and who is not afraid to take the road less travelled in her plots or with her characters. She really captures the dilemmas of family life, of sterile love and of extramarital relationships both in the present day with Myles and Eve and in the nostalgic, bittersweet narrative of Rose. Mature, affecting yet tender, The Perfect Affair encapsulates Dyer's skill and originality as an author and leaves the reader in eager anticipation of what she's going to bring next. (JC)

The Moment (2013)

While Fern waits for her train at Paddington, a commotion causes her to look back and it is then that she notices Elliott, her ex-boyfriend of some twenty five years. Their relationship ended frostily so should she go and say hello, or pretend she hasn't seen him? Curiosity wins out and she goes over to talk to him. As they part ways to board their separate trains, Elliott and Fern's thoughts are overwhelmed by the past and questions of what if. While they both try to continue with their day ahead and the expectations of their current lives, the suggestion of another meeting at Paddington that evening weighs heavily on both their minds. Told over a single day with flashbacks to Fern and Elliott's story, Claire Dyer deftly weaves together a complex and intricate story. There is some repetition as the story is told from both perspectives but I didn't find this a problem. The writing in this novel is masterful and the author really gets inside the relationship and evokes the importance of time and the decisions that define lives. I was slightly disappointed by Fern and Elliott's love story which I didn't really feel had the intensity or beauty that I had expected, but I liked the fact that Fern and Elliott only actually share the briefest of reunions in the novel. I also enjoyed the multiple endings that the author offered, the third of which was completely refreshing and for me would have been a worthy end to this intricate and clever novel. I would have preferred for the novel to end there rather than the author settling on one ending. Nevertheless I do not want to take away from the superb writing skill and depth of this novel and I look forward to Claire's next novel. (JC)

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