Reviewed by Janine Cobain
Maud is dedicated to the art of lettercutting. Whilst observing a century-old inscription carved by Eric Gill into the outside wall of a London church, she is mistaken by Edward for a prostitute. She accepts his offer.
Why does a woman seeking the precision and discipline of perfect letterforms abandon herself so recklessly to the undisciplined and all too imperfect world of Edward?
What does rich, hedonistic city banker Edward see in the purposeful and unmaterialistic woman who is at least ten years older than his normal bedmates... and one still pining for her husband from whom she is separated?
Lettercutting becomes not just a background, but an analogy for the search for perfection in an imperfect world. Can such shallow beginnings lead to a relationship that carves itself into their souls?
This was a strange, and sometimes disturbingly powerful, novel depicting the journey of Maud, an American woman, ravaged by loss, on a personal quest for perfection; The Perfect Capital. She travels to the streets of London to study the work of Eric Gill, and on viewing an inscription of his in a church doorway she is mistaken for a prostitute by Edward. Maud allows herself to take on the mistaken identity and thus ensues an affair which shows the how the connection between these two unlikely bed-mates pulls them along a healing path to a more traditional relationship.
I found the lessons in letters, and their cutting, a little distracting although the author was able to demonstrate, through Maud, a good knowledge and keen interest in the subject and, ultimately, I could see the analogy had been used to good effect.
I enjoyed the interactions of the lead characters with the peripheral ones; the interference of
Edward’s mother and his ex-girlfriend, and the frustrations of Maud’s childhood friend at the role she had been bestowed in life were believable, and the personalities well-developed.
There was a crumb trail throughout the story that hinted at the conclusion, and although, through the clues, I had guessed what was coming, it was still powerful on its arrival and validated the cold-hearted, often stoic, reactions that Maud had displayed.
An interesting novel, unusual in its presentation but intriguing, and time spent reading it was
certainly not wasted.
I'd like to thank Janine for reviewing it for the blog. Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback