THE IDEA OF PERFECTION
Winner of 2001’s Orange Prize for Fiction, Australian novelist Grenville sets her latest effort in the sleepy town of Karakarook (pop. 1,374). Geeky engineer Douglas Cheeseman is sent from Sydney to dismantle a defunct bridge. Along the dusty fly-ridden streets he encounters fellow city-slicker Harley Savage, a plain hulk of a woman who has come to establish a museum. The unlikely courtship between the two outcasts is about as socially painful as a junior high dance, but the author’s gentle treatment of their relationship never sinks to the level of condescension. At times as languid as the settlement itself, ultimately Perfection is a sweet read.