“The idea of perfection” by Kate Greville.
I’m going through my bookshelves at the moment, trying to root out all of the books I’ve either not read, or have started and haven’t finished; this is one of the latter. Four years ago I really struggled with it, and after a few weeks I thought enough was enough, and gave up on it. When I took it off the shelf the other day I found an old bus ticket in it marking my place, and was surprised to see that I had actually almost finished it: I had stopped reading it with only six chapters left to read. This time round I finished it in three or four days. I’m glad I’ve finally read it, if only because this is one of the many, many books I shipped halfway round the world when I emigrated. I can’t say I loved it it any more the second time round than I did the first, but at least I now know how it ends.
In case you’re interested, the blurb on the back says, “The Idea of Perfection is a funny and touching romance between two people who’ve given up on love. Set in the eccentric little backwater of Karabrook, New South Wales, pop. 1374, it tells the story of Douglas Cheeseman, a gawky engineer with jug-handle ears, and Harley Savage, a woman altogether too big and too abrupt for comfort. Harley is in Karabrook to foster ‘Heritage’, and Douglas is there to pull down the quaint old Bent Bridge. From day one they’re on a collision course. But out of this unpromising conjunction of opposites, something unexpected happens; something even better than perfection.”