Here is a selection of my favourite A Perfect Square reviews
“A feast for the reader, this multi-layered novel is itself resonant with significances, some increasingly disturbing, , some increasingly disturbing, such as the recurring appearance of the triptych in black, white and grey by ‘an unknown artist’…
Harriet, living amid forests in Victoria, paints abstracts of the downs of south England. Judith, living in another place, the south of England, and indeed, in another time line, paints landscapes of a country she has never seen, the Wimmera of her imagination. To the dismay of each, their respective daughters abruptly return home, escaping awful men, ‘The Degenerate’, ‘The Troll’… Here for you to absorb for more than one viewing is a painting, or perhaps a novel, of intricate characters and their inner worlds, the whole ridden through with an increasing sense of dread that something is going to go horribly amiss.” https://baffledbearbooks.com/2019/04/24/a-perfect-square-by-isobel-blackthorn/
“A Perfect Square is a clever, thoughtful literary novel which also manages to have a cracking plot and complex characters.
This is a book that grew and grew on me. I’ll admit to a false start the first time I picked it up. I felt there was a lot of moving around in the characters’ heads to the recent past, the far past and then back to the present. But when I sat down with a proper amount of time to dig into the story it was an absolute pleasure. Blackthorn has a great plot and lots of writing talent. Her descriptions are wonderful – both of people and places – and there was lots of fabulous language to enjoy. I loved the two parallel mother/daughter stories and was impressed by the way they intersected. It was also great to read so much about the creative process and to consider the challenges of creativity and motherhood.” – Kate Braithwaite
“Some books haunt you. You rarely know this will happen when you are reading them – the sensation creeps up on you after the last page. With A Perfect Square there was a moment as I read where my heart dropped and I knew this book would stay with me. It is the story of two mother-daughter relationships, one in Australia and one in England. The parallels and connections are unveiled slowly, like a spider’s web slowly but artfully woven. Blackthorn uses words beautifully to create settings and lives so real that I felt I was in the room, a silent and at times uncomfortable observer.
Harriet is a menopausal artist whose daughter, Ginny, returns home after a relationship breakup. Her decision to challenge Ginny to co-create an exhibition of art and music in order to shake her out of her depression has unforeseen consequences for both of them. At the same time Ginny’s quest to find her father unlocks secrets that might have been better left in the shadows. On the other side of the world, Judith struggles with her relationship with her daughter Madeleine, as she faces her own creative demons.
On another level A Perfect Square is an exploration of the truth and meaning of art and the nature of creativity. Blackthorn is an exceptionally skilful writer, not only at the technical level (characterisation, description, structure and so on) but at the thematic level. As she writes about the power of art, she evokes a range of emotional responses in the reader. The beautiful language in the book inspired me to create, while at one point I felt heart pounding anxiety and at the end, when I realised how few pages were left, I felt bereft because I didn’t want to leave the characters whose lives I had become absorbed in. The descriptions of art and the creative process are a reminder that there is much more below the surface than we often notice.
I don’t keep many books any more because I’ve run out of shelf space, but this is one that I will keep and return to. A marvellous work.” – Rachel Nightingale