Almost perfect

I turned on Turner Classic Movie channel last week, and Sean Penn was talking about African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. He called it an “almost perfect movie.” He said it had everything: adventure, romance, humor. And of course the great characters that Bogart and Hepburn helped create.

The phrase “almost perfect” stuck with me. I tried to think of books I felt were almost perfect. I’m still trying, but two books stand out: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Neither has adventure, except the adventure of living and loving (although Jo in Little Women has a great adventurous spirit). But both books have family dynamics and romance. Pride and Prejudice is more witty, deservedly called the first chick lit. Though Little Women has a quieter humor, it’s more heartwarming — and at the same time heart-hurting.

My next almost perfect pick is a Regency, Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. Jane on Dear Author says:

“Lord of Scoundrels is one of the seminal romances in my thousand book reading history. This novel was originally published in 1995 and remained in print since that time, over ten years and counting. I suspect its a book that my daughter will enjoy when she is of a romance novel reading age.”

I agree with Jane. This book has everything. Wit, great dialogue, a lusty, cynical hero and a smart, independent heroine who will shoot a man to get her way if necessary. And it also has family dynamics.

One more almost perfect book for me is Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. It has family dynamics, wit, romance, smart characters, chicanery and kinky sex.

I love many books and I have other favorite must-read authors, but these are the “almost perfect” books for me. They resonate with me. It’s not surprising that the books I write usually have family dynamics and subtle humor. I don’t strive for humor, but I think it arises out of my natural voice. Of course there’s romance. And once in a while, kinky sex.

What are your nearly perfect books? Do they reflect what you write?

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14 Responses to Almost perfect

  1. Liz Kreger says:

    Tough question, Edie. I gotta agree with “Little Women” and “Pride and Prejudice”. I think “Little Women” was the very first novel length book I’d ever read when I was a kid. I think I’ve always considered Laurie McBain’s books to be nearly perfect. I’ve certainly had them on my keeper shelf for the past thirty or so years. As far as more recent books I’ve read … gotta go with Jeaneine Frost’s books. Love ‘em. Well rounded characters, fast paced, action up the yin-yang and sexy, sexy, sexy.

  2. Marcia says:

    Yay! You’re back on the air. :lol:

    Definitely Little Women. That was the first (possibly last) literary book I read and it was fabulous. Another near perfect book, for me anyway, was Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten. Heck, that thing was magical. ;)

  3. Liz Kreger says:

    Hooray! We’re back on line. Don’t know what happened, but MM was knocked off line for much of the day. Sorry to everyone who tried logging in.

  4. Edie Ramer says:

    So glad we’re back. It was an odd day for Magical. Liz, Little Women seems to be a favorite. It’s just such a darn good story.

    I’m not surprised you’re a Laurie McBain fan. If you wrote historical, it would be in the vein of hers. I’ve never read a Jeaneine Frost book, but if you love them, they must be good.

  5. Edie Ramer says:

    Marcia, another Little Women admirer. Louisa May Alcott struck gold with that one. Her characters were so great. When I was young, I wanted to be like Jo March.

    I think Liz is a Kelly Armstrong fan too. I read paranormal but usually friends. I see I should read more.

  6. LaDonna says:

    Hey Edie, I loved Little Women too. I’d have to say my absolute favorite is Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught. I still pull it off the shelf, and read it yearly. Same with her other novels. In fact, I’ll be reading it again soon. You’ve made me want to. Oh, almost forgot Linda Howard’s McKenzie series. Those guys were top of the line hunky! :cool:

  7. Edie Ramer says:

    LaDonna, there goes my theory that the books we think are almost perfect books are similar to the books we write. None of those books are in the same vein as yours — although I could be wrong.

  8. LaDonna says:

    LOL, nope you’re not wrong, Edie. Neither of those are in my genre. Goes to show I jumped the mold again, I guess. :lol:

  9. Michelle says:

    Wow, I have a lot of almost perfect books. The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkein. The Colour of Magic by Pratchett. Pride and Predjudice and Persuasion make it on my Austen list. Use of Weapons by Banks. My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway. Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg. Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. The Danger by Dick Francis. I could probably think up a few more if I put my mind to it :) .

  10. Kath Calarco says:

    My book shelf says that any and all of Christopher Moore’s books fall into the almost perfect category. I have them all, and out of those, the one that to me is perfect is “Dirty Job”. It has all the elements I love: weird characters, heart warming/wrenching moments, thought provoking ideas and a beautiful ending.

    If anyone wants to test the Christopher Moore pond, I recommend “Dirty Job” as the diving board.

  11. Edie Ramer says:

    LaDonna, maybe it’s because you don’t fit into any mold! ;)

  12. Edie Ramer says:

    Michelle, you don’t fit into a mold either. I knew that. You have one of the most unique voices I’ve read.

  13. Edie Ramer says:

    Kath, I’ll get Dirty Job. It sounds like an almost perfect book for me too. :grin:

  14. Kath Calarco says:

    Edie, I hope you’ll like “Dirty Job”. The characters are unrealistically real. I may just re-read that one before my next eye work.

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