Flora Dempsey is the headstrong only child of Lewis Dempsey, a college professor and world famous critic. When Lewis passes away, Flora returns to her New England hometown to act as his literary executor. There, she finds herself responsible for a manuscript that he was secretly writing at the end of his life—love poems to a girlfriend Flora didn't know he had. As Flora is besieged by well-wishers and literary vultures alike, she tries to figure out how to navigate it all: the fate of the poems, the girlfriend who wants a place in her life, the wounds left by her parents’ divorce, and her uncertain future.
Brimming with energy, humor, and the elbow-patchy wisdom of Flora’s still-vivid father, this enchanting debut is the uplifting story of a young woman striving to become the “perfect reader” of her father’s life, as well as her own.
“A whip-smart debut. . . . Wry and emotional.” —People
“Pouncey’s portrait of a sensitive girl numbed by loss and confused because life didn’t follow the trajectory of her upbringing is intelligent and honest. . . . Her take on life in a liberal college town . . . is deliciously spot-on.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Maggie Pouncey’s Perfect Reader is wry, vivid, loving, and exuberantly bookish. I enjoyed it tremendously.” —Meg Wolitzer
“[A] wryly perceptive first novel.” —Boston Globe
“Sparkling, shrewd, and at times hilarious in its parsing of family dynamics, academic competition, the solace of literature, the aggression of the blogosphere, and what it truly means to be a ‘perfect reader’ and a generous soul.” —Booklist
“A novel of . . . sentence-by-sentence pleasures.” —The Columbus Dispatch
“Marvelous. . . . Page for page Perfect Reader is an assured literary debut.” —BookPage
“An absolutely wonderful novel that I hope every one of you who love fine fiction will read.” —Ann La Farge, Hudson Valley News
“Pouncey’s debut is marked by an extraordinary blend of tact, wit, mercy, and intelligence. The father/daughter knot is explored from an entirely fresh perspective, and it ties us in from beginning to end.” —Mary Gordon, author of Circling My Mother
“Pouncey hones her wry wit in poking fun at small town academia, and readers with an inside view will laugh at its truth. . . . An unusual coming-of-age story. An intelligent and witty debut.” —Sacramento Book Review