Anne's Reviews > The Great Perhaps

The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno
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's review
Apr 18, 2010

really liked it
Read in April, 2010

Oh my word! This is a difficult book to review, it is so unlike anything I have read before and I doubt that I would have even attempted it if I had not been sent a review copy from the publisher. I'm left wondering and pondering by the whole thing - I have greatly enjoyed reading it, but have to admit that some of the concept and ideals have passed me by.

On the face of it, this is a novel about a family, made up of Dad, Mum, two sisters and a Grandfather. To say this is one weird, wacky and unique family is putting it lightly! Each chapter (narrated in the third person) is devoted to a family member. This is a family who live together only - although closely related, and on the outside, fairly respectable - each member lives in their own little world that is rarely shared with their relatives.

Jonathan (Dad) is scared of clouds, he is obsessed with finding the Giant Squid and spends most of his time devoted to that. Madeline (my least favourite character) studies pigeons, wonders where her live is going, becomes obsessed with a cloud and leaves home regularly, only to return and start all over again. Amelia, the oldest daughter wants to revolutionise the USA - she hates capitalism, in that she hates everything and wants to make an impact. Thisbe, the youngest daughter wants to be loved, she wants to sing and prays constantly to a God that she doesnt understand, but prays for the most unusual things to happen. And then there is Henry - the grandfather, and my favourite character. Henry has regrets, his life is almost over and he spends most of his time thinking back over the events that have shaped him.

Henry's story and musings are wonderful, going back to him finding out about his Father's betrayal during the Second World War and his feelings about his own part in the Vietnam War. It is Henry that has shaped the whole family and in a way keeps it together.

I became totally engrossed the more I read, it's a sort of social commentary, set just before the 2004 Presidential Elections and uses humour and some pretty absurd situations to get across a human and social message.

Curious and complex and in the beginning, quite a tricky read, but some wonderful characters and fabulous writing.

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