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6 January 2014

Review: 'Mr. Perfect' by Joanna Davies (2013)

Mari Wyn Roberts is 35, works for a TV company in Cardiff and just can't keep a relationship going for more than two years. She wants her Mr Perfect but after nearly 20 years of dating she's starting to worry that her ideal man doesn't exist. Worst of all, what if one of the 'duds' she was so happy to bin over the years was her 'perfect man' all along? On the other side of the city, Owen, also 35, is looking for love on his terms. There must be a girl out there that's single, intelligent and doesn't want to mother or stifle him?

As a part of the Chick Lit Club review team, I received a review copy of Joanna Davies’ novel ‘Mr. Perfect.’ I instantly knew I wanted to give this book a chance. Not just because I really liked the sound of the blurb and the cute cover, but also because of the origin of the publisher and author, namely Wales. I’m part Welsh myself, so when I found out this novel is actually set in Wales I immediately wanted to learn more about it. I hadn’t read anything by Joanna Davies before, but I had read positive things online and was quite curious to start ‘Mr. Perfect.’

Mari Wyn Roberts is a 35-year old single woman who is still looking for her perfect man after approximately 20 years of dating various different but all slightly unsuitable men. Ideally, she’d get together with a man who is a combination of actors Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt and George Clooney, but she hasn’t found him yet. Owen, also a 35-year old living in Cardiff, has been looking for his perfect woman at the same time. For him, Mrs. Perfect has Dawn French’s humour, Carol Vorderman’s brains, and Kelly Brook’s body. Both Mari and Owen continue their dating adventures, not knowing that that one person might be closer by than they think...   

The basic plotline of this novel was great. The reader is taken through time, starting in the 1990’s, and we meet all the different people both Mari and Owen end up dating from their teenage years until the present time. Together they meet and date all kinds of people, often ending up in some laugh-out-loud situations. I just loved that Joanna Davies picked this slightly basic but classic storyline and turned it into something I personally really enjoyed. I loved reading about Mari and Owen’s dates, the specific types they ended up with, and hoping they would eventually find that Mr. and Mrs. Perfect they are both looking for. I think this is something many readers will be able to relate to; don’t we all have that specific actor or character we want to accidentally bump into on the street, knowing it will be love at first sight?!  

I really liked Mari. I thought she was an interesting character, and I also instantly liked Owen. As I already mentioned, I also loved the fact that this novel is set in Wales. It somehow really gave the novel that little bit extra for me. Overall, I thought ‘Mr. Perfect’ is a light-hearted and funny read that is perfect for anyone who loves a romantic comedy. I honestly have nothing bad to say about this novel and applaud Joanna Davies for writing such a lovely book!

Rating: 8,5/10  


I'm delighted to have had the chance to interview Joanna Davies about her book 'Mr. Perfect'; you can find her answers underneath! 

1) Can you tell us something about your novel, ‘Mr. Perfect’?
I'm a big fan of romantic movies like 'When Harry Met Sally,' 'Dirty Dancing' and 'The Princess Bride' and when I was younger and dating, these films did influence me, as I tried unsuccessfully to experience my own 'epic' love story. This inspired me to write a story about two characters, Mari and Owen, who are also too influenced by popular culture and finding the 'perfect' romance. The obsession with finding a dream partner can stop you from finding a more real and satisfying relationship which is the main theme of the novel.

 I also love Director and Writer, John Hughes's 1980s American high school films like 'Pretty in Pink' and 'Sixteen Candles'. So I was keen to start the story in a high school in the early 1990s to show the characters' first 'romantic' experiences as teenagers before moving on to their equally angst-ridden 20s and 30s. It's good fun to write about this period when I was a teenager and poke fun at the pop culture and fashion of the time.

Each chapter deals with the characters' unfortunate dating experiences and in 'Mr Men' style, each date is given an illustrative name -from Mr Bad Voice to Ms Red Light. Both Owen and Mari, the main characters, keep meeting up over a period of 20 years, sometimes when on a bad date. They unwittingly play out a 'movie' like comedy romance, from their first 'meet cute' meeting to the dramatic declaration of love at the end. The main message is like in the film, 'Some Like it Hot', that nobody's perfect and you don't need perfection to have a loving and long lasting relationship. And your story can be just as good as the one in a film!

2) Where did you find the inspiration for ‘Mr. Perfect’? Is it in any way based on your own life experiences?
'Mr Perfect' is loosely based on my real life dating experiences and those of some of my friends but they've been hugely embellished. It's surprising how varied bad dates can be and I did enjoy conjuring up even more extreme imaginary ones for the book!

3) There’s a great mix of characters in the novel. Which character did you most enjoy writing about and why?
I think my favourite character is Owen as he's very loveable and a bit of an everyman. His banter with his best friend, Huw was also good fun to write.  I also enjoy writing 'baddies' so had a great time writing scenes for Lucy, the stalker too.

4) Who would be your own Mr. Perfect?
When I was younger I had a definite idea of a Mr Perfect -a cross between Mr Darcy and Johnny Depp with Alan Rickman's voice!  However, like Mari and Owen finally realise, I also realised that this mythical 'perfect' partner doesn't exist. So I'm happy with my lovely imperfect husband -we've been together for 12 years.

5) Can you perhaps tell us something about your future plans as an author? Are you already working on a next novel?
I also write in the Welsh language. (Mr Perfect was originally Mr Perffaith published by Gomer Press in 2011.) I have another Welsh language book out next summer, Cario Mlaen (Carrying On) which is a sequel to my first novel, 'Freshers' (also available in English!) My next project is to translate my novel, 'Ieuan Bythwyrdd', or 'Erotomania' into English which is quite a surreal dark comedy about a fantasist stalker and an egotistical young famous actor.  I really enjoyed writing this as it satirises celebrity culture and social media and has some quite ridiculous over the top scenes, which are also film homages, such as a chase scene where the main character drives off the Severn Bridge!

6) Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
I think the most obvious tip is to write about what you know. It's much easier to do and the authenticity shines through for the reader. Don't be too influenced by the highbrow or 'what's popular' lists and do your own thing. It's a labour of love for most of us though as there's not much money in it but the satisfaction is immense when you see the finished work. You also need a very thick skin when looking at reviews -remember even the greats get criticised sometimes!  Self publishing is also a route to explore if you find it hard (like many) to get a publisher or agent. 

7) And last but not least, if you had to describe ‘Mr. Perfect’ in just three words, which words would you pick?
Quirky, funny, wry.

Thanks so much to Joanna Davies for taking the time to do this interview! Be sure to get your own copy of 'Mr. Perfect' via Amazon by clicking here!

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