‘Few evade full measure of their fate.’
Hart Crane, ‘The Bridge’
Just before the publication of her novel Dark Places in 1994, Kate Grenville said that she was thinking about her next book, ‘a heart-warming old-fashioned love story’. Well, The Idea of Perfection – and isn’t that what all love stories are about? – is that love story, though it warms both heart and head, for the bliss it affords is not so much visceral as aesthetic, even architectural.
For one of its lovers, both of whom have been married before – he having bored his wife into leaving him, she having had a husband commit suicide in a manner of which neither Bret Easton Ellis nor the Coen brothers would have been ashamed – is a structural engineer, the other a quilter. Both are quietly passionate about shapes and structures, though not about ‘poststructuralism’ which, as Margaret Jones has noted, is of no use with Australian fences.