From a distance, Felix Fitzwilliam, the son of an old English family, is a good husband and father. But, obsessed with order and routine, he’s a prisoner to perfection. Disengaged from the emotional life of his North Carolina family, Felix has let his wife, Ella, deal with their special-needs son by herself.
A talented jewelry designer turned full-time mother, Ella is the family rock…until her heart attack shatters their carefully structured existence. Now Harry, a gifted teen grappling with the chaos of Tourette’s, confronts a world outside his parents’ control, one that tests his desire for independence.
As Harry searches for his future, and Ella adapts to the limits of her failing health, Felix struggles with his past and present roles. To prevent the family from being ripped apart, they must each bend with the inevitability of change and reinforce the ties that bind.
The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White was a book I simply loved. I thought starting out it was women’s fiction, and I see some have classified it as that, but I think it falls more into general fiction. The book opens on a flight where Ella has a heart attack. This throws her husband Felix and son Harry into a deep dark hole. Ella who has given up her jewelry designing to care for their son and home while Felix is the earner. Now everything is turned about.
Harry has a number of conditions – ADHD, anxiety and Tourettes syndrome. Wouldn’t one be enough for anyone to cope with? Three is a lot. Just turning seventeen Harry is one of the characters I fell in love with. What a warm heart, what a discerning mind he has. I loved what he finally chose to do in life. Yet his mother has always been there for him, now Ella is distancing from him and Felix must be the parent he turns to. His Dad doesn’t have much idea and can’t even cope with a hug. I really liked seeing the person behind the syndromes, I have met many a person with ADHD and anxiety but not Tourettes. I think I felt a little nervous about even meeting anyone with this, yet now having read this book I feel I would look beyond to the person. I love it when a book helps me to take a new viewpoint.
Felix the dad and husband is a flawed and dare I say beautiful character. He loves Harry and his wife Ella, but in his very English controlled way. I liked how his character developed the most in this book, the challenges he is thrust into would take anyone’s breath away. The way he renegotiated his work commitment, expressed his love for Ella and slowly built a relationship with his son was very satisfying. His back story is difficult and his love for his brother Tom redeeming. Had it not been for Tom where might Felix have ended up?
The minor characters of Katherine ( Ella’s friend), Eudora – the little old lady next door who is no push over, and lastly but not least Max – the very good friend of Harry and Sammie – Harry’s first girlfriend. They all added flavour to this book, I loved Max, what a guy.
I don’t really want to give any of the plot away, although this is a very character driven story. I smiled at times and felt deep emotion at other times. This read was so good I know it is a book that I will want to go back to. Perhaps it all tied up a little too cosily at the end, I’d have been satisfied without the epilogue but it was there so… – I vote for it!
This book is available on Audible (narrated by Justine Eyre) Amazon or the Book Depository. I am sure there are other places, they just happen to be my haunts.
Because it is mid year and mid summer in some parts and mid winter in others, I am going to do a giveaway for a paperback copy of this book. Open internationally so long as the Book Depository ships to you free. Closes on 12th July. To enter just fill out form below.