“Broken Places” by Wendy Perriam

broken-placesThe book jacket suggests that we may either love Eric (the main character) or want to shake him! Whilst passionately idealistic about his work as a librarian, and his mission to extend literacy into the community, he’s also ruefully aware that he’s no Superman. Eric, we are told, has a mysterious background and mortifying fears.

Having been abandoned by his wife and daughter, Eric reluctantly sets out to prove himself and to find a soul-mate. The plot takes him through “Choco-Love Speed-Dating”, running a readers’ groups in the local prison and attending an American Church that champions the Gospel of Prosperity. The book is intended to provide a mixture of comedy with an investigation of fear. Another theme is that of children growing up in care and how this early influence can lead to bad outcomes later in life.

The author sets out her own intentions for the book on her website:


Wikipedia tells us that the author started writing at the age of five and wrote her first novel at eleven. She went silent as she struggled through a long period of depression, having been expelled from her Catholic School for heresy and told she was in Satan’s power. Many of her early novels explore the abuses and, conversely, the great attractions of Catholicism.

Perriam’s work has been critically acclaimed for its psychological insight and for its power to disturb as well as divert. She has been described by the Sunday Telegraph as “one of the most interesting unsung novelists of her generation”. In January 2013, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Kingston University for her “outstanding contribution to literature and reading pleasure.”

Her work is also renowned for its explicit sexual content and in 2002, she won the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Award for Tread softly.

Broken Places , which is her 16th novel, was shortlisted for a ‘Mind Book of the Year’ award in 2011.


We read this book in May 2013.

11 people attended our discussion and all agreed that the book was slight and shallow. Whilst some people more or less enjoyed it, others felt it was too pathetic to be enjoyed. A few thought it was quite funny in several places but most did not. One person thought it was the worst book we’ve had in BookChat.

Someone suggested that the author was generally “telling not showing” and several agreed with this assessment.

Having come to these conclusions, the group felt that there was little to discuss and the discussion finished early.

Scores out of ten ranged from 0 to 8  with only 1 vote of over 5. The average score was 3.25, confirming this as one of our least-liked books.

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