The compelling and emotional Sunday Times bestseller


'You will end up grinning dippily and recommending this wild, searching book to everyone you know.' The Times
'A gorgeously poignant novel of hope and transformation' O: The Oprah Magazine

Brimming with love, forgiveness and redemption, this is a heartrending story about what happens when a perfect world is shattered and what it takes to put it right.


Summer, 1972: In the claustrophobic heat, eleven-year-old Byron and his friend begin 'Operation Perfect', a hapless mission to rescue Byron's mother from impending crisis.

Winter, present day: As frost creeps across the moor, Jim cleans tables in the local café, a solitary figure struggling with OCD. His job is a relief from the rituals that govern his nights.

Little would seem to connect them except that two seconds can change everything.
And if your world can be shattered in an instant, can time also put it right?


What readers are saying:

***** 'A stunningly beautiful and poignant book.'

***** 'Heartbreaking and so beautifully written.'
***** 'A touching story with a twist I didn't see coming.'
***** 'Thought provoking and full of hope.'
***** 'The story is quiet, and yet absolutely absorbing... I loved this book'


  • A near-flawless novel of emotional truth. Joyce executes this story with precision and flair... Its unputdownable factor lies in its exploration of so many multilayered emotions... It is her clever did-I-read-that-right twist at the end that really got to me and had me scrabbling back through the chapters, open-mouthed.
    Evening Standard

About the author

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop, Miss Benson's Beetle and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her new novel, Maureen Fry & the Angel of the North is published in October 2022. The film of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is in production for release late in 2022.

Rachel's books have been translated into thirty-six languages and two are in development for film. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards 'New Writer of the Year' in December 2012 and shortlisted for the 'UK Author of the Year' 2014.

Rachel has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl.

She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.
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