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Perfect Skin [Paperback]

Nick Earls
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 28 2001
Jon Marshall, a thirtysomething plastic surgeon, has come a long way. He's a partner in his own medical practice, owns a house in the suburbs, and cruises town in a BMW. He also has a six-month-old daughter, Lily, affectionately known as the Bean.

But Jon's life hasn't taken the path he thought it would in his twenties. Newly single, he's facing the challenges of dating in a post-Duran-Duran world. His computer has been seized by surly software. He accidentally peed on his date's cat. And while the Bean reminds him of life's possibilities every day, his new running buddy, Ashley, reminds him that relationship rules were made to be broken.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A newly widowed Australian doctor finds himself caught between the demands of raising his infant daughter and those of the dating world in Earls's breezy but thoughtful romance. Dating proves far more difficult than child-rearing for Jon Marshall, the laser surgeon whose wife dies during childbirth. He quickly sinks a budding romance with Katie, a friend of his office manager, in a series of hysterical scenes in which Jon has some unseemly accidents with Katie's unfortunate cat. Things get a bit more serious when the 30-ish Jon befriends an attractive college student named Ashley: they start out as running buddies, but their relationship slowly blossoms into something more serious. The most intriguing subplot involves Jon's internal wrestling match with the legacy of his marriage, which had been problematic before his wife's death. He finds he must come to terms with his old relationship before he can make a go of it with his college-age partner. Earls spends far too much time dissecting Jon's social life in the context of '80s rock music, and while he writes touchingly about the joys of being a young single parent, he conveniently glosses over most of the nightmares. He earns kudos, however, for steering his would-be lovers away from a formulaic happy ending, though the feel-good resolution will still satisfy dedicated romantics. Dating can be daunting at any age, but Earls paints the battle of the sexes as a friendly duel with plenty of promising common ground, and readers should enjoy this amiable, well-crafted and genuinely romantic book. (Oct. 24)Forecast: A bestseller Down Under, Earls could be embraced here as the Aussie Nick Hornby, but it will take some good reviews and even better marketing.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In the wake of several comic novels about men learning to date and love in their late twenties comes a comic novel about a man relearning dating and love in his mid-thirties. Bumbling but charming Jon, a laser surgeon and single father to six-month-old Lily (aka Bean), is back on the dating scene. His return is marked by comic travails, which his friends and coworkers ridicule endlessly, including a particularly funny scene wherein he urinates on his date's cat. Halfway through the novel it's revealed that Bean's mother died in childbirth and that Jon's a widower rather than a divorce. This revelation would feel forced in other novels, but here it is earned, as are most of the funny moments, with complex characters and compelling examinations of the ambivalence that sometimes accompanies grief. Some of the gags go on much, much too long, but this Australian best-seller is funny and moving, even for readers who aren't worried about the future of their perfect skin. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Talking is Good March 6 2003
Format:Hardcover
Two of my favourite literary characters are Louis Ironson - from Angels from America - who polemicizes, intellectualizes, pontificates and basically just talks and talks - and Mo, from the very funny comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For" who basically does the same. In the face of fear, pain or jealousy, they talk against the world, and yeah, it's blathering, but I find it charming. Probably because I do the same, which is maybe a reason why I'm a writer.
The main character in Perfect Skin does an awful lot of talking which biases me towards both liking him and liking the book.
Another reason why I like the book: I like books that are about people and relationships, that don't necessarily need big events to drive the story. Perfect Skin is a page-turner because you want to know what happens to the characters. It's about how we live our daily lives, how we relate to each other, and how we reach out to people.
A lot seems to be made about the humour in this book - and it's true, it's very very funny and enjoyable because of it - but perhaps it works all the better because of what lies underneath - weighty gusts of loss and hurt, recovery and survival.
I found it affecting and beautiful: a perfect little gem of a book that let me under the skin of some characters I was glad to meet and get to know.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing change of pace March 21 2002
Format:Hardcover
I am a self-proclaimed British Chick books lover and when I saw this one in the library, I was intrigued by the cover jacket ~~ it looks like something I would read and the fact that it was written by an Aussie and a male at that, I just had to pick it up. It's wonderful! It's cute and pardon the pun ~~ it's adorable. (I don't think the author would like that term applied to his book!)
Jon, a single dad and doctor, is attempting to go back into the world after his wife's death in childbirth and what ensues is a series of misfortunate and hilarious accidents. (I have to say that Nick Earls sure knows his cats! I am almost tempted to ask him if my cat was the basis of Flag, the cat hero in this book!) Anyhow, one day he was just dad to Lily and a dermatologist in a busy practice then the next day, he's juggling between two women. Katie is the woman trapped in the 80s with the 80s hairdo that Jon and his office mates secretly joke about. Ash is the jogging partner that makes his mind go around in circles. Jon is left juggling his feelings for Ash while trying to let Katie down gently. That is where Flagg comes in. Flagg decides that he likes Jon ~~ and Jon seems to be extremely clumsy where the cat is concerned. (My husband laughed and laughed over choice parts of the book.)
I really can't go into too much details about this book because if I do, I will ruin it for the next person to read this review. All I can say is buy this book and see for yourself. Earls writes with humor and grace about a single dad slowly feeling his way back into the world after his wife's death. He also writes with feeling about Jon's coming to grips with his wife's death and becoming a father. Jon may be bewildered and confused at times, but what father wouldn't be? And it is just one of the best short reads I've read this year.
If Earls has more books out in the States, I'll be sure to pick them up. He is a talent to watch out for.
...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly entertaining Oct. 26 2001
Format:Hardcover
"Perfect Skin" is another addition to the modern breed of popular novel: aimed squarely at the 20- or 30-something yuppie women's demographic, with perhaps a sideline in selling to the SNAG market. Published in a nice large size, with an eye-catching picture and a sleek new millennium font (wouldn't want to risk being confused with the Danielle Steele genre), these novels have become disappointingly homogeneous. Unusually among its shelf companions, however, "Perfect Skin" is written by a man. Nick Earls' no-nonsense prose and willingness to grapple with some deeper life issues makes a refreshing change from the giggly bimbo style of other similar novels.
The topic of this venture into pop publishing is single parenting - more specifically, single fatherhood. Jon seems to have his life all under control: there's him, the Bean (6 months old), his gaggle of similarly single friends and his dermatology practice. As we begin to delve deeper into Jon's life, the strands come apart to reveal some unexpected truths about putting a life back together. Along the way, there's a semi-deranged cat woman with eighties hair, an unfortunate incident in the bathroom involving her cat, several sleep-deprived nights with baby Bean and an interesting new female acquaintance...
"Perfect Skin" kept me entertained for a few hours without really leaving a permanent impression. It stands out somewhat from other novels of the same type for the reasons above, but ultimately doesn't amount to much more than that. The style is easy, the characters are amusing, the plot isn't too saccharine. A good 'girly' book to read in the bath with a block of chocolate and a glass of something nice; or buy it as a present for that friend you always buy the latest yuppie book for.
6 stars out of 10
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5.0 out of 5 stars I laughed, I cried March 12 2002
Format:Hardcover
Where else could you find a story about a recently widowed father who pees on his date's cat?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect May 17 2012
By James Turnbull - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Perfect Skin is my favourite Nick Earl's book. I've re-read it several times now and enjoy it each time more and more. It's touching, funny and his main character has that charming haphazardness that Earls does so well. You can readily fall in love with the characters and their imperfections and you quickly find yourself wincing at Jon's experiences and egging him on as he tries to balance fatherhood, love and loss.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Skin in a Not-So-Perfect World May 16 2012
By Shannon L. Yarbrough - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Perfect Skin is a slice-of-life contemporary novel about Jon, a dermatologist, who suddenly finds himself raising a baby girl all by himself after his wife dies during child birth.

Unlike the age spots and skin cancer that Jon can meticulously remove with laser precision at work, its the blunders in real life that he embraces and accepts.

We see Jon's daily routines for what they are and for how they are different (or not) every day in some way - checking his email, running, walking the dog, hanging out with his coworkers, dating, and the interaction with his baby girl.

Ultimately it is the baby, nicknamed Bean, that comes first as it should be. Jon has plenty of pictures of her to prove it! But it is the life happening in between the bouts of parenthood that give this book color.

Jon finds a running partner in his new neighbor next door, Ash. He goes out for coffee with Katie. He hangs out with his male coworker friends for "book club" night, though no book discussion ever really happens. He finds himself caught up in each of their daily lives, but always returns his focus to Bean.

The reader shares in the everyday habits and routines that make up Jon's life, right down to that "Weasel" of a computer program that greets him every morning when he goes to check email. But it is these mundane details of every day that also make up our own lives, and like Jon, we just have to laugh at ourselves and make the best of it...and take lots of pictures.

Though the book lacked a certain element of drama and conflict for me, I still enjoyed slowing down a bit to savor a nice light-hearted comical read. This was Earls' first book I had read and I look forward to more.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talking is Good March 6 2003
By Andrew K. Quan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Two of my favourite literary characters are Louis Ironson - from Angels from America - who polemicizes, intellectualizes, pontificates and basically just talks and talks - and Mo, from the very funny comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For" who basically does the same. In the face of fear, pain or jealousy, they talk against the world, and yeah, it's blathering, but I find it charming. Probably because I do the same, which is maybe a reason why I'm a writer.
The main character in Perfect Skin does an awful lot of talking which biases me towards both liking him and liking the book.
Another reason why I like the book: I like books that are about people and relationships, that don't necessarily need big events to drive the story. Perfect Skin is a page-turner because you want to know what happens to the characters. It's about how we live our daily lives, how we relate to each other, and how we reach out to people.
A lot seems to be made about the humour in this book - and it's true, it's very very funny and enjoyable because of it - but perhaps it works all the better because of what lies underneath - weighty gusts of loss and hurt, recovery and survival.
I found it affecting and beautiful: a perfect little gem of a book that let me under the skin of some characters I was glad to meet and get to know.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book May 13 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Perfect Skin is one of those rare novels that wraps you up in a sunbeam of warmth as you read it. Like Charles Dickens, and more recently Kingsly Amis, Armistead Maupin and Nick Hornby, Nick Earls is one of those gifted writers that can lift a character out of the pages of a book and into your head and heart.

Perfect Skin is the laugh-out-loud funny, touching and human tale of Jon Marshall who's living life after the loss of his wife and infant daughters mother. Unsentimental, Perfect Skin follows Jon as he meanders through work, dating, friendship and being a sole parent.

My highest recommendations.

PS- if you love this you'll love Zigzag St, also by Earls.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most fun I've had reading a book, this year June 28 2005
By N. Horner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jon Marshall is a successful laser surgeon with a nice house and a baby named Lily, whom he affectionately refers to as "the Bean". So, what's wrong with Jon's world and why has everything turned out so completely different from what he'd anticipated life would be like in his 30's? Is his new friend Ashley really just a "running buddy" or could there be more to the friendship? Friends George, Oscar and Wendy help Jon face the challenges as he attempts to make sense of a world that has taken a sharp and unexpected turn.

It's too bad I'm such a slow reader because yesterday was totally shot, thanks to this book. The story of Jon Marshall is gripping because Earls blends intelligence, realism and humor with madcap situations, dangling unanswered questions that the protagonist convincingly sidesteps as he tells his story in first person. Where, for example, is the mother of his child Lily? Well, another reviewer has answered that, but try to forget before you read this book.

Apart from a few angst-ridden reflections that dragged on a bit too long, this was one of the best books I've read all year. The dialogue was witty, its hero incredibly easy to love and relate to in spite of (or maybe because of) his many insecurities and imperfections, and every character was well-defined. I particularly loved the fact that Jon's friends were the kind you can call at 3:00 a.m., knowing they'll be there for you in an emergency--but don't let them get wind of the stupid thing you did last night or they'll never let you live it down. In other words, they were true to life. Highly recommended, particularly for those who enjoy contemporary fiction.
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