Imperfect Pairings
Jackie Townsend
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Buy *Imperfect Pairings* by Jackie Townsend online

Imperfect Pairings
Jackie Townsend
Ripetta Press
387 pages
May 2013
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

buy this book now or browse millions of other great products at
previous reviewnext review

At the start of this fast-paced novel, Jamie exemplifies a successful American woman. At age 32, she is on track to make partner, thanks to long hours and a willingness to work anywhere; at home in San Francisco, she enjoys views of the Golden Gate Bridge; she is on comfortable, yet non-time-consuming, terms with her sister and mother (an esteemed attorney and a self-made business mogul respectively); and she has an educated, handsome boyfriend named Jack.

“Jack is short for John, he tells people. True, but John is Gian in Italian, short for Giovanni, the name she’d discovered on his passport only this evening. This was just before they boarded their Alitalia flight…”
The surprises, both for Jamie and readers, keep coming. During the flight, a groggy Jamie tries to follow Jack’s descriptions of his extensive family, the historic home, the business responsible for the once-upon-a-time wealth, the old vines that are the primary source of the family’s pride, and finally the downfall that led to his decade-long absence. While Jack had not previously shared this Italian opera of an upbringing with Jamie, author Jackie Townsend reveals the direction of the story by placing a family tree in front of the opening chapter.

Townsend, also the author of the novel Reel Life, once again presents an utterly believable main character (with a self-deprecating, sarcastic tone: “making a conscious effort to understand what she was drinking. She was thirty-two. Maybe it was time.”). Through the years covered in the novel, Jamie undergoes a realistic evolution in response to altered circumstances: a quick marriage to help sort out an impending green card issue; a difficult work project followed by a career stall; and frequent interactions with Jack’s family, both in America and Italy. Thanks in part to her father’s over-sharing with her younger self, the adult Jamie is aloof and eager to stay on her family’s female fast-track. But presented with the Ruffoli and Juliano connections, she starts to recall a time when she craved closeness, and observes that “…everyone else seems happy to be nestled here at home, in close proximity of each other, with good food, good conversation, and no need for entertainment of any kind…”

Imperfect Pairings, while being an enjoyable read, manages to cover a number of complex themes and offer a bit of a mystery. In addition to the romance of Jamie and Jack, the story lines of minor characters also support issues of career decisions and the pull of love—love in the form of romance as well as love in the form of patriotism, attachment to home and parents, adherence to tradition, and absorption in interests like winemaking. The difficulties of “having it all” emerge repeatedly, as well as the American bent toward materialism versus a simpler European way of life.

“This incessant need to make a difference, to prove her worth, where does it come from? Is it because of her Dad, because she couldn’t be the daughter he wanted? She adored him when she was a child. He had been a caregiver, a listener for her woes, as she was to him about the hurried, modern world that continually baffled him……….looking at it now, on this street corner in the present moment, staring at this man who makes her stomach flutter and her heart ache – where has her path led her, exactly?”
Descriptive phrases illuminate the surroundings: “She drops her head back on the pillow and its skeletal feathers poke at her skull,” “Pockets of mist are tucked here and there, so thick she can scoop them up in her hand,” and “The cloud cluster over Vesuvius has not changed: it remains frozen in time, the sea too, green with simmering patches of blue, nothing like the ocean at home.” Townsend’s readers will want to travel to Piemonte and the other lesser known sections of Italy to see the sights and hear the language: “’Matta da legare.’ It is the saying of my parents ‘She is so crazy, we have to tie her up.’” Wine aficionados will appreciate the book’s nuanced portions describing drinking, growing, selling and preserving the treasured Barolo wine. And all who enjoyed reading Reel Life with its ode to sisterhood should pick up Imperfect Pairings--the perfect book for a summer day spent reading on the deck or enjoying blue vistas at the beach.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Leslie Raith, 2013

Also by Jackie Townsend:

buy *Imperfect Pairings* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.