If I could turn back time to read The Perfect Wife afresh again I really would - I loved it. It’s an interesting concept; a robot as a replacement for a missing (presumed dead) wife. It could sound like perfection to some, but technician Tim takes it a level further in A.I. Abbie, making a ‘cobot’ capable of hosting his wife’s memories and feelings, turning the machine into so much more. And asking the question. ‘What makes us human?’ When does A.I. become more than a series of coding? I did feel as uncomfortable as Abbie when she was treated more as a commodity, a thing devoid of rights and personal respect.

The Perfect Wife raised lots of interesting questions and I enjoyed being challenged in my beliefs. I’m not sure if this was Delaney’s intention, but that was my reaction to the story.

Like Delaney’s previous novels it felt quite carefully crafted, weaving through two narratives that always kept me wanting to read just another page (or twenty). The plot is handled like David Bowie turning that ball through his fingers in Labyrinth*, twisting and turning its way through the characters and the pages they inhabit. The perfectness that Tim creates with Abbie is simultaneously at odds with his son, Danny, who has Heller’s syndrome, a profound form of autism. It was insightful for ‘Abbie’ to find a way to communicate with Danny - finding a logical way to decipher what he meant by his repetition of phrases from Thomas the Tank Engine to convey what he wanted for breakfast. I liked the positive way that this showed Danny’s autism; that perhaps Tim was the failure for not seeing what his son was trying to communicate. That in trying to mould Danny through an extreme version of the ABA Protocol and the quite unpalatable school that he placed Danny in, he failed to just ‘be’ with his son. Whether this was as a result of him thinking that perfection in a person can be obtained, or in just wanting the best for his son, is another question waiting for us to debate.

There are so many things just itching to be discussed! But needless to say, this is one of those books that you just won’t be able to put down. I absolutely loved it from beginning to end.

The Perfect Wife is out on 8th August 2019 from Quercus Books - don’t miss it!

  • I know it wasn’t Bowie himself manipulating the crystal ball, but you get my meaning!