Joe Robbins reviews Sarah Bird’s novel How Perfect is That?

How Perfect Is ThatHey! Joe Robbins here, free-lance CFO, amateur boxer, and occasional sleuth living in Austin, Texas.

I don’t often review books, but Sarah Bird is one of our best hometown authors, and her novel How Perfect is That? is as funny as a great SNL skit. Check out this paragraph:

“Bankruptcy? Who am I kidding? I was bankrupt when I married Trey. I believed he would rescue me. But his succubus of a mother sliced my oxygen hose and left me gasping on the ocean floor.”

Meet Blythe Young, the heroine of Sarah Bird’s novel, How Perfect is That?

Blythe is having a bad day. Not long ago she was riding high, married to Trey Dix of the famous Dix family, one of the big names in Pemberton Heights, Austin, Texas. Then one day, Trey moves on, and Blythe finds herself ejected from the family with nothing, all because of the disastrous pre-nup the succubus forced her to sign.

Now Blythe has sunken to catering to her old society friends in Pemberton Heights.

From Susie 3

But the business is not going well. In fact, it’s going so poorly Blythe resorts to faking the food:

“Kippie Lee yanks open the compactor, and her mouth drops in horror as she reads the name on the wrapping I was trying to hide. ‘Sam’s Club?’ She points to the trays of food waiting to be presented to the cream of Austin society. ‘This is what you’re going to serve?’

“‘No, no, of course not.’ I pirouette to shield the trays of Sam’s taquitos I’d planned to slip through customs as Petites Tournedos Béarnaise à la Mexicaine.”

I could go on with these quotes all day. Maybe I will.

This novel is the perfect vehicle for Sarah Bird to poke fun at the well-heeled Austin crowd:

”AH, PEMBERTON HEIGHTS, the creamy white filling squirting out of Austin’s exclusive Tarrytown Twinkie.”

Everything is fair game for ridicule in How Perfect is That?: wives, husbands, diets, drugs, politics, sycophantic interior decorators, even the shoes:

“Shoes? The Christian Louboutins, of course, with their ultraexclusive sliver of red on the inside of the heels. I want to broadcast class, not go Sex and the City with Jimmy Choos. I want to get paid, not laid. But which ones? Are the berry peep-toes accessorized with a Swarovski crystal the size of a golf ball too much? I think not.”

This is classic stuff here, folks. Honest, I laughed out loud while reading the novel, many times.

Blythe’s troubles keep piling up: she loses her client and has to run from an IRS inspector who is hunting her for tax evasion. Desperate for a place to hid, Blythe seeks out her college friend Millie. Just as her van runs out of gas, it coasts to a stop in front of the Seneca House.

Seneca House is the ramshackle residence for college kids where Millie is housemother and spiritual guide. Blythe’s actions soon alienate all the residents, including Millie, and she finds herself with a different set of problems. As the story unfolds, Blythe must pay her dues, wrestle with her conscience, and learn hard lessons to have any hope of redemption.

Sarah Bird was voted Best Austin Author four times by the readers of the Austin Chronicle.Bluff View 010

Sarah Bird has several novels set in Austin.  With scenery like this, who can blame her?


Best, Joe.




Disclaimer: Joe Robbins is a fictional character. Even so, his opinions leap from the keyboard unbidden, and thus, out of necessity, the author and the publisher disavow any responsibility for his words.



Joe Robbins, an amateur detective with mixed emotions, is the hero of three novels: A Fateful Greed, A Just Rage, and A Siren’s Love.