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'Shows the ways in which we are all, always, having to reimagine the story of our lives' Refinery29
'Subtle, astute' Observer
'A moving investigation of love, loss and parenthood' Esquire
'Mind-blowing . . . brilliant and fearless' Elif Batuman

The perfect song. The biggest dream. The love of her life.

It’s the early days of the new millennium, and Laura has arrived in New York City’s East Village in the hopes of recording her first album. A songwriter with a one-of-a-kind talent, she’s just beginning to book gigs with her beautiful best friend when she falls hard for a troubled but magnetic musician whose star is on the rise. Their time together is stormy and short-lived – but will reverberate for the rest of Laura’s life.

Fifteen years later, Laura’s teenage daughter is asking questions about her father, questions Laura does not want to answer. Laura has built a stable life in Brooklyn that bears little resemblance to the one she envisioned all those years ago, and she’s taken pains to close the door on what was and what might have been. When her best friend – now a famous musician – comes to town, opportunity knocks for Laura for a second time. Has growing older changed who she is and what she most wants? After all the sacrifices and compromises she’s made along the way, how much is she still that girl from Ohio, with big talent and big dreams?

Funny, wise and tender-hearted, Perfect Tunes explores the fault lines in our most important relationships, and asks whether dreams deferred can ever be reclaimed.
Praise for Emily Gould
'Emily Gould is massively talented, just as good at devastating us with an emotional truth as she is at amusing us with a clever joke' Curtis Sittenfeld
‘Emily Gould recreates with wit and insight the New York I know: a place full of fame and money that's not yours, where friends become family and lovers become ex-lovers, and the big questions about your life stay unanswered, and unanswerable, for a long time’ Chad Harbach
'A sharp study of female friendship, that treacherous terrain where envy and deep fondness often go hand in hand' Observer
‘A wry, sharply observed coming-of-age story for the post-recession era’ People
‘A vivid exploration of the missed connections and overwhelming isolation of modern urban life . . . Compulsively readable’ Los Angeles Times
‘It points to Ms Gould's abilities as a keen-eyed noticer and her knack for nailing down her ravenous observations with energy and flair’ New York Times

Photograph by Sylvie Rosokoff

Emily Gould is the author of the novels Perfect TunesFriendship, and the essay collection And the Heart Says Whatever. With Ruth Curry, she runs Emily Books, which publishes books by women as an imprint of Coffee House Press. She has written for The New York TimesNew YorkThe New YorkerBookforum, and many other publications. She lives in New York City with her family.

  • Publisher: Scribner UK (September 2, 2020)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471175053

'A story of the challenges women face trying to nurture both their children and their own creativity. Generous and truthful – painfully so on occasion – it captures something of the elusive buoyancy of those "perfect tunes".' Observer

'... we meet Laura at flashpoints throughout the next few years, when she’s swapped Marshall amps for motherhood and finds her youthful dreams are incompatible with the reality of raising her daughter alone. I’m a sucker for a New York novel and a rock ‘n’ roll novel so Perfect Tunes hit my sweet spot and will also appeal to anyone who loved Daisy Jones & The Six.Sarra Manning, Red August best books

'Her writing is observant and unfussy, and she has a knack for addressing serious subjects, such as the hardships of parenting and the darkness of depression, while keeping things light… The pleasure of this book is in Gould’s astute details about everything from a hangover (which made Laura’s head feel like a “black banana”) to relationships.' Washington Post

Perfect Tunes has many of those big before-and-after moments and many of those rippling after-effects; it shows the ways in which we are all, always, having to reimagine the story of our lives… Through it all, Gould's insights into what makes up the sometimes barely perceptible beats of our lives are sensitive and spot-on — as is her perfect description of what it's like to have sex in a too-close-to-the-ceiling loft bed.’ Refinery29 

‘A heartfelt exploration of the mother-daughter relationship and what it means to let go of the life you once wanted for yourself.’ Bustle

‘The perennial conflict between motherhood and career, but not the way most readers might expect… doesn’t fit the clichés. It’s an easy read that constantly takes unexpected detours… wonderfully subtle… We all need some perfect tunes in our lives.’ New York Journal of Books

‘The internet’s foremost chronicler of the millennial condition… looks back on the 21st century and draws a line through the decades-long series of little choices that make us who we are.’ Harper’s Bazaar

‘Fans of Daisy Jones & the Six will appreciate Emily Gould’s Perfect Tunes – a story about one mother’s journey to pursue her singing dreams and her daughter’s quest to find the answers she’s desperately searching for 15 years later.’ Marie Claire

‘This exploration of music, motherhood, identity, and the dividing line between love and lust feels like a time capsule of post-9/11 New York, and its time jump to present-day Brooklyn will feel familiar to many readers struggling to keep families intact under less-than-ideal circumstances.’ Vogue

‘It's as much a meditation on what it means to grow up as it is an ode to motherhood and love in its purest form.’ InStyle

'Perfect Tunes is an intoxicating blend of music, love, and family from one of the essential writers of the internet generation. From the obsessive spark of first love to the complexities of mother-daughter relationships, Emily Gould captures life’s ups, downs, and in-betweens with wisdom and wry humour, giving us one of the great New York coming-of-age stories.' Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter

'Perfect Tunes is mind-blowing. I have yet to read any text longer than like one page by Emily Gould in which she doesn't articulate something I often thought, or felt, but never previously articulated or acknowledged. She is brilliant and fearless. Her take on mothers and daughters, and daughters' boyfriends, and daughters' boyfriend's mothers, and daughters' daughter's boyfriends, is full of unspeakable insights, or at least I thought they were unspeakable, but there they are. Now I want everyone I know to read this book and talk about it with me.' Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed

'Perfect Tunes is a zippy and profound story of love, loss, heredity and parenthood. I gulped it down, as will all mothers, New Yorkers, music fans, and lovers of quick-moving novels that are both funny and deep. I loved every page.' Emma Straub, author of The Vacationers

'Sharply observant . . . Gould's portrait of a would-be artist as a young woman offers fresh, poignant insights into the challenges faced by the city's transplanted dreamers.' Publishers Weekly

'The author of Friendship returns with a second novel about the intricacies of relationships between women, this time centred on a mother and daughter searching for answers across the mysterious gulf of the mother's past. As Marie asks questions about her mother's youth as a songwriter in New York City, Laura must open the door to a time in her life that she sought to forget. Brimming with gemlike insight and humour, Perfect Tunes is a moving investigation of love, loss and parenthood.' Esquire

'Perfect Tunes, her second novel, which tells the story of a friendship, a tumultuous love affair and motherhood, is just the right balance of acerbic and warm. The novel follows a young songwriter and musician in early-aughts New York, so bonus points for music scene and jeans nostalgia.' Literary Hub

'A subtle and complex meditation on motherhood and how it can throw all of our choices, and their costs, into sharp relief... pitch-perfect observations about life, youth and infatuation that sear with emotional accuracy.' Los Angeles Review