A Perfect Day Summary
by Richard Paul Evans

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A Perfect Day

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The protagonist, Robert Harlan, does not enjoy his employment as a radio station sales representative. After unexpectedly losing his job, his wife, Allyson, persuades him to complete a touching novel about the relationship between her and her dying father that Harlan had started some four years earlier. Upon completion, the novel is rejected by numerous publishers over a span of eight years before finally being published.

Once on the market, Harlan’s book, titled A Perfect Day, attains astounding success, reaching the best-seller lists. Harlan rapidly becomes a celebrity, going on numerous book tours, making television appearances, socializing with many elite people, and receiving movie deals for his book. Delighting in the subsequent publicity, money, and attention, he seeks even more glory and adulation, not realizing that he himself is changing. As the time he spends with his wife and daughter continues to dwindle, his relationship with them deteriorates to the point where he finally leaves home to bask in the limelight.

One day while relaxing in a Starbucks, Harlan strikes up a conversation with a stranger, which leads to a discussion about the most important things in life—love, family, long-term relationships. Through a source of “extrasensory” information, the stranger informs Harlan that Harlan only has forty days left to live. This startling announcement brings Harlan back to his senses. He decides to reclaim what is most important in his life, his wife, daughter, and their love and respect. The ending is rather surprising and could be better with further development. Overall, the book is well balanced and a very worthwhile read.