A Perfect Mother

A bracing, hypnotic story of mid-life crisis about the complexities of love, relationship and legacy.


During a visit to Trieste in Northern Italy to research his long lost great-grandfather, Jacob meets Charlotte and Jane, and the three are forced to confront their individual and shared histories. Their sense of themselves is challenged and they must piece together a future none of them saw coming. More info

ISBN: 9780995647848
Format: Hardback
Dimensions: 216 x 138mm
Length: 224 pages
Publication Date: 01/09/2018
Genre: Literary Fiction

Katri Skala discusses her novel on Youtube

About the Book

A Perfect Mother asks big questions: What do we inherit from the broken histories of our parents and our grandparents and how does this shape our own sense of identity? Can we ever escape the past? Are stories, the ones we are told and the ones we tell, integral to how we know each other and how we love? What does it mean to be a good parent, let alone the perfect mother?


‘Ms Skala conveys the shadowed charm of these story-haunted stones. Her Trieste is never an abstraction, but it becomes a potent metaphor for the mask of beauty that violence may wear.’

The Economist


A Perfect Mother is a highly ambitious novel of ideas and a powerfully involving drama.’

Derek Johns, author of Ariel: a literary life of Jan Morris 


‘A wonderfully accomplished novel…It manages to be complex and compulsively readable at the same time… It tells a story of attraction, parenthood and madness with great psychological subtlety, while also creating an unforgettable sense of place, equally at home in England and in Italy. I haven’t encountered as beautiful a portrait of Trieste and its culture in many years.’

Vesna Goldsworthy, author of Gorsky and Monsieur Ka 



‘A truly impressive first novel … Atmospheric, fascinating and very moving. I highly recommend it.’

Christina Patterson, columnist, broadcaster and author of The Art of Not Falling Apart



A Perfect Mother is a gripping read – subtle and intense, with real dramatic tension as Jacob tries to decipher the truth about Charlotte…Trieste is delectably done, and a great locus for a book that hangs on the opposition of what’s settled, familial, bourgeois, accrues wealth; and what’s displaced and fugitive in economic, psychic, historical and racial terms.

Alison Fell, author of The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro and Tricks of the Light 



Boyd Tonkin’s article on A Perfect Mother in The Economist

The Literature of Trieste

Katherine Skala article in The Times

‘The title of my recent novel ‘A Perfect Mother’ is an ironic riff on the traditional notion of the perfect nuclear family… I wrote against the idea of perfection and certainty. I wrote to embrace complexity and difficulty.’


‘This is a complex tale of love and loyalties, of mental illness, the impact of loss and the fragility of trust…A dark tale with depth that draws the reader in. An impressive debut.’

Jackie Laws, Never Imitate



‘A Perfect Mother is a novel that delves into the past and how that can influence who we are. The past cannot be escaped it is there no matter how painful. A deeply complex novel of families and relationships past and present. Katri Skala is not afraid of bringing challenging subjects into what is at times a dark storyline. A Perfect Mother is superb first novel and one I highly recommend.’

John Fish,  The Last Word Book Review 



10 Things I’d Like by Readers to Know about Me by Katri Skala for Female First


‘Unlocking my creativity comes with painstaking attention to finding the best expression for the half-formed thing that is nudging up against the membrane of my language-brain. One word after the other, after another, into the unknown.  Sometimes, there will be a blurt, a rush of unbidden words. They are not always the best but the pleasure of the expulsion is great, and will often give me momentum to continue even if later I find myself deleting or re-working the blurt. I’ve learned over the years to accept this process.’

Katri Skala: On Writing Women Writers, Women’s Books

About the Author

Born in France of an American mother and a Viennese father, Katri Skala has lived in the United States and across Europe. She has worked as a senior arts administrator, script editor, and literary editor in the field of new writing in Britain and the US for a range of organisations that include Channel Four, BBC, the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Arvon Foundation, the University of East Anglia, and the Writers Centre Norwich. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in literature and journalism from Vassar (in the US), Cardiff and the University of East Anglia. She has had published short stories and magazine features. A Perfect Mother is her first novel. She works as a mentor to writers in all genres and at all stages of their writing life.