Monday, September 27, 2010

Practical Jean, by Trevor Cole- Review

I was lucky enough to snag an advanced copy of Practical Jean through Goodreads Giveaway program recently, and was thrilled when on my first day of stay-cation it landed on my doorstep.

Jean has recently spent three months nursing her dying mother until her last breath.  It was awful, and has made a deep and lasting impression on her.  So while spending a girls only evening with her closest friends she realises she can't watch them grow old and suffer, it just wouldn't be the right thing to do.  What she decides is the right thing, turns out to be a complicated and fraught idea. Killing them off, one by one, right after she has given them an event of perfect bliss and happiness.  Because what else are good friends for?

Growing up I had a great love affair with Carey Grant's old black and white movie Arsenic and Old Lace, in which Carey Grant discovers his elderly old aunts have been killing off lonely old men with Arsenic in their tea, and considering it an act of charity.  Putting them out of their lonely misery while in a warm parlour visiting lovely women and drinking comforting tea, who would think that wasn't charity?  My friends and I went so far as to push for it to be the fall play in high school.
Of course to no avail. 
And I suppose between my love of Arsenic and Old Lace, and my great love of the Dexter series (tv and books)  it seemed inevitable I would enjoy Practical Jean.

Funny and oddly touching (I mean she essentially becomes a serial killer), Practical Jean was a great read.  I laughed, and I thought a lot about the relationships we have with others, and in the end put the book down with a sense of total satisfaction and a smile on my face.  Jean (and Trevor Cole) certainly left me happy.

Trevor Cole amazed me with his on the ball narration from a woman's perspective and his keen insight into female friendships.  If I hadn't known the writer was a man I would never have guessed it.  But more than anything I loved the reveals about each of Jean's friends while she was trying to figure out what would make each of them happiest.  And of course, Fran, the woman quite desperate to be one of Jean's inner circle, might have been my favorite character, especially at the end of the book (which you'll just have to read so you know what I mean!).

In some ways not at all what I expected and in others what I expected and more, I would recommend the book to almost anyone.  Though, I suspect it would be an especially good read for a book club full of women friends drinking big 'ol glasses of wine while giggling over it.

Practical Jean, By Trevor Cole
Published by McClelland & Stewart, September 2010

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