In his first two, GG-shortlisted novels, Trevor Cole proved himself a master of drawing us into the shadowy side of human nature with sharp observation and warm wit. In Practical Jean, he goes a step further: this is a darkly humourous and revelatory tale of an ordinary, small-town woman with the usual challenges of middle age — a do-nothing husband, a family that refuses to understand her — who realizes her fondest wish is to protect her dearest friends from the indignities of aging and illness. And that's when she decides to kill them . . .
From the Hardcover edition.
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The sun was shining on the whole of Kotemee. Spangles trembled on the lake, shafts of gleam stabbed off the chrome of cars lining Main Street, and in Corkin Park the members of the Star-Lookout Lions, Kotemee’s Pee Wee League team, swung aluminum bats that scalded...
1. Jean’s family seems to value practicality to the exclusion of all else. How does Jean’s love of the beautiful and the exquisite conflict with her family’s values? Are beauty and practicality at odds with each other, or is there room for both? Do you think beauty can exist despite, or in the midst of...
“Practical Jean should be a starred pick for every book club. . . . [A] biting and black comedy of middle-class mores gone murderously wrong [that] combines diamond-cut social satire with thoughtful contemplations of friendship’s burdens, meaning and purpose. . . . This wise and funny writer finishes off his latest novel with an epilogue whose closing words will leave you laughing (or shuddering and laughing) for days.”
— The Globe and Mail
“Funny and dark and occasionally surprising. . . . A darkly comic look at friendship and the sometimes dubious values of practical thinking.”
— Edmonton Journal
“Wickedly funny. . . . This has to be one of the darkest comedies written by a Canadian in my memory. Every page has a droll surprise, a laconic statement of absurdity, a deadpan wink at the world.”
— SunTimes (Owen Sound)
“A clever and timely novel with plenty of bite.”
— Telegraph Journal (St. John)
"[A] rare thing -- a novel that tackles a deep, dark philosophical question through seemingly banal events and leaves the reader pondering for days after reading the last page. . . . Thought-provoking."
— Vancouver Sun
"A deliciously dark comedy that feeds off our deepest, primordial fear . . . a mischievous, subversive tour-de-force."
— Kitchener Waterloo Record
"With his diabolical deadpan, Trevor Cole reminds us that literary fiction can be at once thoughtful, provocative, and blackly funny. Practical Jean is wicked smart fun."
– Annabel Lyon, author of The Golden Mean
"Practical Jean may be the blackest comedy ever written about the white middle class. Hilarious and heartbreaking, piquant and poignant, it’s a grim pleasure to watch Jean Vale Horemarsh abandon herself to brutal altruism and to the fatal redemption of her dearest friends. Trevor Cole has deeded us an outstanding novel and done, memorably, what no one else has yet managed: taken the too-touted quality of practicality by the scruff and given it a killing shake."
– Bill Richardson, author of Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast
"This wicked take on female friendship gives chilling new meaning to the phrase "tough love." Practical Jean is Trevor Cole at his satirical best."
— Lynn Coady, author of Mean Boy
From the Hardcover edition.