Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Review: Practical Jean by Trevor Cole

Practical Jean: A Novel (P.S.)

Jean Vale Horemarsh is content, for the most part, with the small-town life she’s built: a semi-successful career as a ceramics artist, a close collection of women friends (aside from that terrible falling-out with Cheryl years ago), a comfortable marriage with a kind if unextraordinary man. But it is only in watching her mother go through the final devastating stages of cancer that Jean realizes her true calling. No one should have to suffer the indignities of aging and illness like her mother did—and she, Jean Horemarsh, will take it upon herself to give each of her friends one final, perfect moment . . . and then, one by one, kill them.

Of course, female friendships are quite complicated things, and Jean is soon to discover that her plan isn’t as simple as she initially believed it to be.

Pages: 320 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Released: October 18, 2011

When I first heard about this book, I was excited. The blurb sounds like a fun dark comedy, the cover fits the blurb to a tee, and overall I knew that I would have a great time reading this. Then I read it and it only left me with mixed feelings.

Jean Vale Horemarsh had to take care of her dying mother, during the ordeal she realized that the entire process was horrible and didn’t want to see anyone else go through that. When her mother finally kicks the bucket, Jean is left with this feeling and wondering what to do. Her husband is worried that she isn’t showing any grieving signs and her friends keep telling her that they’ll be there for her, but Jean just can’t shake this annoying feeling.

Then it hits her. Dying, the way her mother died, was horrible. Dying, when you’re happy, is best. So she comes up with the plan to kill all of her closest friends, so they don’t have to suffer like her mother did. She meets with them, one by one, and tries her best to give them an evening of happiness before she murders them. It’s the least she could do for someone she cares so deeply about.



This was kind of hit and miss with me. The concept, the cover, and the synopsis made me feel like this would be a fantastic dark comedy to read, and for the most part it is. The very idea that Jean would feel compelled to kill her friends and make sure they are happy before death is a morbid topic. But every so often Cole will add some comedic moments that do make you laugh.

Sadly, I felt like the book dragged on at some points and I did feel bored. Jean was a character that I didn’t really care for. I don’t need to like the main character in order to like a book, but there has to be something interesting about them. Jean seems like a very nice woman, who decides to do something horrible in order to fit her own selfish needs. This sounds interesting, but I don’t know if it carried well in the book. At least for me, it didn’t.

The Cheryl side story was interesting at the beginning, but Cheryl has to be one of the most pathetic characters I've ever read. Reading her parts, even though it was needed in the story, did pull me out of Jean and her plot to kill her friends. Actually, I don't even think the Cheryl plot was needed, now that I think of it.
This is still a fun little book to read and if you like black comedy then you’ll definitely want to check this out.

3.5 stars

This book was provided by net galley.

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