Nuts in the steel cut oatmeal: The mixture of humour and Canadian politics in Terry Fallis’s “The Best Laid Plans”

bestlaidplanseditYes this book is about Canadian politics, which is what turned me off from wanting to read it for quite awhile. But this book kept coming up on Canadian-books-you-should-read lists, so I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did! Although it is focussed on Canadian politics, this book touches on the ludicrousy of politics in general so I think this is a story that a person from any country can appreciate.

Daniel, a speech writer for the Liberal Party leader, decides to leave his position after becoming disillusioned with the world of politics and being cheated on by his girlfriend. But to save face with the Party, Daniel agrees, as his final duty, to find a Liberal candidate for the Cumberland riding to keep up the Party’s appearance in the fiercely Conservative area. Daniel makes a bargain with Angus, his new landlord, agreeing to teach the English for Engineers class at the university (a task Angus loathes) in exchange for Angus’s name on the Cumberland ballot under the Liberal Party. In a shocking twist of events, the reluctant Angus wins his riding and is thrust into Canadian politics. Daniel is forced back into negotiating the twists and turns of Canadian politics, but this time with a Member who refuses to be governed by anything other than his heart and his values.

I found myself laughing out loud in every chapter either because of some shocking plot point (like Angus stripping in front of Daniel and nonchalantly jumping naked into the lake). Or it was finding the humour in the everyday normal (like the reaction of voters to the two punk Petes canvasing for Angus). Or Fallis’s brilliant wordplay. I’m still smiling at his use of politic jargon and sexual innuendo to describe Daniel catching his girlfriend cheating with the Opposition House Leader. It was so cleverly worded and so hilarious that I handed the book to my husband and forced him to read those pages so he could understand why I was laughing so hard.

The only thing that I found slightly annoying was how neurotic Daniel could be about every detail. It seemed that he was barely able to relax for a moment in the novel and his obsessive worrying got a little on my nerves. Also, Angus was a little over the top as a character, which did sometimes add to the humour but made him seem less realistic. His ability to find solutions that were just perfect for his values and the economy was a little too packaged to be believable. But then again, this is a fictional narrative designed to entertain readers and it did very well do that.

This book is funny and brilliantly worded, and provides a unique view into Canadian politics and the people involved. Despite the couple of hiccups for me, I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan on picking up Terry Fallis’s new book “No Relation”.

4/5 bacon strips

P.S. This is the book I read in Paris. Here is a snapshot of me reading in the Jardins des Tuileries enjoying the rare hour of sunshine we had on our vacation. IMG_5122IMG_5123

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