Practical Jean: A Novel
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Jean wouldn’t be able stand it if something unfortunate were to befall her friends—that’s why decides to kill them herself, before anything else can harm them. Bad Marie meets Arsenic and Old Lace in this darkly humorous story of a woman whose overpowering love for her friends moves her to murder each and every one of them. Practical Jean, the U.S. debut of acclaimed Canadian author Trevor Cole, is a “biting and black comedy of middle-class mores gone murderously wrong” that “combines diamond-cut social satire with thoughtful contemplations of friendship” (Globe and Mail). A deliciously dark satire with roots that spread from Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal to Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, Cole’s Practical Jean is a razor’s edge dissection of relationships, faithfulness, and homicide. After all, what are friends for?
said Jean. “So personable.” “I know, I know, they’re great, they’re so great. And I saw this bouquet, and you can ignore all the flowers” – Louise made spattery gestures with her free hand at the many coloured blooms –“because they’re just, well I know you’re not into those. But I just thought, you know, the leaves were nice.” She giggled again. Taking the bouquet, Jean knew there was nothing interesting about the leaves. They were just more of the typical florist greenery – a few cuttings of
like the flight of a magnificent bird, or the march of a whole field of kudzu. She had never felt more sure of herself, of her plan, of what she could do for her friend. For all her friends. “You have every right to think of yourself and your needs right now. Tonight is about Dorothy Perks. Roy will be just fine with Milt.” “Are you sure?” “I couldn’t be more sure. Now, what I need to know is, can Roy show Milt the way back to your place?” “Of course he can.” Dorothy frowned. “It’s not like he
buttons commanded her attention. “I hate these buttons,” said Jean, taking hold of the glass of wine Adele placed in her hand. “I hate this jacket.” “It looks quite nice on you.” “I only wore it because my arms are fat.” “No they’re not.” Jean sat up suddenly, spilling some of the wine on her hand before she could set it down, and wrestled with the jacket to get it off her. It might have been alive it was so hard to get off! But she did finally manage it, flinging it across the room, and
against Adele’s small, marked frame, feeling the velveteen brush of her tight skin, Jean was aware of her own body’s fluid expanse, its carnal heft, like the weight of her responsibility. And so, still just a bit lightheaded, she embarked on her quest to make Adele happy, to receive the pleasure Adele seemed determined to provide, and to give the same in return. The receiving, it turned out, was … oh … remarkably easy. It was tender and deep, felt both sisterly and sinful, and Jean was quick to
trying to reach you. Nobody said anything to me, I only know because I’m on the system.” The system, the system. Jean was starting to regret ever getting him onto it. “All right, Welland,” she said. “Thank you for telling me.” “So where are you? I called your home number and Milt said you’ve been staying at Natalie Skilbeck’s house, but there’s no answer there.” An image appeared in Jean’s mind of Natalie, dragged out of view behind the kitchen island and shoved up against one of the low