To start a blog post with a weak title is probably not the smartest thing to do and I do think Terry Fallis’ title is weak. While reading this compelling story, I just could never remember the title. Finally I wrote it down. Because the book is excellent. And the story of the book is excellent.
Terry Fallis wrote about the political scene in Ottawa, a scene his main character, Daniel Addison, was trying to escape. His way out was to find a Liberal party candidate in a totally Conservative riding just outside Canada’s capital. By cajoling and dealing, he talks fellow university professor, Angus McLintock, into being the candidate as long as he doesn’t have to speak, go to meetings, campaign or in any other way waste his time. Angus’ name is on the ballot. Period.
Fallis’ satirical story gives a unique and humorous slant to party politics. Angus McLintock gets elected by a huge fluke and then, amazingly, goes on to win public support by being an honest man and not by following the party leader. He thinks for himself. And it works.
And that is the similarity between Angus and Terry Fallis, the book’s author. Faced by a whole year of rejections from the publishing world, Fallis self-published The Best Laid Plans. He did it his way. Next he won the prestigious Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. You can bet the publishing world took notice then.
Three characters in the book are outstanding: the crusty professor, Angus, who writes letters to his deceased wife, the disillusioned speech writer, Daniel Addison, who grows from party-politician-back-room guy to Angus convert, and the five times ran-and-lost, eighty-one-year-old Muriel Parkinson. She hasn’t lost a whit in intelligence or usefulness, even though she is in a seniors’ facility.
The book, then, gets a five-star review from me. Canadians who are just sick of the same old party platitudes or who enjoy satire will love it. The rest of the world can learn a little about Canada and a lot about human nature. And they can probably easily take a lesson from Angus that will apply in their own country.
Have you read Terry Fallis’ book? What did you think of its portrayal of Canada’s political system? Leave a comment about this or other great books.