Every once in a while I get a hankering for Toronto. Not the Toronto I actually lived in, which was Etobicoke, but the Toronto I dream about – Rosedale, old quaint houses, you know, the areas I can’t afford to live in. As it turns out Harry, the very WASP protagonist of Don Gillmor‘s new novel Mount Pleasant can’t afford to live there either.
The difference between Harry and me is that he lives there and I don’t. Mount Pleasant is the story of Harry coming to terms with the fact that he is nearing the end of his career, living beyond his means and has nothing coming to him from his parent’s who wear the veneer of wealth. It is the story of the fabled old Toronto reaching its demise as the older generation dies off. A couple of bad investments here and there mean that there is nothing left.
Mount Pleasant starts off as a truly comedic novel. I was able to laugh at Harry and his pretensions. I enjoyed seeing him bite off more than he could chew and then proceed to lie about it in a futile attempt to make the situation better.
But by the end of the novel I was feeling rather tense. You see, Harry is utterly unlike me. I do not like debt. It makes me nervous. By way of contrast, Harry seems to be in denial about it and keeps spending extravagantly. Every time he charged something else to his credit card I shuddered. How is it that I could see possible solutions to his financial woes when he was blind to it all? I know that this type of drama appeals to many people, I’m just not one of them. I couldn’t get past the growing tension in my neck as a result of Harry’s spending.
Who would like this book? Schadenfreude¹ is generally something I enjoy in a novel. Just not about money. So if you can take pleasure in the humorous suffering of others when it comes to debt, you will have no problem with this book. I can say it really did make me laugh until the shadow of debt became too much for me. Mount Pleasant also paints a nice, upper class, elite picture of Toronto. I love being able to picture exactly where Harry is as he cruises along Bloor St and attends Occupy rallies at St. James Park.
1. Yes, it’s true. The whole reason I started a book blog was so that I could casually work this word into conversations.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.