"Mount Pleasant" by Don Gillmor
Harry Salter is a middle-aged man in an unhappy marriage and drowning in debt. But he has a plan. As he sits at his dying father's bedside, he realizes that his inheritance is the one thing that will save him. A million dollars from his father will wipe out his debt and let him start over in life.
But when the will is read, Harry finds out that all he has been left is $4200. His father's millions are gone. As he tries to find the money he uncovers family secrets and unsavoury business decisions as he navigates a world where the thirst for money drives people to do things you wouldn't expect.
Mount Pleasant by Don Gillmor is a novel about money, debt, life, death and love. A dark comedy, it takes these themes and put them into a context I haven't before read in a novel, your average middle aged man who you probably pass on the streets many times a day but don't know what turmoil lurks inside.
I have mixed reactions to this book. There is much that I liked and much that I didn't leaving me with an average feeling toward the book. I love that it's set in Toronto and how the city comes across vividly. It's set in the upper-class neighbourhoods of the city that many people only dream of and is seen through the eyes of someone who is desperate to maintain his financial stature. I also like how the Occupy Toronto movement was woven into the story, a recent event that was the talk of the city for many months.
On the other side though, I just couldn't relate to the character of Harry. Which is strange for me because I've seen quite a few people in this same situation, in debt to maintain a certain lifestyle and falling deeper and deeper into it trying to get out. Maybe this is because I just couldn't put myself into his shoes. I also found the book a little slow for the first half. This was remedied in the second half and I found myself reading with much more interest. I think I was looking for more of the investigation into what happened to the money, and this picked up in the second half.
This isn't just a novel about debt and trying to find missing money, it's a book about relationships, of observations about how we view money in today's society, and how life is viewed as we get older. While this book may have not been the best fit for me, I think this is a Canadian novel you will be hearing a lot about this year. Be warned though, the book comes along with many "oh man, I need to get my stuff in order so I don't end up like this" moments.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada. The opinions expressed above are purely my own.