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Sussex Drive: A novel Paperback – Oct 2 2012

1.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 2 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307362213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307362216
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 1.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #262,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


A 49th Shelf Most Anticipated Book [Fall 2012]
“Svendsen…writes about behind-the-scenes political shenanigans with a sassy, knowing, media-savvy, cinema-swift assurance…. Like Primary Colors, Sussex Drive is unabashedly entertaining and uses the privilege of fiction to talk about the behind-the-scenes drama that shapes public life. This novel is especially to be welcomed because it’s the type of book Canadian writers rarely tackle, engaging public political issues as well as domestic life and borrowing heavily from the techniques of genre literature…. In using Ottawa gossip as a jumping off point for inquiring into the state of our national political soul, Svendsen has given us a novel that keeps us amused while also provoking sharper thoughts.”
National Post

“A barbed satire that nicely skewers Canadian political life. . . . It makes Canadian politics so entertaining, it belongs on the same shelf as Terry Fallis’s 2008 Leacock Award winner, The Best Laid Plans. . . . Svendsen delivers her lively yarn in a breezy, savvy style. . . . Canadian politics has never been as exciting—and as rollickingly funny—as it is in Sussex Drive.”
Winnipeg Free Press
“Yes, Prime Minister. Linda Svendsen serves up life on Parliament Hill, and its denizens, on skewers. Delicious!.... Linda Svendsen . . . has a finely tuned ear for gossip, a wicked sense of humour and a lucid sense of geopolitics. One would hardly think she’s writing about Ottawa. . . . Under Svendsen’s deft touch, Ottawa politics are dirty and dangerous, at home and abroad. . . . In a delicious moment for journalists—or all who write political dialogue in their heads—Svendsen gives us a succulent version of a Greg Leggatt/Bob Newhart call to the GG. . . . Politics are so complex. Thank goodness for Linda Svendsen to explain it. More please.”
Toronto Star
“There is something in Svendsen’s prose that made me stop and wonder how she so accurately knows the threats to our democracy. . . . Maybe fiction can help wake us up.”
 —MP Elizabeth May, rabble.ca
Sussex Drive draws to the forefront the ways that those opposed to the government’s views can be silenced. The power, the spin, the backroom dealings that we like to think are part of other country’s political systems are certainly part of ours as well.”
The Vancouver Sun book club
“Using her experience in writing short fiction and screenplays, Svendsen’s snappy dialogue and highly visual scenes zoom along at breakneck speed. She deftly captures an imaginary Ottawa where familiar personalities, history and issues meld with darkly dysfunctional political manoeuvrings. . . . The real strength of this novel is Svendsen’s characters. Love them and hate them—and you will—these people seem real as they march, stumble and ultimately careen toward a resolution. . . . You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll love this novel.”
Guelph Mercury (also appears in The Record)
 “You can’t fool us, Linda Svendsen! It’s pretty darn clear that the characters in your frisky new novel bear more than passing resemblance to real-life residents of a certain famous Ottawa street. . . . As thinly veiled as a double-entendre. . . . Only in Canada could a political roman à clef be animated by a non-confidence motion and bickering about the Constitution. Svendsen coaxes well-researched material into a light, breezy read that hints at more formidable literary chops.”
 “Literary satire is something of an outlier in CanLit, which makes Linda Svendsen’s new novel Sussex Drive—a witty send-up of Stephen Harper’s ruthless rise to power—a welcome pleasure.”
The Tyee
“Canadian politics is made more satirical, more fun, and more thoughtful in a new novel, Sussex Drive. . . . Like any good satire, it takes recent political history and current Canadian political culture, makes up some names and creates fascinating characters that look somewhat familiar, but are completely the genius of the author. I’ve started it and it’s hard to put down. It’s incredibly insightful.”
 “A funny, impolitic novel written in the tradition of Joe Klein’s Primary Colours and Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife. With its confined chronology and a relationship to reality more along the lines of the TV show Spitting Image, . . . it is certainly entertaining. . . . Sussex Drive is a silly novel, but also an important one, an effective satire which asks important questions about our political system, all the while it thoroughly entertains.”
Pickle Me This (blog)
“A truly Canadian satire that tackles serious political issues with aplomb using equal amounts of humour and intrigue. [A] little gem of a book. . . . Despite the depressing seriousness of the overarching themes, I laughed out loud more times than I care to admit. To bring a reader from fits of laughter to the pits of despair and back in a repeated cycle takes a special talent, and I must concede that it was on full display here. I was also thoroughly impressed with the quality of writing showcased in this novel. There were so many times where I literally stopped reading to appreciate the way something was phrased—how it rolled off the tongue, or sat so poetically in my mind’s eye. The mess of contradictions that makes us human is also examined with the skill of a surgeon. Issues of immense controversy are handled with delicacy and surprising poignancy. . . . I couldn’t stop talking about this book with anybody that happened to be in earshot whilst reading it, and I’m sure there will be plenty more subjected to my evangelistic zeal in the next few weeks. If you were at all considering this book, do yourself a favour and take the leap.”
The Indiscriminate Critic (blog)

“In Sussex Drive, Linda Svendsen takes us deep behind the lines of Ottawa’s politics, polls and pomp, and into the lives of Canada’s two most powerful women. By turns shocking, funny, sizzling and illuminating, this story is brilliantly written with an unnerving authenticity that makes it seem all too real. You’re going to want to read this.”
—Terry Fallis, author of Canada Reads winner The Best Laid Plans and Up and Down
“Sharp and funny. . . . An insider’s book with great gossip and surprising plot twists, it will keep Ottawa talking for months.”
—Stevie Cameron, author of On the Farm and On the Take
“In our times Sussex Drive seems far from Camelot and so near to the Sunday service in Red Deer. In her rollicking novel, Linda Svendsen invents misbehaving Mounties, separatists in Rideau Hall, an opposition leader named Monsieur Triste, an African-born governor general caught up in her country’s tragedy, a prime minister’s wife determined to run her own show, and a prime minister marked by his ‘lumpen sourness.’  These are the unforgettable characters who hilariously rewrite our recent history.”
—John English, author of Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau: 1919–1968 and Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau: 1968–2000
“Sparkling, witty and insightful! In this edgy and terrific satire we see Linda Svendsen’s eye for revealing detail, ability to create real characters, and crisp prose—everything that made those who read Marine Life want more. She targets politics in a way recognizable even to people who live not in Ottawa but Washington, D.C. Blending the political and personal, Sussex Drive shows us the brutality of political life and the essential humanity of those in it. Trollope might have written a book like this—if he’d collaborated with Jane Austen.”
—Robert A. Lehrman, novelist and former chief speechwriter to U.S. Vice President Al Gore
“Can Ottawa possibly be this out of control? It can be if it’s dominated by two fabulous women who happen to be the wife of the PM, and the Governor General herself. Sussex Drive, funny, chilling and addictive, gets my vote.”
—Judith Timson, author and journalist

“A witty, funny, sexy romp that flirts with international intrigue, love, lust and duty in an alternate Ottawa that seems eerily real. Svendsen’s novel is a delicious, subversive read.”
—Paulette Bourgeois, writer and screenwriter 

About the Author

Linda Svendsen's linked collection, Marine Life, was published in Canada, the United States and Germany and her work has appeared in the Atlantic, Saturday Night, O. Henry Prize Stories, Best Canadian Stories and The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Marine Life was nominated for the LA Times First Book Award and released as a feature film. Svendsen’s TV writing credits include adaptations of The Diviners, At the End of the Day: The Sue Rodriguez Story, and she co-produced and co-wrote the miniseries Human Cargo, which garnered seven Gemini Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award. She received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006. Svendsen is a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. She was born in the riding of Mount Pleasant and raised in Coquitlam-Moody.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Thank you to Random House Canada for sending me a copy of Sussex Drive: A (satirical!) novel in exchange for an honest review.

When the American elections finally ended, I realized two things: 1) I now know more about Ohio that I ever cared to know. 2) Canadian politics seem so much duller.

Linda Svendsen’s Sussex Drive taps in the world of Canadian politics and attempts to add emotion, drama and humour. There are moments of genius in Svendsen’s satirical novel which follow some curiously familiar characters and events: a Conservative Prime Minister and his wife who dream of a majority government, an African-Canadian Governor General and the inevitable proroguing of Parliament.

But as clever as Svendsen is with peppering Canadianisms throughout Sussex Drive, I just couldn’t finish it. There’s a frantic pace to the novel but not much of a plot. The characters are strangely annoying.

Sussex Drive is worth a flip through if not just for some of the hilarious references to Canadian culture. All the major players on Parliament Hill get a jab from the CBC to the Real Housewives of Hockey Players. But even Canadians get bored of making fun of themselves, eh?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was unable to finish this book for several reasons. I found the characters unlikeable, the story line confusing and the writing style frustrating and annoying. The use of french phrases throughout rather than being clever became quickly irritating. This woman obviously doesn't like the current Canadian Prime Minister (the only good thing I can say about this endeavour) but that doesn't excuse this mishmash of a unintelligible rant.
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Format: Paperback
What a disappointing read - the writing is just plain weak. Events are a silly mishmash of incidents and coincidents, (even a volcano coincides with a 'dangerous' event). I felt the author was trying too hard to put 'smart' bits into the story from a collection of notes rather than letting the plot flow. (Example "Pablo, (Becky's son), was knocked out by a slyly potent melatonin Becky carried for jetlag." Her characters are all one dimensional. It seems the purpose of the book is not to tell a good story, but rather to portray Conservatives as a horrid bunch who plot every move with evil intent. Very simple.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f82fe04) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0f1d08) out of 5 stars "Satire is hard" - Barbie Dec 24 2012
By C.W. Petersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In an era where people struggle with the definition of irony, satire is often just too much work. There were times when I encountered some tough sledding in this book, but in the end it was really a satisfying read. And after, I found it resonating whenever anything to do with government came up, for weeks and weeks. I doubt I'll think of government the same way for quite a while.
HASH(0x9f790be8) out of 5 stars Wild, funny, on the mark Jan. 14 2014
By Leo Doucet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Linda Svendsen can write well when she wants to. She obviously had a lot of fun with this book and the results are wild, funny, and on the mark. Should be read by every voting Canadian.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f9c56ec) out of 5 stars Not for me. Aug. 30 2013
By Janet Stobie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I ordered Sussex Drive because Linda Svendsen and Terry Fallis were interviewed together on CBC radio. I have bought and thoroughly enjoyed all three of Terry Fallis' books. I expected Sussex Drive to be equally entertaining. For me the story line is important and the humour icing on the cake. Sussex Drive feels like a collection of one liners. I've tried three different times to read the book, and each time lost interest within about fifteen minutes.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By annemator - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Maybe I just don't know enough about Canadian politics. Or maybe I just don't get whether this book is supposed to be funny or what. Didn't find one phrase that made me laugh. Mostly it just seemed incredibly boring. The characters are one dimensional so there's not much to hang on to that makes you care what happens to them.

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