"The Queen of Cups" by Collette Yvonne
Panic House Press
$21.95 Cdn/$19.95 US
A Review (c)
Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2006
Welcome to the manic world of Pauline Parril, a 36 year old, recently downsized, twice-married mother of 3, pet owner and former military survival expert. Pauline enrolls in college to pursue her interest in creative writing, and is rapidly developing a crush on her Teaching Assistant. Like most women in their dirty thirties, Pauline has found herself adrift in the sea of laundry, overwhelming family responsibilities, hefty payments, aging vehicles, the steaming byproducts of pet ownership, a possibly philandering husband, the onset of greying hair, self-awareness, cellulite, creeping Venusian voluptuousness and smoking cessation issues. Our heroine is ripe for exploration of her spirituality and develops, with the help of the internet and her best friend, Bibienne of the well stocked liquor cabinet, a beginners interest in New Age ideas ranging from on-line Tarot readings to books on various New Age subjects, including mindfulness, aromatherapy and Feng Shui.
The author makes wonderful use of co-incidents, dust bunnies, flannel pajamas, car trouble and an on-line Tarot reading to introduce us to Pauline's crush, Michael Doorite, and to the possibility that her husband, Donald, might be having an affair with his female boss. We meet Pauline's daughter, Serenity, from her first marriage to a military man, and her two children with her current husband, Jack and Olympia. Serenity has a girlfriend, formerly named Denise, now called Dennis, who arrives with a large dog named George Bush. This dog has a penchant for eating any type of furniture and the not-so-very-nice neighbours' pool cover. He also has a healthy libido and escape artist tendencies. The family has been entrusted with the care of Pauline's widowed mother's dog, Montrose, while Mom is away living La Vida Loca. Montrose has an irrational hatred of both Donald and dog kennels. The household is completed by two cats, Bitesalot and Scratches, who do their best to live up to their names while making deposits in the garden, licking the butter and coughing up on the living room rug.
Mayhem and madness ensue on a hourly basis as we follow Pauline through teachers strikes, playdates, a friend's wedding, car trouble, Canadian winters, wifely revenges for her husband's possible indiscretion, Parental Aggravation Days, PMS, computer problems, the horror that is Christmas, writers block and her hilariously disastrous attempts to have a successful rendez-vous with the equally enamoured Michael. Email, text messages, clandestine phone calls, meeting in the recesses of the college library and in a dingy coffee shop, fuel their unconsummated passion. The obstacles to any relationship create the obsession and this relationship has many obstacles - it will take full military and tactical maneuvers for a successful liaison.
I laughed, I giggled, I chortled, I chuckled, I identified and I empathized. This book is a delightful, original, comic romp through a year in the life of a wild, whacked and wonderful young woman trying to navigate life. No maudlin sentimentality or moralizing here, this book is an unapologetic, irreverent, in-your-face, witty, honest and uproarious portrayal of an intelligent young woman, with a very full plate, who is doing the best she can in the circumstances she is in and trying to be the best person she can be in those circumstances. If you are disenchanted with Christmas, it would be worth buying the book just to read Pauline's Christmas Mantra a la Dr. Seuss. Pauline's military background has allowed the author to lace the book with several new acronyms which we could all find creeping into our vocabulary.
The stunning cover artwork was commissioned from artist Cindy Revell and is a beautiful depiction of the Queen of Cups, worthy of any Tarot deck. "The Queen of Cups" would make an excellent television situation comedy and is a fast paced, laugh-a-minute read. I don't recommend eating or drinking anything while reading this book - voice of experience, I nearly choked on my tea. When the mind is filled with Spirit, Spirit will fill your cup to overflowing, and this book is overflowing with laughter and good spirit.
The author, Collette Yvonne, is a graduate of York University's Creative Writing Program. This is her first full length novel and took 10 years to complete. Her short story, "Scarlet Runners" has been made into a short film called "Snapshots for Henry" which is currently being featured at film festivals around the world. You can purchase a copy of "The Queen of Cups" by visiting The Panic House Press website, just sign the guestbook and express your interest in owning a copy, you can mention my name. I assure you that you won't regret your purchase.
More Ordering Information
Via mail order which is $20 plus $5 shipping. You can send a check to:
Panic House Inc
328 Beacroft Rd
Little Britain ON
Or your local independent bookstore should be able to order the book now - if they use BookManager software (most independents do). Even if they don't, BookManager is accessible to any bookstore with internet via the Bookmanager.com website. She can have a book shipped out to a store within a day of ordering and the shipping is two days.