They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but Lynda Svendsen’s rollicking novel Sussex Drive sounds suspiciously like recent Canadian history. Set in the recent past, a God-fearing, rock-opera-composing-and-singing Prime Minister, Greg Leggatt, squares off against the forces of democracy and Lise Lavoie, a Governor General with principles. The real stars of the center-stage are Becky Leggatt, the PM’s wife, and Lavoie (a cross between Adrienne Clarkson and Michaelle Jean), who balance astute political machinations with emotional depth and soccer-mom-style family commitments.
The Governor General (GG to all in the know) is forced to prorogue parliament twice in the course of the novel, and political fallout in the form of acting-out teenagers, teen pregnancy, and assassinated “unwanted complications” litter the breakneck plot. Reading the non-stop witty and razor-sharp narrative was like watching a double episode of the West Wing, but with a Terry Fallis twist. Full of astute pop political and “Hello” style observations, the book will have you nodding at wry observations, such as Becky’s remarks about how tall Michelle Obama is and how much, as she stands there wearing a crayon-coloured outfit from Target, she looks like a giant version of the teacher from The Magic School Bus. And then you’ll find yourself wondering, “How do I know this stuff?”
For fans of fast reads and political high-stepping plots, this book is a speedy weekend page-turner—don’t forget to breathe!