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Fiction Contemporary Women

Bad Ideas

A Novel

by (author) Missy Marston

ECW Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2019
Contemporary Women, Family Life, Small Town & Rural, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2019
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2019
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Jul 2019
    List Price

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Wildly funny and wonderfully moving, Bad Ideas is about just that — a string of bad ideas — and the absurdity of love

Trudy works nights in a linen factory, avoiding romance and sharing the care of her four-year-old niece with Trudy’s mother, Claire. Claire still pines for Trudy’s father, a St. Lawrence Seaway construction worker who left her twenty years ago. Claire believes in true love. Trudy does not. She’s keeping herself to herself. But when Jules Tremblay, aspiring daredevil, walks into the Jubilee restaurant, Trudy’s a goner.

Loosely inspired by Ken “the Crazy Canuck” Carter’s attempt to jump the St. Lawrence River in a rocket car, and set in a 1970s hollowed-out town in eastern Ontario, Bad Ideas paints an indelible portrait of people on the forgotten fringes of life. Witty and wise, this is a novel that will stay with you a long time.


About the author

Missy Marston’s first novel, The Love Monster, was the winner of the 2013 Ottawa Book Award, a finalist for the CBC Bookie Awards and the Scotiabank Giller Prize Readers’ Choice. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Missy Marston's profile page

Editorial Reviews


“This novel of working class women and the men they let into their lives is like a small town: both tough and soft. These strong, funny, and intense characters have unique and deep-seated ideas about love and family, have dreams that are big enough. Marston writes with love and verve. In Bad Ideas people take life as it comes, and think those bad ideas are probably going to play out just fine.” — Dina Del Bucchia, author of Don't Tell Me What to Do

“I’d follow Missy Marston’s writing anywhere, even off an ill-conceived launch ramp across the St. Lawrence River in a rocket-car. In Bad Ideas, she tells a story with hard edges, humour, and so much tenderness, affirming her place as one of Canada's funniest and original writers.” — Kerry Clare, author of Mitzi Bytes

“An astonishing, funny, and beautiful book. It’s full of terrible, lovable, broken people doing their best to find happiness wherever they can — in fast cars, booze, or in the arms of the right-but-wrong person. It's about the parts of ourselves that remain underwater in the murk and the bits we choose to showcase. It’s about what it means to love the wrong people — the broke stunt driver, the married man, the absent mother. Always illuminating and never sentimental, Bad Ideas is an honest look at what it means to dream big in a small town. Oh, and there’s a surprise ending that’s absolutely glorious.” — New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McCartney

“An unusual story of both familial and romantic love, the strange dreams humans have, and the cost and benefits of loyalty.” — Kirkus Reviews

Bad Ideas is a great read, a well-balanced mix of pathos and humour . . . The way Ms. Marston brings all the threads of each character’s past into the present is a marvel of writing that makes Bad Ideas well worth reading. Put it on your Summer Reading List.” — Miramichi Reader


User Reviews

Bad Ideas

4.5 Stars. Characters and a story that will stay with me.

Small-town Canada in the seventies, twenty-two year old Trudy works the night-shift in a factory sewing pillowcases while by day she, along with her mom, raises Trudy’s five year old niece, Mercy. Though devoted to her niece, life is mostly uneventful drudgery for Trudy, until the arrival of a low-rent Evil Knievel named Jules.

I could have happily stayed in the heads of Mercy (precocious, heartbreaking, adorable) and Trudy (my kind of world weary) throughout the course of the book, but I really liked the decision to spend time with each character, to be given such an intimate understanding of them, especially those whose actions were so much different from how my own would be in their shoes. For a short book, it felt like it had a tremendous amount of depth and I feel like that mostly stems from the care put into crafting the characters, how they’re all dealing to some degree with restlessness, loneliness, and regret, yet the way each handles those emotions is so fascinatingly distinct and personal to who they are.

Another thing I really enjoyed here is the tone, it hit this entertaining sweet spot between quirkiness and realism, and humor and despair. Maybe that balancing act won’t work for every reader, but to me, it felt a lot like life.

I received this ARC through the ECW Insiders program.

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