Pauline’s Playing Around

When an unexpected misfortune occurs, you have two basic options: readjust the course you’re on or wallow in the misery that is the unfairness of life. In Collette Yvonne’s The Perils of Pauline, Pauline is faced with some difficult decisions that stem from some recent professional misfortune.

Pauline Parril, a military veteran, loses her job to her assistant during a company downsizing, which forces her to reevaluate her life and its direction. This mother of three in the midst of a stressed marriage, decides to go back to school full-time to finish up her degree courtesy of the G.I. Bill as she has unexpected time off. It’s through school that Pauline becomes entangled with Professor Michael Fortune, her poetry instructor, after she finds an ominous business card under her bed that leads her to believe that her husband, Donald, is cheating on her. Throughout these numerous changes, Pauline comes to learn more about herself and what is important in her life.

While the story as a whole is fairly good with plenty of relatively realistic challenges of motherhood and marriage, one thing that really irritated me was the unfortunate naming of two of the characters. Yes, it might be considered a clever move to make it easier for readers to identify the character’s basic personalities and motivations based on their names. But really, come on; spoon-feeding of this caliber is rather condescending. Having the affair love interest’s last name be Fortune? And Pauline’s last name be Parril, which sounds oddly close to “peril.” It’s a bit heavy-handed and I’m not a fan of that kind of writing–it feels a bit hacky. Naming can certainly be a tough business, but I feel that there are plenty of other, less obvious options that are available to choose from. Another thing that I found a bit strange throughout the text were odd turns of phrase that didn’t quite seem to be realistic and I even thought that they might be typos by how odd they read. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing that I’m missing, although I grew up near Canada and with ready access to the CBC so I thought myself to be rather well acclimated to different idioms and word choices.

Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

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