Bad Ideas: A Novel

Marston, Missy

  • 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.

    Read an excerpt here.


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  • 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.

  • Published: April 2019

    ISBN: 9781770414617

    Dimensions: 5 x 7.75 in.

    Pages: 264

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“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

“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

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

Bad Ideas is all heart, packed with humour, vivid and memorable writing, and unforgettable characters.” — Open Book

“Missy Marston’s novel Bad Ideas oozes the atmosphere evocative of life in a small rust belt town in the 1970s . . . Many novels claim to illuminate working class lives but this one feels loving and authentic . . . Bad Ideas is fun and playful, always wanting to entertain, to make us feel and see through the eyes of these different people.” — Prism International

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

“Each character is just getting on with life despite what it throws at them. Their stories are real and honest and told with both humour and pathos . . . I really appreciated the not knowing, the unexpected and the unpredictability of Marston’s tale.” — A Bookworm’s World blog

“Missy Marston had us at, well, aliens and Margaret Atwood (but not that one, the other one) in her debut novel The Love Monster. Her follow-up is every bit as delightful.” — 49th Shelf

“Surly, funny, and lovely . . . With a rich cast of characters all struggling to tell the difference between the safe thing and the right thing to do, Bad Ideas is bursting with the feats of emotional derring-do. And, as with any stunt, you become truly invested when there's a possibility that things won't go as planned.” — The Bookshelf (Guelph, ON)