Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube, ECW Press

Misconduct of the Heart

Strube, Cordelia

  • Toronto Book Award Winner Cordelia Strube is back with another caustic, subversive, and darkly humorous book

    Stevie, a recovering alcoholic and kitchen manager of Chappy’s, a small chain restaurant, is frantically trying to prevent the people around her from going supernova: her PTSD-suffering veteran son, her uproariously demented parents, the polyglot eccentrics who work in her kitchen, the blind geriatric dog she inherits, and a damaged five-year-old who landed on her doorstep and might just be her granddaughter.

    In the tight grip of new corporate owners, Stevie battles corporate’s “restructuring” to save her kitchen, while trying to learn to forgive herself and maybe allow some love back into her life. Stevie’s biting, hilarious take on her own and others’ foibles will make you cheer and will have you loving Misconduct of the Heart (in the immortal words of Stevie’s best line cook) “like never tomorrow.”


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  • Cordelia Strube is the author of ten critically acclaimed novels. She has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium Book Award, and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

  • Published: April 2020

    ISBN: 9781770414945

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 408


“Chappy’s is a richly drawn, darkly comic world filled with the clashing cultures of a mostly immigrant staff, an incompetent boss whose ego Stevie adroitly manipulates, and frequent equipment problems … [Stevie is] a prickly, self-aware narrator … Even as intimacy and affection slip into Stevie’s life, her gritty narration holds sentimentality at bay. Forget Canadian ‘niceness’; Strube’s angry, hard-boiled characters confront the same ugly problems found below the 48th parallel.” — Kirkus Reviews

“An astringent and delightful but also harrowing and grim comedy built atop a solid block of despair … The novel’s pleasures — such as they are — come from the telling. As introspective Stevie lurches from one disaster to another (all the while racking up debt on her cards) and adds to her tally of mistakes, she’s a marvel of wittily cantankerous observations of a benighted world.” — Toronto Star

“Despite my pandemic-related personal reading failures, I was very glad and very grateful, in those difficult moments, to have a story of people surviving the worst by laughing their way through it by my side … The book is darkly funny, even heartwarming. It is real, and raw, and jarring, and frenetic, and upsetting — but it is also about people being deeply loyal, and showing up for each other … Making people laugh during times like this is a gift, and it is one that Strube’s admirable Stevie has mastered.” — Open Book

“In her 11th novel, Canadian author Cordelia Strube lays bare much of the tragedy and ugliness of life in brutal images conveyed with brutal words in brutal detail. That she also succeeds in creating a story filled with poignancy and populated with characters who are deeply moving even as they are profoundly damaged, while at the same time putting together phrases and sentences that can prompt laughing aloud, is a feat that borders on the miraculous . . . In Misconduct of the Heart, Cordelia Strube achieves a transcendence in the person of her protagonist that speaks to hope in the worst of times, and this is forever worthwhile.” — New York Journal of Books blog

“I have a special place high up on a shelf where I keep the novels of Cordelia Strube . . . A memorable novelist, Strube writes books that appeal to my funny bone.” — Owen Sound Sun Times

“The reader is rooting for every single one of these lovable losers to finally win.” — Pickle Me This blog

“Cordelia Strube’s 11th novel hurtles out of the gate and never lets up … All the grief in this novel would be far too much to bear except that Strube has an absolute gift for humour. Stevie is smart, funny, and sensitive … a remarkably engaging character.” — Quill & Quire starred review

“Cordelia Strube is known for exploring dark subject matter with a keen sense of comedy. With Misconduct of the Heart, she again balances the light with the dark as she follows characters with diminished capacities to live well — or even to live without chronic fear. With moments of blistering humour, Strube delineates the enduring effects of violence, in the many forms it can take …While the main storyline tracks Stevie and Pierce, subplots amplify the larger themes in ways that make the novel an almost irresistible read … Strube brings her many characters and their stories to flawed and poignant life. Each is memorable.” — Literary Review of Canada

“This is not a feel-good comedy at all, but oh it’s so richly funny. Funny in the way the world is, absurd, preposterous, sad and hilarious . . . And even feel-good, because there is hope and there is triumph, and the reader is rooting for every single one of these lovable losers to finally win . . . There is nobody else who writes like Cordelia Strube, and this is one of my favourite books of the year.” — Pickle Me This blog

“The story offers a compelling portrait of trauma survivors. Stevie, for one, is a fascinating protagonist . . . Stevie's language reflects the flippancy of someone whom life has treated as an afterthought — her parents, her supervisors, her lovers — yet her observations are profound . . .  [T]he novel is lifelike for so many survivors of trauma and their families.” — PopMatters

“Strube’s dark, character-driven novel is for fans of Vonnegut and Heller and for those of us that appreciate authors who aren’t afraid to send their characters to work every once in a while. If you root for the underdog and despise corporate agendas, you’ll definitely want to pick up Misconduct of the Heart.” — Paperback Paris