Party Favours

:"For other uses, see party favor.""Party Favours" is a 1997 Canadian novel credited to the pseudonym "Jean Doe", later revealed to be non-fiction writer and political strategist Warren Kinsella. A roman à clef of the early years of the Jean Chrétien government, it was billed as a Canadian answer to "Primary Colors", the popular and anonymously-published 1996 roman à clef of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.

Plot summary

The novel is told from the point of view of a young Canadian Press reporter, Chris O'Reilly, who covers the government of the Franco-Albertan Liberal prime minister Bobby Laurier. Jean Rioux, Laurier's opponent for the leadership of the Liberal Party, is finance minister, and O'Reilly discovers evidence that information about the upcoming federal budget has been leaked to benefit Rioux's supporters, centered around the shadowy lobbying firm the Prince Group. As O'Reilly moves closer to the full story, he is shadowed, illegally, by investigators from Rioux's camp. A mysterious death, and O'Reilly's romantic entanglement with an attractive young functionary in the Laurier government, also play parts in the plot.

In the novel's climax, Laurier, vacationing in Florida, is reported to have had a heart attack and to rest unconscious or at least incommunicado in an American military hospital, precipitating a constitutional crisis. In fact, he had only suffered an angina, and was recovering well, but Rioux and his supporters attempted to move into the apparent leadership vacuum with unassuming haste, spurred in part by subterfuge from Laurier supporters who exaggerated the extent of his incapacity.

In the end, both the budget leaks and the illegal surveillance of O'Reilly are brought to light, and Laurier returns to Canada, his authority restored. O'Reilly emerges more cynical both about the antagonists of the story, and the techniques the good guys sometimes adopt to counter them.

Critical response

The book won considerable attention, but widely negative reviews; "a critical reception," wrote Gregory Boyd Bell in "eye weekly", "that could best be likened to tossing a pot roast into a trunk full of badgers." The book, Bell continued, was "written with all the style and narrative competence of a 12-year-old typing with a mallet." [http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_09.18.97/news_views/media18.html] Kinsella now calls the novel his "first and, hopefully, last." [http://www.warrenkinsella.com/words_books_pf.htm]

Further reading

*Busby, Brian, "Character Parts: Who's Really Who in CanLit" (2003) - ISBN 0-676-97579-8


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