THE PORTABLE VEBLEN by Elizabeth McKenzie
A riotously funny and deeply insightful adventure through capitalism, the medical industry, family, love, war and wedding-planning - from an electrically entertaining new voice Meet Veblen: a passionate defender of the anti-consumerist views of her name-sake, the iconoclastic economist Thorstein Veblen. She's an experienced cheerer-upper (mainly of her narcissistic, hypochondriac, controlling mother), an amateur translator of Norwegian, and a firm believer in the distinct possibility that the plucky grey squirrel following her around can understand more than it lets on. Meet her fiance, Paul: the son of good hippies who were bad parents, a no-nonsense, high-flying neuroscientist with no time for squirrels. His recent work on a device to minimize battlefield trauma has led him dangerously close to the seductive Cloris Hutmacher, heiress to a pharmaceuticals empire, who is promising him fame and fortune through a shady-sounding deal with the Department of Defence. What could possibly go wrong?
I have to say that I was drawn into reading this book through curiosity over talking to squirrels! But it works in this book and was such a weirdly wonderful aspect of the story that I think it lifts the whole premise! Without the squirrels it really is a story where not a lot actually happens! But it adds a fascinating insight into the mind of Veblen as she tries to debate with herself if she's ready for marriage to Paul, as at times it does seem possible that she loves the squirrels around their home and garden more than she loves him!
She is convinced that they can understand her when she 'chats' to them, and that they are trying to communicate with her! This part of her personality was really sweet and when you meet her dysfunctional family then you can begin to understand maybe why she often prefers animals to humans!
Her fiancee, Paul who is a neuroscientist, detests squirrels and can't understand Veblen and her 'quirks'! He isn't immune though to the complexities of a dysfunctional family and you can understand why these two may have been drawn to each other in the first place.
The story is full of quirky characters and is a really interesting look at humans in their different forms and the thoughts they have when a wedding is on the horizons and they are wondering if they've made the right decision.
As i said before, there is no real big plot but there is lots of subtle humour this was enough for me to sustain my interest throughout the story and I'd highly recommend this book if you are a fan of reading something a little different than the norm!
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?