Jennifer Stevenson’s Fools Paradise gives us Daisy and Bobbyjay, the youngest sprigs from modern Capulet and Montague trees, in a blue-collar Jacobean comedy of feuds, follies, and getting your fingernails dirty. I can also promise you an expensive car full of fish! Set in today’s Chicago world of union families, ethnic mixes and purely finding yourself, Fools Paradise shows us that there are a lot of smarts, manners and good humor hiding under these blue-collar folks. It’s not so easy to break free of your assigned place in the family, whether you’re grandpa’s little girl — and chief cook and housemaid, or the youngest (and by far the most clever and well-educated) in a long line of Morton males.
Thanks to a huge prank that backfires big time, Daisy and Bobbyjay, who have known each other since they were children, end up engaged — or Bobbyjay may just end up dead. Daisy has never really thought of Bobbyjay as anything other than a childhood friend who now gets cross-eyed at how his friend has matured, where Bobbyjay has always thought she was a darling, but would never have taken his life in his hands by trying to date the granddaughter of his uncle’s mortal enemy.
Turns out they don’t know jack about each other — and the discoveries are both hilarious and thoughtful. Each step digs them in deeper, as they scheme about how to break off their engagement, even as they both privately wonder if they really want to call things off. But family tensions are leading to some ugly scenes and genuine danger. Can true love triumph? Or will Bobbyjay sink from the anchor of his father and brothers? Will Daisy break free of her assigned place in her family?
One thing I really enjoyed about this book is there are no “evil” characters. There are stupid, and insensitive, and old-fashioned characters. There are characters who learned in a different school, and haven’t kept up with the times. There are characters who have no idea where a joke or a vendetta ends and a crime begins. But I could even feel some small sympathy for the bad guys by the end, even as I wanted them to fail. If you had told me up front that I could feel sympathy for any of those guys? Not a chance.
This is a fun, fast read — I look forward to the next one! Recommended!
Fools Paradise is an e-book release from Book View Cafe. This is my opinion about this book, and does not represent the views of anyone else at BVC.