While The Best Laid Plans made me laugh out loud (literally), Practical Jean left me feeling depressed instead. The blurb on the back of the book describes it as "tragicomic fiction", but in my opinion, the emphasis was on the tragedy rather than the comedy. Some of the adjectives used in the review quotes include black comedy, social satire, comic portraiture, piquant, hilarious, wickedly funny, diabolical deadpan, and mischievous. While I consider myself to have a very keen and sharp sense of humour, the humour in this book was lost on me.
The Jean in the title cares for her mother over the last few months of her life as she dies of cancer; and then decides to spare her best friends the pain and torment of a lingering death by killing them now. While she is presented as being very logical and practical; to me the tragedy is that here is a woman very obviously suffering from depression to the extreme who neither seeks out, nor is offered any sort of support or help. I'm afraid that the humour of a woman with depression systematically murdering her friends was lost on me. There isn't even a comic reversal at any point that would have added to the humour.
I can almost compare it to Swift's A Modest Proposal, but without the social commentary. In that case, it was the reversal of the expected that made it funny. Practical Jean is supposed to be a satire, but to my eyes it isn't satirizing anything.
If anyone else has read this book, please help me out! What did I miss? Why didn't I find it funny?