Please Stand By by Carolyn Bennett

Carolyn Bennett’s debut novel Please Stand By is a fast-paced story about a woman trying to save the public television station in Edmonton where she freelances at. When a corporate man from Toronto is recruited to make changes to the Alberta Broadcasting System (ABS) and threatens the protagonist Suzanne Foley’s livelihood and those of her colleagues, Bennett skillfully reveals the anguish at the prospect of losing a job with convincing and, at times, hilarious dialogue. “Suzanne felt a rising paranoia. “Look, they can’t sack us. They’d be insane to sack us.” / “All I know is I have three cats.” / “Yeah?” / “I have cats to support,” Leslie said…” (4).

Suzanne lives alone. She has her neighbour Wilma with whom she doesn’t have a strong relationship, but she seeks Wilma’s company and shares her work woes. “Work sucks. We’re in limbo.” / Wilma scoffed, “Yeah, yeah, so what else is new? You work and then you die…” (10/11). They have drinks to drown their sorrows.

“Heartache and salvation are major themes in this well-written and credible novel.”

Sonia Saikely

Heartache and salvation are major themes in this well-written and credible novel. Suzanne wants to save ABS but also needs to save herself. With brave writing, Bennett dives into the world of addiction.

Suzanne isn’t always a likeable character. Even though she seeks out Wilma when she needs company, Suzanne doesn’t always reciprocate Wilma’s need for support, especially when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. There is a heartbreaking scene that Bennett brings alive with brilliant dialogue. “I have cancer,” Wilma said…/ “That’s not too good. Try not to get down about it.” / Wilma raised her head. “Try not to get down about it? Are you human?” / Suzanne cleared her throat. “What I mean is…”” (59). In this scene, Bennett shows people aren’t perfect nor always compassionate. Bennett captures what it means to be human, flaws and all, effortlessly in her portrayal of Suzanne who tries to forget her problems with alcohol, drugs and sex with a young man.

Throughout the novel, Bennett tackles the scars of being human and the consequences of disappointing others with wisdom and sensitivity. She also touches upon a childhood trauma which, unfortunately, isn’t fully developed like the believable characters Bennett has created in this absorbing novel.

Please Stand By is a vivid reminder that second chances are everywhere. We just have to open our eyes and this is what Bennett has done marvellously for her readers.

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About the author: A professional writer and comedian, Carolyn Bennett has worked extensively in television, newsprint, theatre, and digital media for many years. She lives and works in Toronto, and Please Stand By is her first novel.

  • Paperback : 162 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1988098858
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1988098852
  • Publisher : Now Or Never Publishing (Oct. 15 2019)

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Sonia Saikaley was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada. Her first book, The Lebanese Dishwasher, co-won the 2012 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest. She has two poetry collections Turkish Delight, Montreal Winter and A Samurai’s Pink House. Her novel The Allspice Bath was the 2020 IPPY Gold Medal winner and the 2020 International Book Awards winner for Multicultural Fiction and a finalist in the 2020 Ottawa Book Awards. She is currently working on a novel called Jasmine Season on Hamra Street, which was awarded an Ontario Arts Council grant. She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa and the Humber School for Writers. Her first children’s picture book is forthcoming with Renaissance Press.

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