The Best Way You Know How.


274 pages
ISBN 978-0-14-305203-6
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Lori A. Dunn

Lori A. Dunn is a ESL teacher, instructional designer, and freelance
writer in New Westminster, B.C.


Christine Poutney’s novel The Best Way You Know How is the story of Hannah, a young Canadian woman living in London, who meets Daniel, a young British man, and marries him on impulse. The remainder of the story recounts how the two come to learn more about each other, and themselves, as their married life unfolds. From the moment that the two meet in a museum to the inevitable end to the story, Hannah yearns to be a person who embraces commitment, but in reality she is a woman who is unable to let go of the magic of potential, the unknown that is the wonder of being single.


Poutney’s style choices are awkward, but seem to suit the story. The lack of quotation marks throughout, and the confusion that arises, reinforces the similarities between Hannah’s internal dialogue and her interactions with others. The unreal, art house dialogue itself underlines the self-centredness of the main character, and her unsuitability to a relationship of any kind.


Despite the incessant introspection and pretentious conversations, this novel is full of lofty aims that manage to draw the reader in and make us curious to see how it all ends. Unfortunately, the often overworked similes, thick foreshadowing, and constant present tense detract from whatever truths Poutney is trying to convey about self-absorption in relationships. In the reading, The Best Way You Know How is quite interesting, but in the end, it is an experimental confection that is not quite memorable


Poutney, Christine., “The Best Way You Know How.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,