Saturday, 19 November 2011
Review: Domestic Violets
Author: Matthew Norman
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: August 9th 2011
Genre: Fiction, Humour
Tom Violet never imagined that at 35 he’d be working at a pointless job he hates. He always believed that he’d be a successful novelist by then. Tom has just finished his first novel, which took him five years to write. His father, Curtis Violet, is one of the most talented living writers in America, and how will he ever live up to that? His dad has just won the Pulitzer Prize and left his newest wife, a supermodel who is younger than Tom. When his mother leaves Tom’s dependable stepfather, it seems like everyone is having marital problems. Tom’s sex life with his wife is non-existent at present, and he feels too much pressure over conceiving their second child. His job may be horrible, but so many people are being let off that he might not have one for much longer. Tom hates his job, but at least he gets to see Katie, his beautiful twenty-three year old assistant. As life throws a few obstacles Tom’s way, he will have to decide what kind of man he wants to be.
It wasn’t until I was midway through this book that I realized I rarely read contemporary novels with male adult protagonists. There’s no particular reason for this: I suppose you could argue that since a lot of my recommendations are from girls, I’m more likely to read books about girls. I also seldom read humour, especially when it’s aimed at adults. Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoyed this book was because it was different from what I usually read. And, if I’m being honest, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Domestic Violets. It was a thoroughly entertaining book. I loved Tom’s sense of humour and his cynical wit. As the novel begins, Tom’s stressed because he’s suffering from erectile dysfunction. His famous father has just come to live with him after he left his wife, and eventually Tom’s stepfather joins them as well. Tom’s problems get worst soon enough, between marital and job problems. I’m glad that I didn’t read the jacket description before reading this book, because I thought it was a bit melodramatic and overplayed some of Tom’s problems. At the beginning, I didn’t think I was going to like Domestic Violets. From the first scene, I thought that this was going to be a book just for guys. It reminded me of Jonathan Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You, which I didn’t enjoy all that much. Although there were similarities between the two books, Domestic Violets was the better of the two. From the description, you might think that his book is just about marriage or the recession. To me, it was about becoming the person you want to be. Matthew Norman is a great writer and I especially liked his insights on writing and being a writer. All the characters were very real and hopelessly flawed. They managed to turn family dysfunction into an entertaining story. Although there some funny parts, I thought Gregory and Tom’s feud was a bit too much like Dwight and Jim from The Office. However, I did enjoy Tom’s memos he imagined people in his life sending to HR. The plot was simple but engaging. There were some things that were predictable, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying Domestic Violets as a whole. One thing that bothered me was that Tom got over his problems with Anna too easily, and that scene was a bit awkward to me. It felt like they got past what happened a little too quickly, without spoiling anything. Flaws aside, I’d recommend this book to fans of Jonathan Tropper and maybe even Nick Hornby. Domestic Violets is a promising debut novel and I had fun reading it.
I received this e-galley from HarperCollins.