Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book Review: "Domestic Violets" by Matthew Norman

I love it when books surprise me. Quite often while reading Domestic Violets, Matthew Norman's terrific debut novel, I expected the plot to go in a certain direction and I was disappointed that the book would head in that direction, but Norman's storytelling ability surprised me nearly every time. This is one of those books that made me sad when I finished it, because in the few short days it took me to read the book, I became very invested in the characters and their lives.

Thirty-five-year-old Tom Violet is in the midst of a midlife crisis. He and his wife are having relationship issues stemming from their desire to have a second child, he hates his job except for the opportunity to flirt with his younger employee (and antagonize a colleague), and his famous novelist father, Curtis, just won the Pulitzer Prize, and is staying with Tom's family as he abandons yet another wife. Oh, and Tom has written a novel of his own, but no one will read it, mostly because they expect it will be horrible. And this is the high point of Tom's current situation.

I really enjoyed this book because while the dialogue is certainly sharper and funnier than people talk in real life (at least the people I know), I felt as if the characters were very real, experiencing realistic problems and responding in genuine ways. While I found the ending a little too pat given the rest of the book, at least it resolved (somewhat) what happened to all of the characters I had grown attached to. I expected this book to be reasonably good based on the reviews I read, but it far exceeded my expectations. It is funny, compelling, emotionally astute, and really enjoyable. (Yeah, I kinda liked it.) Read it!

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