If there's ever anything I like in life, it's humor. Whether it's dry, moist, or any varying degree in between. Perhaps that's why I found Domestic Violets to be so refreshingly plainspoken.
This book is a satire. From the very first page, it was obvious. It is a satire about everything. Life. Relationships. The boring, daily job. It also includes snippets of almost current events. If you enjoy satires as much as I do, then this book is a definite must.
As much as I like this book, it was a little slow in the beginning. I feel that a good portion of the book was dedicated to establishing the setting. When I say good, it isn't in a good way either (bad writing there, but oh well, who reads these anyways?). But when the book picks up steam, it doesn't let up until you read to the back cover.
[Insert witty, closing line here]
*Thanks Goodreads First Reads Giveaway for a copy of this book, it will have an honorary place on my bookshelf*
Tom Violet has problems. He has erectile disfunction, a mind-numbing job he hates, an arch-nemesis who'd love nothing better than to have Tom fired, a wife who he thinks is having an affair, a novel in his desk drawer that nobody apparently wants to read, a crush on his beautiful and too-young coworker, a father who's just won the Pulitzer and is getting yet another divorce, and a dog with acute anxiety. Anybody would go off the deep end, which Tom does, with true Violet flare.
When I started reading this book I immediately thought that the beginning did not bode well - the protagonist, Tom Violet, kept going on and on about his erectile disfunction in the most descriptive fashion and I just could not imagine reading a whole book of that. Tom did prove to be a funny guy with an off-beat sense of humor and a hilarious comeback for whatever life throws at him and ED soon stepped off the center stage so I kept reading. In no time at all Norman charmed me with all the characters in Tom's life - his beautiful and intelligent wife, his budding artist daughter, his excitable dog, his brilliant philandering father, his too-good-looking subordinate, his agent and even his mental mother-in-law. They are all so alive and so far from being cliché that it's impossible to remain indifferent especially since they all do something unexpected or funny on a regular basis and the story never gets boring.
While there is a lot of humor in this book it's not a literary romp. Things are never that simple in the Violet family and while their relationship with the truth has always been touch-and-go, as Tom himself admits, they make it work because they love each other. The value of family is up-front and center here and all the funny parts aside it's a thoughtful and thought-provoking book that is mainly about Tom's relationship with his father and it had me reeling on a number of occasions from Tom's actions and their consequences.
The only thing that was a bit off for me is the ending. It seemed long with a number of instances when the story could have ended right then and there and wouldn't have been any less satisfying. There was even that "the end" type finality to the paragraphs and yet Norman kept going, wrapping everything up neatly and giving us a promise of a happy future for the Violets despite all the difficulties. Then again, there's nothing wrong with that, is there?
This is a very good debut novel, well-written, funny but not slapstick, profane but not vulgar, sad but not depressing, and best of all when I turned the last page I was smiling. A word of caution: it is most definitely not appropriate for younger audiences.
ARC of this book received from the publisher, Harper Perennial via NetGalley. The book is now available in stores.