Saturday, November 26, 2011

Domestic Violets, reviewed

I loved this novel for many reasons. Written in first person, the writing is very engaging--and very funny. The lead character and narrator is Tom Violet. He brings you into all the different parts of his world with honesty and humor: trouble in the bedroom with the wife; possibility of more layoffs at work and a horrible co-worker; living with the legend that is his father, renowned novelist Curtis Violet. Author Matthew Norman does a great job of weaving all the parts together, seamlessly, as Tom moves from one life problem to the next. I hadn't realized there would be so much time devoted to the work side of Tom's life, but Norman nails the office dynamics as well as some of the recent books that come to mind (Slab Rat; And Then We Came to the End; Personal Days). The supporting cast, especially the ones closest to Tom in his life--his father, his wife, and his young co-worker Katie, whom he has a crush on--are strong characters and really pop off the page. This is because the writing is so strong, the dialogue sharp, and the characters believable. Tom's relationship with his father is explored well, and shows how it affects the way Tom lives (or doesn't live) his own life. Not to mention the novel that Tom wrote that he's afraid to show anyone because of the inevitable comparison to his father's writing. The problems Tom has with his wife also ring true, their arguments and disagreements realistic and not just skewed to the narrator's perspective. Domestic Violets is an impressive debut novel from a skilled author. Can't wait for the next one!