Domestic Violets has been on my TBR list (compliments of netgalley.com) so I decided to read it this Hurricane Irene weekend. To be honest, I had read a few pages earlier but was put off by the beginning, which features an episode of erectile dysfunction. Call me a fuddy-duddy, but I tend to think erectile dysfunction belongs neither in a book I want to read, nor as ads placed in televised golf matches! Despite a slow start, I soon found myself chuckling and caught up in Tom's various dilemmas.
Tom Violets thought his life would be perfect by the age of 35, full of fame, fortune and success. Instead, he is trapped in a soul-destroying copy writing job for a company that doesn't do anything that can be quantified, which Tom refers to as the "Death Star". He has an inappropriate crush on his cute young assistant, and his marriage is on shakier ground than even he imagines. Even the family dog has an anxiety disorder. Tom has a finished novel sitting in a desk drawer, but since his father is a "real" celebrated novelist this,too, is problematic. Then his father wins a Pulitzer, another in a long line of literary prizes, it sets off a whole chain of events that Tom stumbles, and often trips, through.
Other reviewers have called Domestic Violets hilarious. I don't go that far, but I found it witty, clever and charming- and very poignant in its look at unrealized expectations and dysfunctional family dynamics. My major laughs came from Tom's snarky comments about the emptiness of American Corporate culture and the publishing industry, which gives a book contract to Snooki of Jersey Shore, and lets real writers languish. No "hook" no book!
Tom Violet is a great character, bright, funny and subversive. His moral compass may be a mite skewed, but his heart is pure. The cast is vivid and fully realized, from famous father Curtis Violet (a Norman Mailer-esque figure but with loads more charm), to Tom's equally conflicted wife, to Curtis' latest whack-job ex-wife, to Katie, Tom's assistant.
By the book's end, Tom's life has completely changed, at least in all the ways it should have. Essentially, Tom has grown up. In fact, I see Domestic Violets as a coming of age tale, with a couple of satisfactory twists at the end. Domestic Violets is one of the best reads I've had in a long time and I look forward to more of Matthew Norman's work. Highly recommended!
Rating 5 Stars