Domestic Violets is brilliant and sparklingly humorous account of Violets, Tom and his legendary writer father Curtis. Narrated in first person by Tom, it is an amazing and marvellous tale of his midlife crisis and his coming into his own groove as a writer himself and all the things in between.
One of my favourite bloggers gave this book a big thumps up. So I instinctively went ahead and bought it. Glad I did that because this surely is one of the best novels I read this year. I don’t like to rank books. (It’s as smart as or as stupid as ranking batsmen in cricket. How do you rank Tendulkar, Bradman, Viv Richards? So how the hell you rank To Kill a Mockingbird, The Fountainhead or Darkness at Noon? I never got that.) But Domestic Violets is sitting pretty tight near the top of the pile that I finished this year. I am really happy to end the year on a high note.
Tom Violet is 35, married to beautiful Anna, father of seven year old sweet Allie, Director of Marketing Copy-Writing and an aspiring writer. Picture perfect? Well.. Almost except that his marriage is disintegrating, he is stuck up with a job he loathes aboard a company (dubbed Death Star by Tom) whose real contribution to the world he is unsure of. He has a hopeless crush on Katie, his 23 year old chirpy assistant copy writer and the Pulitzer winning novel he has been writing for last 5 years is finally complete but buried in his drawer. Even his dog suffers from acute anxiety. The world around him is sinking fast (courtesy Lehman Brothers and others). Meanwhile his father, a celebrated writer actually wins the Pulitzer.
Tom Violet is such a likable guy. He is someone you can easily relate to. (Albeit more daring and witty.) Stuck up on corporate ladder.. Dreaming to be something else. He is insecure, vulnerable not sure about himself and therefore hides the manuscript of his unpublished novel. He conceals his anxiety behind a mask of complete cynicism. As the novel progresses, his life goes from bad to worse. He makes some pretty awful mistakes along the way too. Yet he is an honest and quite a good guy deep down. So one day he finally decides to take things in his own hands and as they say the rest is history.
The centre piece of the book though is the relationship that Tom shares with his brilliant, famous but philanderer dad who has left his recent trophy wife and come to stay with Tom’s family. It’s heartening to see Tom emerge slowly but surely out of the shadows of his dad. Books on father-son relationships are comparatively far and few between and probably that’s one of the reasons I liked this book so much.
It’s a hilarious book and Norman certainly has style and knows how to tell a story well. The book is interspersed with sharp one liners that certainly will make you LOL. Through Tom who pretends that knowledge is a burden and therefore prefers to be surprised and eventually horrified, Norman dwells upon love, marriage, faith, corporate world (Cubeland with ear splitting words like “synergy” and “best practices”) and following your dreams. Reading Domestic Violets was a fantastic and funny ride. I am sure I will visit it again sooner. Recommended whole heartedly.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.
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