Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Review - Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

Title: Domestic Violets  
Author: Matthew Norman 
Year: 2011
Page: 352
Genre: Fiction

FTC Disclosure: Free copy from HarperPerennial as part of September EDIWTB Online Book Club. Go to Gayle's website for the discussion on 10/3/11 here!

Summary (from

Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.

The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.

Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

First Sentence: I splash cold water on my face.

My Thoughts:

  • Normally this is not a book I would have picked (neither the book cover nor the title would have attracted me to pick it up). But I have heard so many good reviews, and I particularly wanted to read it after Sophisticated Dorkiness gave it 5 Stars (see her review here)!
  • I guess after reading the book, I could kinda see why it was titled Domestic Violets. However, I kept thinking Domestic Violence instead which isn't really relevant... 
  • The cover... I don't even know how to describe it. Some people say this books is a "dude lit" - like chick lit but for guys. So in that regard, I can see why the cover is designed this way. It does resemble a chick lit book cover somewhat :) 
  •  It was a light, fun read, with lots of contemporary references (e.g. Obama Vs McCain, the economy, unemployment etc). However, it is somewhat predictable. No, when I first started reading it, I have no idea where the book would lead me, but as I read it, I could see where the story was going, and was able to guess most of the book twists.
  • The part I enjoyed the most was the main protagonist Tom Violet's argument with his co-worker Gregory. I thought it was quite witty. While I am probably more like Gregory than Tom (ha, yes I use buzz words!) I think sometimes we all wished we had Tom's guts to do what he did in the office.
  • My favorite character was Tom's daughter, Allie. She was quite a perceptive little girl. 
  • The characters were all quite realistic, they were flawed but you felt like you knew them. I think you could see parts of each character in someone you know, whether they are your families, friends, co-workers or acquiescences. 
  • The book included an interview with the author. I liked his insight on "This Book May or May Not Be Completely Autobiographical". I guess if I ever meet an author, I won't ask that question :)
  • While I liked the book, I didn't love it. This book reminded me of  This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper in terms of style, but I thought This Is Where I Leave You was funnier. It also reminded me a bit of the Human Bobby by Gabe Rotter when I first started reading it, since the protagonists were somewhat similar - they were about the same age, they both had a good family but something bad happened... but I loved the Human Bobby (review to come!) because of the plot twists, so this book paled in comparison.
  • What did I learn? I may like dude lit better than chick lit :) But no, I am not a dude :)

The captain of a ship can run a great ship, but he can't do anything about the tides. (p50)

Married couples really only have a few arguments. They just keep having them over and over again. (p65)

Overall Rating:

3.5 Stars. Enjoyable read, but didn't wow me.

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  1. I said the exact same thing in my review! (which actually didn't post yet, I don't think) But anyway, I totally agree with all of it, including thinking that Tropper is the superior writer of that sort of style.

  2. @rhapsodyinboks - glad to know I am not the only one, since there were so many positive reviews out there! I had only read one Tropper, while I also didn't love it as much as other people, I did like that book better and could totally see it being a Ben Stiller or Adam Sandler movie or something.

  3. Dude lit, lol, love that. I never would have picked from title or cover either.

    I do have This is where I leave You on my Wishlist.

    I just responded on my commentluv post.

  4. @Marce - based on cover/title, I am definitely not the intended audience! While I did find bits and pieces of There Is Where I Leave You funny (I quoted passage to my husband as I read... and thought I can see it become a movie, and apparently the movie rights had been sold), it is still not my favorite genre.