Title: Domestic Violets
Author: Matthew Norman
Acquired: During an author signing at BEA
One Sentence Summary: Tom Violet’s life hasn’t quite lived up to his dreams, but that could all change if he can get his act together.
Two Sentence Review: This book is awesome. Read it.
Long Review: While I like to write my own book summaries, sometimes what’s on the back of the book is hard to beat. That’s case with Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman, a fabulous book from Harper Perennial:
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.
There have been a lot of fantastic reviews if the book, and frankly, I’m not sure what else interesting I can add. I absolutely loved reading Domestic Violets — it’s sarcastic, warm, sweet, and engaging throughout, and a book I’ve recommended to a number of people since I finished it last month.
When I started the book, I was reminded quite a bit of Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. Domestic Violets has the same really sarcastic look at the modern workplace that I find completely hilarious. Take, for instance, this observation from Tom, our lovable-yet-flawed-and-frustrating everyman, about his coworkers:
The color of his face is beginning to match his burgundy die. Greg is a tie guy, and I am a non-tie guy. This represents the rift among the males in our office — Business Casual vs. Business Formal — and I’m almost certain it will eventually lead to a choreographed dance fight in the employee lounge.
The different between the two books, in my experience, is that Domestic Violets is a much more affectionate book. Behind his sarcasm and critical eye, Tom is a loving and lovable guy, a friend, a person who wants to do more and do the right thing. I rooted for all of the characters in Domestic Violets.
In fact, that’s another great thing about this book. Although Tom is the main character, every person in the book has a moment to shine and moments where you see them grow as characters through some very real struggles. It’s much more of an ensemble cast book that I initially expected.
I do have some concerns about the books life-span. There are a lot of topical references to President Obama, the economic collapse, and other quite timely events that makes me wonder if the book will start to feel dated sooner than it might otherwise. But really, that’s just an observation made out of concern, because I thought this book was so excellent I want it to stick around for awhile.
Take the time to read Domestic Violets; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!