For What It's Worth

Thursday, August 4, 2011

ARC Review: Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

Domestic Violets: A Novel (P.S.) 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. (Adult - Fiction)

I knew Domestic Violets was about a man going through marital troubles and a mid-life crisis but the book is billed primarily as a comedy (at least from the snippets of conversation I've read on Twitter and elsewhere) so I wasn't prepared for the jolt of reality I got.

Matthew Norman's debut novel Domestic Violets tells the story of a marriage - a good marriage - but not a perfect one. In all marriages there is a time when the spine tingling kisses, hopes and dreams start taking a back seat to reality. Tom and Anna are trying to have a another baby, he hates his job as a copywriter for company X and as an aspiring writer, Tom has had to live in the shadows of his famous Pulitzer Prize winning, womanizing father, Curtis. All the pressure has literally rendered Tom impotent.

"Tom Violet has failed once again, to have sex with his wife."

Anna has long stopped believing in Tom's potential as a writer. Tom has long stopped making Anna feel desired. These two have started taking each other for granted and have reached the point where they drift apart rather then supporting each other. They both turn to other people.

Everyone has a topic that is difficult for them to read about. Maybe it's child abuse, death, violence. Whatever it is, we usually have something that we avoid reading. Mine is infidelity. I don't like reading about it. Even in YA between boyfriends and girlfriends but especially in marriage. I get that it happens but it usually makes me judge the characters harshly and if you don't like the people you're reading about it's often difficult to enjoy the book.

As much as I hate the topic, Norman writes in such an honest, raw, poignant and yes, humorous voice that I could not help but understand and relate to these flawed characters and their circumstances.

While Tom spirals out of control in his friendship with young, pretty co-worker Katie, Anna starts heading off to the gym and business trips leaving things unsaid between them. I wanted to scream…."DANGER DANGER"!

When Tom's father Curtis shows up unexpectedly, a whirlwind of emotions are drudged up and cracks in relationships are exposed. The supporting characters are well developed even though they float around the periphery of the main story.

There were a few times that the story dragged for me and Tom's woe is me attitude got on my nerves occasionally. He is worried about his wife cheating even though he has been mentally cheating on Anna for a very long time now. Although my inner rebel loved when he landed a direct hit of sarcasm at his idiot bosses, I was also a little annoyed at how casually he treated his job when he had a wife and child to support. He only seemed to take things seriously and man up when it involved defending Katie.

Domestic Violets made me very uncomfortable but in the best possible way. It's been a week now since I read it but I still find myself discussing the book with my husband. (He hasn't read it yet, so this is mainly a one sided conversation) I'm still thinking about Tom, Anna and Curtis. The ending was very satisfying. Not perfect but real and I found myself smiling……and still squirming a little.

Rating 3.5 out of 4 A thought provoking debut exploring the messy underbelly of love, family, work and everything in-between.

Find Matthew Norman: Blog (hilarious btw), Twitter (even funnier than the blog) guaranteed at least 1 laugh per day, Facebook

Source: Amazon Vine for my honest review
Buy the book! Domestic Violets: A Novel (P.S.)
Publisher: Harper Collins August 9, 2011


  1. uh oh, i'm more of a fantasy reader, not reality :) Thanks for the review!!

  2. I'm glad it was a great read and witty! Infidelity freaks me out, too. I can't read it...I should add it to the "no torture" review policy as another strong theme I can't handle. My tolerance for strong themes is rather low, I notice.