Review: A Tiny Bit Marvellous
Author: Dawn French
Published: Penguin Books 2010
Synopsis: This first novel by Dawn French is told through the eyes of a mother and her two teenage children. There’s seventeen-year-old Dora, a stroppy teenager who’s just come out of her first relationship (it lasted a whole six weeks) and who’s longing to escape to university; her long-suffering mother, Mo, a child psychiatrist who’s baffled by the antagonist behaviour of her children; and sixteen-year-old Peter, who prefers to be known as Oscar due to his obsession with Oscar Wilde. Written in diary format, with each chapter narrated by a different voice, this is a hilarious, sharp and utterly compelling novel about the ups and down of family, sibling rivalry and growing up. With each chapter told from the point of view of one character, Dawn French’s witty and engaging novel offers us an honest and insightful account into the relationships between children and parents.
Status: Read from October 12 to 13, 2011 — I own a copy
I’ve always liked Dawn French for her wit, particularly in her role as The Vicar of Dibley. When I won this novel courtesy of Mel’s Random Reviews I was thrilled and took in away with me on my recent holiday looking for a laugh or two. I actually found myself laughing quite a lot as A Tiny Bit Marvellous is a hilarious exaggeration of a dysfunctional family simply trying to get through everyday.
Dawn French’s voice is so distinctive and her bawdy humor and wry talent for comedic observation is evident when reading. It’s terribly British with a lot of slang and cultural references that will be probably be unfamiliar to readers outside the Commonwealth yet the general gist can be interpreted.
To be honest the plot is is a bit thin but the eccentric characters are hugely entertaining. The story unfolds through a series of chapters by the various members of the Battle family, seventeen year old drama queen Dora, fifteen year old Oscar Wilde devotee Peter and harried mother and therapist Mo, with the last word given to Dad Battle.
Each family member is (appropriately) battling with their own issues. Dora has no idea what she is going to do post high school (academics are not her strong suit), she’s just been dumped by her first real boyfriend and she regularly employs a creative if rather rude string of adjectives to describe her mother. She is a little over the top and brattish but eye rollingly amusing.
Peter AKA Oscar longs for a smoking jacket, and speaks as if is stuck in the late 1880′s. He heads an exclusive club at school that idolises Audrey Hepburn, Peter Andre and develops a crush on his mother’s newest antipodean intern. His insight is equally as impressive as his delusion.
Mo is in the midst of a crisis. Despite her success as a child therapist she is scorned by her daughter and baffled by her son. She is ripe for the attention of an unscrupulous younger man who offers excitement and adventure that her mild husband doesn’t. Caught up in a daydream of escape she is oblivious to her family’s personal trials.
Then there is Pamela, Mo’s mother, who wisely dispenses advice on sex, a survivalist receptionist and several other odd characters thrown into the mix.
Fun, irreverent and there are even recipes in the back, A Tiny Bit Marvellous is, well, a tiny bit marvellous.
Available to Purchase