What I read about this book before ordering it indicated that it was laugh-out-loud funny. The fact that I didn't find it to be so doesn't mean it was a bad book. There is humor, to be sure...it just happened to not be the kind that is LOL funny to me...and that's okay. What I discovered is a heart to the story that makes it just as (if not more) worthy of a read than just laughs.
In part, this book is about what it's like to be a fledgling writer when your father is one of the most famous and revered authors in the country--how you know your writing will always be compared to his and you wonder how (if?) you will ever measure up to his level of success as a writer.
In part, this book is about a son who has always seen his father in one light (and not a very positive one) and finally comes to know him as a full person.
In part, this book is about marriage--about when it works well and when it doesn't--and about how easy flirtations with someone you're around all the time can happen when you're feeling unfulfilled or disconnected from your spouse.
In part, this book is about erectile dysfunction. Yep, you read right. When I say in the title of my review that I found the book "slow to start," it's because the entire first part of the book was about a period in the main character's life when he is unable to "make things happen" with his wife, Anna. This shortcoming (sorry--had to) ends up impacting his marriage, as well as other areas of his life.
If you would have an issue reading about limp penises for a number of pages, this may not be the book for you. However, if you can get past the floppy dick phase of this story (which is I suppose the part that many people found hilarious), you will find there is a real heart to this story and this crazy, mixed-up family.
You won't always like these people but, if you're anything like me, you will come to have a soft spot (smile) for most of them by the end of the story. This is, at its heart, a father-son story. We're not talking treacly sweet and weepy Hallmark special here. This story shows the warts and all, but I think that is what makes it so ultimately rewarding.
I fell in love with this book by the end, and I hope you will too.
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“All this misery makes for good comedy … charmingly drawn …” (Washington Post on DOMESTIC VIOLETS )
“Timing, so important in comedy, is also exacting in Mr. Norman’s expert hands...Domestic Violetsleaves the reader satisfied by the intriguing plot written in a comic spirit; it also endears the author and hero to the reader for maximum poignancy.” (New York Journal of Books )
“Norman’s hilarious debut novel is a tale of a man’s middle-age quest to differentiate himself from his father and decide what’s worth changing and what’s worth keeping in his life.” (Washington Independent Review of Books on DOMESTIC VIOLETS )
“Norman’s debut novel is funny and incisive, and hard on sacred cows.” (Shelf Awareness )
“Matthew Norman has written a dastardly fun satire of contemporary domestic life [with} surprising twists on all the old conventions and a fresh perspective on a literary foundation that hearkens back to Philip Roth, John Updike and John Cheever. An astoundingly good read!” (Joshua Gaylord, author ofHummingbirds)
“so real, so funny” (Susan K. Perry, Ph.D. at Psychology Today )
“Norman controls his complicated story and handles its chaos and plot twists with a steady, funny hand.... this is a thoroughly entertaining, light but thoughtful read.” (Publishers Weekly )
“Domestic Violets is a wonderfully readable, riotous story... ...