Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French

I have loved actress and comedienne Dawn French for years. (The Vicar of Dibley still makes me laugh) I was curious to see if her wonderful sense of humour translated to the written page. No worries - it did... and more.

In A Tiny Bit Marvellous we meet the Battles. And the name is somewhat apropos as battles seem to be the order of the day for this family. Mom Mo is an almost 50 child psychologist. She and daughter Dora (17) can't seem to speak to each other without a war of words igniting. Peter(16) prefers to be known as Oscar, as in Oscar Wilde, who he emulates in both style and syntax. Dad - well he's just Dad. Oh, and the dog - Poo.

Each chapter is told in first person through the eyes of each character. The same event (or affront) is told in their voice and viewpoint, often varying wildly. Each Battle is sorting through their own issues.

French had me laughing from the first few pages. She has captured the voices of these characters perfectly. The language, the tone, the scenarios - all were spot on. Oscar's voice was my favourite. I reread many of his sentences as I enjoyed them so much. But as the book continues, additional layers are added to the narratives, with deeper subjects explored - homosexuality, bullying, infidelity and more. All are handled with wit, candor and a deft touch. I was drawn into each member's narrative, quickly turning pages so I could find out what happened next in each of their spheres.

At first I identified with Mo and empathize with her restlessness. Perhaps because we're of similar age. However by the end of the book, I still respected her decisions, but wasn't overly enthralled with her. Instead it was Oscar who I fell in love with. His unfaltering sense of direction, his heart and his caring endeared him to me. There are two 'quiet' characters that we don't hear much from, but they both have a profound impact on everyone's lives. The first is Dad. The second is Grandmama - her unerring directness and intuition added much to the novel.

French's first novel is an absolute gem. Lots of laughter and real life. It's much more than a tiny bit marvellous!

Read an excerpt of ATiny Bit Marvellous. Read an interview with Dawn French or catch her discussing her book on You Tube.


Mystica said...

I'd love to get my hands on this one! I found her in The Vicar hilarious and the tongue in cheek humor fascinating!

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Kaye said...

Dawn is such a talented actor - it's amazing she hasn't been in more show. I just love her in Vicar of Dibley too along with Alice who is another really funny character. Thanks for highlighting the book. Have a great week, Luanne and happy reading.

Patti V. said...

Can't wait to read this. Dawn French is one of my favorites!

bermudaonion said...

I'm not familiar with Dawn French but the book does sound wonderful.

avisannschild said...

I love Dawn French too, so I'm keen to read this one. Glad to hear you thought it was marvellous!

Pam said...

Oh how fun! I don't know French but I'm home sick, today and I just came across the Vicar of Dibley and said "huh?" Now I know more and should probably go ahead and watch it...and read this. ;O)