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.