Domestic Violets and I did not get off to a good start. I was eager to read it, mostly because it was being touted on The Olive Reader,1 but I was completely put off by the first chapter. I'm not even sure that I made it through the first chapter the first time I picked up Domestic Violets. The novel opens with its protagonist, Tom Violet, angst-ridden over his inappropriately flaccid penis. I had no patience for that so set Domestic Violets aside in favor of one of the other books loaded onto my Nook. If I hadn't gotten Domestic Violets from NetGalley and felt duty-bound to review it, I probably wouldn't have picked it up again. But, I'm glad that I did. By the time I finished Domestic Violets, my irritations2 seemed minor.
So many aspiring writers dream of writing the great American novel.3 I can't say that Norman's debut is the novel, but it shows great potential. In Domestic Violets Norman writes thoughtfully and comedically about contemporary American life (the realities of and the disenchantment inherent therein).
Protagonist Tom does suffer from erectile dysfunction (as well as any number of other marital and employment-related difficulties), but his main problem is that he's an aspiring novelist living under the shadow of his hugely successful father. While it seems strange to think of bildungsroman with a 35-year-old protagonist, Domestic Violets is very much a coming-of-age tale. The action of the novel takes place over a relatively short amount of time, during which Tom finds both the need and the will to consider what he does and does not like about his life and make some necessary changes.
Domestic Violets will be published in September.
- Check out the book you should read this fall.
- Yes, that's irritations-plural. I wasn't keen on the Gregory character and the over-the-top way he and Tom interacted.
- Maybe that should be Great American Novel.
disclosure: I received a review copy of Domestic Violets from HarperCollins via NetGalley.