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A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Dawn French / Edition: Standard / Hardcover / 352 Pages / Book is published 2010-10-28 by Michael Joseph

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    9 Reviews
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      16.06.2013 14:26
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      Fabulous book about the conflicts and intricacies of modern day life

      Although this book has been out for some time I have only recently read it having been passed to me by my mom last week who thought it was okay but not one of her favourites. I have always liked most everything Dawn French has done and soon settled down for a good read.

      The book is written in the format of a diary with each character writing their own section which really seems to work and makes the book quite easy reading. The dysfunctional Battle family consists of mother Mo who is just turning 50 and when she looks in the mirror no longer recognises herself. Dora is her daughter and is the teenager from hell, utterly selfish and continuously rude to her mother and Peter is the son but likes to be called Oscar as he is completely obsessed with Oscar Wilde, and is never happier than when he is wearing his smoking jacket.

      Other characters in the book are the father of the family who does not play a very big part in the book other than being reliable and supportive to the rest of the family (although he does come into his own at the end), and Mo's mom Pamela who makes delicious cakes and provides wisdom and understanding to all, and not forgetting the family dog, Poo!.

      I felt I could relate to the story and the relationship between mother and her siblings, maybe as I am myself fifty something and have had two teenage children myself. There is a lot of colourful language throughout the book but I feel it is in context with the characters and is probably quite true to life.

      The twist to the book is superb, and as in some books when it is obvious what the ending is going to be within the first couple of chapters, it wasn't until I turned the page and read what happened that I had the first inkling of the events which happened. It was definitely one of those 'Well I never expected that' moments. The book is about the conflicts and intricacies of modern family life with two main story lines throughout the book which all come together beautifully at the end.

      If you haven't yet got round to reading this book it's definitely worth a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it and read it in just over a day.

      The book was first published in 2010 so you can pick up a paperback copy quite cheaply from Amazon starting from £5.59 and second hand ones even cheaper.

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      05.03.2012 18:24
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      There is much merit in Dawn French's novel but she struggles to move out of comic sketch style

      I was so excited when I heard Dawn French had written a novel. I awaited the date it hit book shop shelves with anticipation and was expecting great things.
      I find Dawn French's comedy hugely entertaining and her script writing witty and well-observed. I was hoping her novel would incorporate her brand of humour and her observation of society with a high standard of writing skill. My hopes were somewhat met but I could not help feeling deflated.

      A Tiny Bit Marvellous shines the spotlight on the average family unit in modern society. The vehicle used to do this is the Battle family - who prove to live up to their name. The family consist of mother Mo, who is suffering the usual conflicts of the middle aged woman, feeling dissatisfied with her lot. As she faces turning 50 she looks in the mirror and she no longer
      sees herself looking back but her own mother. She no longer feels desired by her husband and is pushed to the limits by her two teenage children. Ironically, her job as a child psychologist does little to help her deal with the problems her own children throw at her. It is clear there is something
      autobiographical about Mo.

      Dora is the hormonally-charged teenage daughter. As she faces her 18th birthday she is desperate to get a boyfriend, is incredibly dissatisfied with her looks and is consumed with social networking.

      Her brother Peter prefers to be called Oscar - after Oscar Wilde. He is non-conformist and highly confident. He is not afraid to express himself vocally and through his unique style of dress. At 16-years-old he appears to have the head of a much older being but is still struggling with an inner conflict over who he is and his own sexuality, despite labelling himself rather boldly as 'enchanted'.

      The book is made up of diary entries from each of the three main characters. The husband is referred to only as 'husband' by Mo and remains two-dimensional until the very end when he is given his own voice and an heroic role to play.

      What I was really impressed with was how well Dawn French has her pulse on modern life. She captured fantastically the conflicts going on in every household between family members and also the conflicts going on within individuals themselves.

      Mo is very much Dawn French. It is her voice which speaks out from the page and you sense it is her struggles, arguments and relationships she talks about through Mo.

      She manages to capture the voice of Dora, however, equally well, from the way teenagers speak to the emotions and struggles they go through on making the difficult transition from child to adult hood. In this way it is very well observed and she also very successfully uses Dora as a platform to discuss the serious issue of grooming over social media.

      Oscar is a more fanciful and less realistic character but at the same time, venture into any school and you will find at least one similar personality. Through him she accurately captures the inner turmoil of a teenage boy coming to terms with his own difference and sexuality.

      In Mo, Dawn French explores the possible breakdown of the family unit as she contemplates an affair with a younger man.

      In this way, the novel tackles some rather meaty subjects, the characters are well-rounded and accurately captured, whilst the subject matter is very 21st century.

      But overall I found something lacking. I think I was expecting a bit more to get my teeth into. The manner in which the book has been written is a bit too light-heated and conversational. It lacks the required complexity and depth of a novel. Perhaps it would have been wiser to write the book in a different way to the diary entry, which by nature is more light in tone.

      There is much good in A Tiny Bit Marvellous but it is a bit too comic sketch and not enough novel to be as marvellous as I was expecting from Dawn French.

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      20.12.2011 23:46

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      A great book, well worth a go.

      Dawn French is her usual hilarious self; depicting a realistic yet laughable dysfunctional family life.
      The book is written from various perspectives, and French achieves fantastic portrayals of a sullen teen and her mother.
      However, what surprised me was that this book wasn't all laughs! I hadn't read her autobiograpy beforehand, and so did not know what to expect from Dawn French the writer.
      French portrays the mental torture of infidelity and other difficult subjects (spoilers!), sensitively and with respect to the subject matter.
      The book is shocking and emotional in places, but you're kept uplifted by the humorous way Dawn French writes.
      As a fan for a while, I was happily surprised by this book, and it was nice to see a serious side to the writer along with the humour.

      If you're looking for a light piece of chick-lit, you're probably in the wrong place, 'A Tiny Bit Marvellous' is more substantial than that, but it's well worth a read.

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      27.11.2011 00:50
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      The story of a woman surviving a dysfunctional family, looking for adventure and not finding it.

      I had high expectations of this book as I loved the wit and style of Dawn French in her acting career and thought this book would reflect the same. However I felt that she held herself back a little bit, I felt that there were big laughs coming as I turned each page but they never came and I didnt experience the belly laughs I thought I would. It was mildly amusing but no more than that, I didnt bond to the main characters very well and found their stories a little unbelievable in places, not funny, just unbelievable. And I found myself getting annoyed with the female lead as she did things that I felt were out of character for her and which made the plot a little sad, particularly at the end. I was expecting a lot more funny for my money and was a little disappointed with it. Basically the story involves a woman, Mo, who is about to become 50 and the realisation hits her hard, she is trying to cope with 2 teenagers who are not the easiest people to live with, Dora who is a stereotypical angry young woman and Peter who is just plain weird. Flattery and a last ditch attempt to have some fun lead Mo down a rather sad path and it all left me feeling just a little bit embarressed for her.

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        30.07.2011 20:21
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        Brilliant Read.

        This was truly brilliant. Not only was it enjoyed by myself, due to the multiple view points and amusing perspectives Dawn French provides but because she creates a familiarity with the characters instantly by painting a realistic, hilarious picture of family life.
        My Mother who also equally enjoyed this marvel, is 46 so it demonstrates that regardless of age it is highly improbable that you will not enjoy this book.
        Dawn French writes in an eloquent fashion however conjoins this was "english slang" to represent the daughter's perspective on things.
        If you like "French and Saunders" style of comedy, then you will love this book. I was laughing from the first page and continued to be hysterics until the last! I've already recommended this book to my friends, who are currently loving this little wonder.
        A great read, that I would highly recommend to anyone who is stuck for something to get their teeth in to!

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          18.05.2011 21:25

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          An insight into the life of your average family.

          As someone who's been a Dawn French fan for a while, I thought it was time to get my hands on this book and see how she'd done. Having read her autobiography last year I was hoping that this would be equally as good and I was not dissappointed. Based on your typical dysfunctional family, this book has characters that everyone can connect with. There's Mo the mum, who is having a bit of a mid life crisis, reliable dad, and teenagers 'dopey' Dora, and Peter, who thinks he's Oscar Wilde. And who could forget the gran who doubles up as an agony aunt, always there with a listening ear and some kind of homemade comfort food. This is the unblemished truth about family life and the tears, tantrums and trauma that goes with living with family who don't understand each other. A marvellous read for anyone who likes to laugh out loud.

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          30.04.2011 16:35
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          Very funny book - simply marvellous

          This is a review of the 2010 book 'a tiny bit marvellous' by Dawn French. I had seen a few interviews where this book was mentioned and also enjoyed reading Dawn's autobiography so thought I'd give this book a try.

          Written from the viewpoint of three main characters, the story follows Mo a nearly-fifty mother and her daughter Dora and son Peter who prefers to be called Oscar. Mo refers to her partner as 'husband' rather than by his name Den throughout the book.

          Mo is a psychologist who is good at her job (working with young adult) but falls painfully short where her own family is concerned. She misunderstands her daughter and ignores her son even though both of them have huge issues they need to work through.

          Dora is a really interesting character. Her chapters are written almost entirely in slang and make for hillarious reading, for example when she is sick she says 'Was like, spewing up like a blue whale's blow hole last night... 'his really made me chuckle.

          I love the diary style narration. Underneath this is a strong storyline which weaves the characters together in a really clever way. Behind the main three, Nana Pat is the true matriarch of the family and acts as confidante, advisor and listener with the added bonus of tea and cake. Her wise words are soothing and wise but she does not step over the confidentiality boundaries with each family member.

          My favourite character by far is Peter to be known as his hero Oscar (Wilde) from now on. He falls in love easily and speaks with frills and added humour. I loved reading his chapters and laughed out loud at his flamboyant clothes sense (smoking jacket, fur legwarmers and female accdessories) - for a 16 year old he is very advanced and intelligent and runs rings around all the adults in his life.d His 'enchantment' club is hillarious with limited membership (two) and amusing discussions on the best looking (enchanting) men in the world.

          There are lots of modern links to facebook, iphones, the internet and best of all, Dora's aspirations to have an MTV style 18th birthday party, prom style like they have in America, except no one at school can come as it's during the holidays. She settles for a sleepover at home with a KFC family bucket after her fantasy party falls flat on its face.

          I would totally recommend this book to all readers out there. It is brilliant and has something for everyone. You sympathise with Mo as she struggles in mid life crisis, feeling unattractive and tired with everything and everyone. Just get it to read the Oscar chapters, it's well worth it! A top score of 5/5 from me.

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          04.02.2011 14:08
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          A great lighthearted read.

          A Tiny Bit Marvellous is the debut novel of Dawn French. The book tells the tale of child psychologist Mo Battle and her family.

          Meet the family

          Dora Battle - Dora is your typical stroppy teenager, who approaching her 18th birthday is struggling to find her place in life. She feels completely misunderstood by her Mother who in her mind was put on the earth just to nag and embarrass her.

          Peter Battle - Peter is a rather esentric sixteen year old, who has a strange obsession with Oscar Wilde and prefers to be called Oscar, which he feels suits him much better than the rather ordinary 'Peter'.

          Dad - A rather down to earth, family orientated Man.

          *** ***

          The story is told by diary extracts from Mo, Dora, Oscar and Dad. (Only one from Dad), which together depict the tale of the all too familiar fracas of modern family life.

          Mo who is coming very close to hitting her 50th birthday is having a bit of a mid life crisis. She feels nothing in her life is right and feels dowdy and grey both inside and out. Her life has become a constant battle with daughter Dora who has become a rather obnoxious stroppy teenager. The pair seem incapable of having a civil conversation only constant rows and arguments. Mo also has a struggle relating to her younger child Oscar, who is little essentric to say the least. Poor Mo struggles to deal with the fact that she can't seem to relate to her children, she feels that as a child phycologist that it is her job to understand, so why can't she.

          Meanwhile Dora has traumas of her own, having to cope with being dumped by her long term boyfriend (long term being a whole six weeks), the betrayal of her only friend, leaving school and embarking on the process of applying to colleges.

          Then there is Oscar who seems to live in a world of his own, drifting through life feeling superior and misunderstood. Then in the background is good old Dad, he doesn't feature heavily through most of the book but comes into his own towards the end.

          *** ***

          My opinion of the book

          As the book is written by Dawn French I was expecting it to be packed with wit and humor and I wasn't disappointed. The book is extremely funny, laugh aloud funny in places. The characters are portrayed brilliantly and you get to really feel you know them, know them but not necessarily like them. I found myself warming to both Mo and Dora. Mo, who can come across as selfish at times really just wants to make the best of her life and that of her children. Dora comes across as stroppy, moody and a bit immature but it is her narrations which I found the most amusing, her outlook on life is hilarious at times. I don't feel that you get that much insight into Dad as he is very much in the background, but from the times he is mentioned he comes across as a warm, caring family man. And then there is Peter (or Oscar as he prefers to be called), I really could not warm to his character at all, he comes across as quite an obnoxious young man, full of his own self importance and ideas of grandeur.

          This book seems to be a little lacking is substance and the plot a little predictable at times but it is so so funny in places. For me it is the humor is what makes this a good read.

          Hardback
          ISBN-10: 0718156048
          ISBN-13: 978-0718156046

          Release date for Paperback is 23 June 2011

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            02.02.2011 18:08
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            A really good book by Dawn French.

            This is the first year my future brother in law has actually bone out and purchased individual presents for myself, my husband and my two children, and though advised by his partner (my younger sister!), actually picked the book I will now review for you, all by himself (clever boy! Lol!).

            The book in question is - "A tiny bit marvellous by Dawn French"

            I have to say I was delighted with this present, my friend at work had just been talking about it the day previous, saying how it had been quite highly rated on some television programme, and she had gone out purchased it on that say so, needless to say I started reading it immediately!

            The book is written from the first person perspective, and is told a chapter at a time from the wonderful family the story is written about, wonderful but completely dysfunctional!

            Mo is the mum, and also a child psychiatrist, so supposedly being an expert in children's feelings and emotions you would think she has a wonderful relationship with her brood....wrong!

            Her relationship is at nought, with her seventeen year old daughter Dora being at an all time low as she struggles with her lack of identity and low self esteem and her fourteen year old son Peter (who has now changed is name to Oscar) being held at arms length, this is in part due to his intellect and also his obsession with Oscar Wilde!

            Everything starts going to pot around a week before Mo's 5oth birthday, she feels like she no longer has an identity and feels ,low and unloved, worthless in fact, so with these feelings in her she starts to wallow in self pity, that is until she meets a New Zealander student, who is joining her place of work for a year an has specifically asked to shadow her.

            Dora is at breaking point. After being dumped (very unceremoniously!) in front of her ex's click and her friends at midnight on new years eve, she feels her life is over, and thus starts the downward spiral of self loathing and arguments with her "selfish twatty wonk" of a mother!

            Peter/Oscar is just to intelligent for his family, he can run rings around them and they just don't seem to "get him". Mo decides to try and get some counselling with her newest recruit (the beautiful New Zealander) but Peter just becomes obsessed with him, convincing himself he is his future lover and starts all out stalking him.

            The only person who gets just one chapter to himself is Dad, (my husband would say that is because he feels all Dad's are second class citizens...behind the children, welcome to my world love!) who out of all of them is actually the glue that seems to be holding this particular family together!

            This story of course has to be going somewhere, (which of course I won't spoil for you today!, but does show how wrong people can get things in their lives, but also shows that a mistake is a mistake, with there always being a chance to rectify it.

            I have to say this book is absolutely superb, with the characters being sensational to read about, especially with them promoting themselves from their own point if view, and getting it completely wrong!

            Mo is a wonderful woman who has just forgotten how hard it is for her children, and doing what most of us mothers do, try, shout, get it wrong then hopefully actually help, as even with all her so-called "qualifications, she still seems to struggle to be able to communicate with her children.

            Dora is a typical teenager, all mouth and bad language, she could have quite possible been based on myself at that age (my relationship with my mother was terrible until I moved out at 19!), she really has such a low self esteem that she feels that bleaching her hair white blond and straw like, and plastering the make up on, she will at least still have a place in the click at school "the plastics", though she doesn't really like them she feels the compulsion to be one, luckily she has her best friend Lottie who is helping her through all of that, or is she?

            Peter/Oscar is a starnge charcter to read about, but I supose this is due to me never having read about an eccentric as a child!
            His obsession with Oscar Wilde is in part due to his homosexuality, though he never hides it and even actively relishes in it starting his own club at school for "like minded people", so there is now grand "coming out" but more an acceptance of what he is, just not always how he can deal with it, as even though he is a very intelligent character, he still manages to get it very wrong at times.

            As I said before each chapter is written from a certain persons perspective, and I love how each chapter is tailored to the character.

            Mo's chapters are written as you would expect her to talk, full of adult self importance, especially when referring to her children (I do it myself sometimes, forgetting how bloody hard it is to be going through these stages of life), but you always get the underlying sadness from her, she is a fantastic if somewhat selfish character.

            Dora's chapters made me want to slap the character and at the same time love and hug her, she seemed to hide all her hurt with anger, and did just as I expected her to, get drunk, dress like a slapper then flash her boobs on face book, it all seems to be trying to deflect from her real hurt, her lack of contact with her Mum.

            The way her chapters are written she comes across as again a self obsessed chav, with every other word being an expletive and her entire future being run and ruined by her "Freudian arsehole mother", she is fun to read about but annoying at the same time, as many of us will remember (though not in this terrific Technicolor) becoming Dora, though hopefully only for a very short time!

            Finally Peter/Oscar, this by far is the strangest character I have ever read about. He is obviously very clever, with him being quite bored by the norm and always striving for something else. He is a self confessed eccentric and this is evident with how his characters speech has been written, full of flowery language reminiscent of Oscar, which of course who he bases himself on, though not trying to be as everyone else thinks, he is eccentric not mental!
            H constantly refers to his sister in sarcastic terms, "dreary Dora, dull Dora", but is there for her when she really needs him, so the dynamic between them is very real feeling too.

            This is of course written by Dawn French, so after reading and falling in love with her previous offering (Dear Fatty), I knew this would be good, but didn't realise how good and funny she could get.

            Her wit is acerbic yet appealing to the masses, with each character having traits that most of us would find in ourselves, thus drawing us into the story itself, think the "Royle family", how many of us can say we know someone like the main characters, this book has the same feeling to it making it a joy to read and interact with.

            Price wise this is available from www.amazon.co.uk for around the £8.00 mark, and is worth every penny!

            This is a fantastic read and I highly recommended it!

            Thanks for reading x

            ISBN 978-0-718-15604-6

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