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DAWN IS A TINY BIT MARVELLOUS! YES REALLY!
A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French
Member Name: dawnymarie
A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French
Date: 30/07/11, updated on 01/06/12 (154 review reads)
Advantages: EASY TO READ - FULL OF DAWNS COMEDY - A TWIST THAT I DIDN'T EXPECT!
Disadvantages: NONE FOR ME!
This is Dawn French's First novel and that is what attracted me to it. I like Dawn's humor and imagined that she may easily inject that fabulous comic nature of hers into a composition. Blurb and ratings which adorn the cover intrigued me - No 1 Bestseller drew me in. Bought it, settled down and read it!
Mo is a middle aged woman, soon to turn 50. She is married to 'Husband' and has two children. Dora is at a problematic stage in her life - teenager - and is soon to be 18. Peter (Oscar) is the tender age of 16 and has quite eccentric tendencies. Life is chaotic and stressful within the Battle household. Mo has regular altercations with Dora - who is intent on blaming Mo for anything and everything that goes wrong in her life. The increasingly unusual behavior of Peter - who insists on being called Oscar after his hero Oscar Wilde - is a cause for concern and the 'husband' has a knack of disappearing when conflict occurs. Mo begins to feel 'lost' and disillusioned - until a risky opportunity captivates her and brings her back to life. What will she decide to do? And how will this effect the delicate balance of the Battle family?
SETTLE DOWN AND ENJOY
The prose is written in the first person and in a diary format which I was immediately comfortable with. The main protagonists being Mo, Dora and Peter (who I shall refer to as Oscar) all keep a diary and that is how the composition is delivered. Each chapter is one characters diary entry. Something rather unusual happened when I began reading, I have never experienced it before when reading a book - I had a voice for each character! Mo was Dawn French, Dora was Vicky Pollard and Oscar was a mixture of Michael McIntyre and Stewie off Family Guy? The reason for this is the dialect which Dawn has employed beautifully for each individual; and it really did work incredibly well.
Dora is the first family member that we meet and she has a full range of expletives to bestow, though I did not find it offensive - indeed it was hilarious at times. I warmed to this girl rather quickly and emphasised with her. I found her hormonal behavior believable and it brought back memories of my teenage years and how difficult the adjustment from child to adult can be.
Mo introduces herself next and I just cannot get Dawn out of my head for her character - the way she speaks is just so like Dawn. I am not the same generation as Mo but I could imagine how it would be to feel unneeded. I could connect with the challenges that she faced and admired her response to the tirade of abuse that she endures from the troubled Dora. Reaching an age milestone herself - 50 - Mo seems disappointed with her life and it was interesting to see the effects that this had on a professional woman.
Oscar is just a pearl of a character - his traits are 'enchanting'. Indeed that is what he refers to himself as 'enchanted'. His fabulous dialect was a highlight in this prose for me. I rather greedily consumed his diary entries and could not wait for more. I found this character enthralling! I can hear him now in his Michael McIntyre/Stewie style voice verbalising his wonderful musings to his two dear friends. He is so intelligent and capable in the classroom, often overshadowing the teachers with his knowledge and confidence which oozes out of him. I found this boy to be endearing and had no problem believing that persons of both sexes would seek out his company - likes moths to a flame! Oscar is a jewel in the crown that is 'A tiny bit marvellous'!
I found it really bizarre that the husband is referred to as simply 'husband' and remains two dimensional - but as the prose continues this element works well and is fitting for the input that 'husband' provides. The mother of Mo 'Pamela' is developed as much as 'husband' and also remains two dimensional and this is more than enough. I felt that I had an understanding of these two characters without becoming bogged down with too much to remember. Other supporting characters are developed adequately.
Mo is a child psychologist, she is successful and conveys a calm and serene persona whilst in the office, however when at home she is a screaming banshee for the majority of the time. I find that to be believable as so often we can put on a smiley face at work and then return home exhausted and become a whole different person. The thing that struck me was Mo having an in depth and specialist knowledge about teenagers and how to deal with them; unfortunately in practice she totally fails to utilise this wisdom with her own teenagers. She does not realise her omission. There are some fabulous interactions between Mo and Dora that highlight this observation and mostly they are amusing though at times poignant. Dawn has managed to capture 'real' life and infuse it with rich humor - it is so refreshing to read. But Mo is having a crisis, she feels 'grey' and invisible to everyone and incredibly disillusioned with her life. I sympathised with her, she had children almost grown up, she was greying and sagging and no longer recognised the woman in the mirror - well she did but it was her mother! Even though there was humor in the prose the reality of getting older and not being needed anymore was obvious - this is a life changing time and Mo was at a loss. Then an unexpected compliment lit up her life - Mo was alive again! This was exhilarating reading, the pages were turning rapidly.
Mo is not the only person going through a change, her children where both in turmoil with Dora becoming desperate for attention and love - though at the same time being incredibly difficult to be around. This is where the themes of body image, betrayal, hatred and fantasy were woven smoothly into the prose - sensitively but with Dawn's unique comedy. I was laughing out loud for the majority of the time, whilst at the same time reflecting on difficult issues - real life issues that are a part of life for young girls today. I gained an insight into the reality of growing up in today's society and the effect that the pressure has on a family unit. Oscar has his challenges with sexuality and individuality. When Oscar is in the spotlight you can do nothing but smile and laugh - he is infectious. He does not conform to the fashion statements of this era, he wears exquisite clothes and is proud to do so - he cares not if he attracts negative attention. I admired his resolve and supreme confidence to be who he is rather than conforming to the norm to please others and meet expectations. Another quality in Oscar's traits was his ability to 'bounce back' from a bad experience - he doesn't attach to the past and dwell, he swiftly identifies another opportunity and moves on.
Husband and Pamela are the backbone of the family and though their part to play in the book is less full bodied than the main three protagonists it became clear to me how important their role was in this hectic crisis stricken family. Pamela is regularly visited by family members for individual counselling and has a different cake prepared for each member - I thought that was intriguing and at the end of the novel you can find the recipes for each cake, a really nice touch!
The prose develops nicely around Dora's A level examinations and graduation - and the tension that it brings, along with Mo's dissatisfaction with life in general and feelings of being 'lost'. The plot is somewhat sneakily woven into the chaos of the household and just when I thought I had an idea of what was to come I was proved very wrong. The outcome of the three family members desires to be noticed and loved - to fulfill their fantasies - was pretty shocking and what is concerning is that just as the prose is based on real life hectic families, so too is the revelation of the plot. My jaw dropped and it was not with laughter this time - Dawn has a serious side to her too!
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH DAWN!
This book is just a '''Tiny bit marvellous'''. Right from page one I was hooked - this prose starts as it means to go on. The book itself is a high quality cover and paper and I liked the doubled spaced lines which made reading really comfortable. The main protagonists where well rounded and I quickly became familiar with their traits, which I found believable. I certainly warmed to all of them, they all have their flaws but I think that is what was so endearing because we all have imperfections. I could empathise will each one of them and enjoyed getting to know them. My favorite has to be young Oscar! What a fabulous character he is and with the accompanying Michael McIntyre voice in my head for his dialect the humor was priceless! The issues that were emphasized were relevant to this decade and sensitively covered. The plot line was immaculately incorporated within this original prose and it kept me guessing right until the end - which was a shock! Themes included conflict (plenty of it!), hatred, betrayal, love, lust, fantasy, body image, peer pressure and realisations. The conclusion of the prose was satisfactory and I was not left wondering about anything. What I will take away from reading this book is - have a good long look at what you have got and appreciate it.
BITS & BOBS
AVAILABILITY: Amazon and most good bookstores
PRICE: £9.91 (hardback) £4.39 (paperback)
I can wholeheartedly recommend Dawn's first novel. It is a '''Tiny bit marvellous'''! A page turner that has a laughs on more or less every page! The dialect is wonderful and the characters believable. Oscar is a star in my eyes - just loved him! Settle down for a good read!
THANKING YOU KINDLY
Many thanks for taking the time to read this review. Hope you found it helpful. Also published on CIAO under my username.
Summary: OSCAR STEALS THE SHOW!