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A Tiny Bit Marvellous - not marvellous enough
A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French
Member Name: PaigeTurner
A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French
Advantages: Dawn French has her finger on the pulse when it comes to modern families
Disadvantages: Too light-hearted and lacking in depth for a novel
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.
Summary: There is much merit in Dawn French's novel but she struggles to move out of comic sketch style