sometimes witty book reviews
Modern life in the first world, where humans have enough time on their hands to get themselves in a right pickle. Dawn French’s first novel A Tiny Bit Marvellous traces the lives of three upper-middle class family members trapped in their own separate worlds but ultimately facing the same problems. The mother, a psychologist, is finding work dull, her husband boring and her children unbearable. Her son has taken to calling himself Oscar and spouting Wilde verse at the drop of a hat – additionally he’s in love with the lovely New Zealand hunk now working for his mother. Her daughter’s life has been taken over by technology and an infatuation with a boy she’s only ever talked to online.
Initially I was sceptical about French’s foray into long-form fiction. Though for the most part I adored her autobiography Dear Fatty (2007), some sections without narrative structure were difficult to read. Written as a series of letters to important people in her life, Dear Fatty was at times a bit too in-jokey to make sense to a wider audience.
I was pleasantly surprised by the clear direction and delicate suspense that French builds throughout A Tiny Bit Marvellous. Written through the diary entries of the three protagonists, the balance of the voices is pretty well kept in check. Though at times the daughter’s text-speech does become infuriating, Oscar’s quips do make up for it. There is also a fantastic plot twist.
Reading suggestion: Wear loose clothing for maximum comfort during giggling fits. Also if you have no idea who Dawn French is please immediately educate yourself with regards to this comedy legend.