Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a wonderful debut novel for Matthew Norman. The inner monologue of the main character, Tom Violet, makes this story wonderful. Tom has several common problems. His marriage is in a slump, he has a crush on a young female co-worker he shouldn't have, he lives in the shadow of his father's accomplishments (a famous novelist who just won the Pulitzer prize), and he hates his day-job and has dreams of being something better.
Each character, especially Tom Violet, is so well developed that you start hearing their voices and seeing their faces immediately. I spent several years of my life in the Washington, D.C. setting of the novel. Like many cities, Washington D.C. has its own personality. The dynamic of the city and it's unique inhabitants were well portrayed.
Tom Violet reminded me of my favorite friends who always have a funny quip and aren't afraid to laugh at themselves. He knows he has problems and hasn't quite figured out how to deal with them. The reader spends the novel watching him analyze what he should do and the good and bad results of those decisions along the way.
All the characters are flawed in different ways and the flaws feel genuine and necessary to the story. Often the quirks of characters don't serve a purpose, but here each one is necessary to understand Tom's perspective of the world around him. As a reader I found myself feeling bad for each mistake made because everyone in the novel seemed like good, but sometimes misguided, people. Aren't we all.
This was a terrific read and I can't wait for the next novel from Matthew Norman.