Summary: Violet Parry is living the quintessential life of luxury in the Hollywood Hills with David, her rock-and-roll manager husband, and her darling toddler, Dot. She has the perfect life--except that she's deeply unhappy. David expects the world of Violet but gives little of himself in return. When she meets Teddy, a roguish small-time bass player, Violet comes alive, and soon she's risking everything for the chance to find herself again. Also in the picture are David's hilariously high-strung sister, Sally, on the prowl for a successful husband, and Jeremy, the ESPN sportscaster savant who falls into her trap. For all their recklessness, Violet and Sally will discover that David and Jeremy have a few surprises of their own. THIS ONE IS MINE is a compassionate and wickedly funny satire about our need for more--and the often disastrous choices we make in the name of happiness. -- Little Brown
I enjoyed reading THIS ONE IS MINE by Maria Semple, but I have to say that it did appeal to my "darker side." As much as I hate to admit it, I do like those Hollywood gossip shows; and if People Magazine weren't so darn expensive, I'd have a subscription. And don't even get me started on the HBO show Entourage -- I think it's a riot! I hesitate to use the word "fascinated," but I am somewhat intrigued by the whole Hollywood lifestyle. I don't think the people or the city could be any more different than my little city in Central PA. It's kind of amazing to me that people actually live like the ones in this novel.
This definitely isn't one of those novels where I related to any of the characters. If I had to choose one (cause you know how I like to feel something towards a character), I would have to say it was Violet. And that's only because she's a mom who gave up her day job to stay at home with her child. That's probably the extent of what I had in common with her unless you count the frumpy body that was still hanging around a few years after I gave birth. While I most likely wouldn't want to associate with Violet (or any of them really), they sure do make for some entertaining reading.
I understand that this novel was supposed to show the shallow nature of Los Angeles and its people -- Ms. Semple definitely did a great job of demonstrating that. And I definitely appreciated the satirical nature of the story and her writing; however, I found Violet to be so self-absorbed that I just wanted to shake her. Here she was with loads of money (everything she could ever want in a material sense) and a beautiful little girl, and she still didn't have enough to make her happy. I can understand not necessary being fulfilled with her life, but to take a chance and throw it all away for a strange man (who just happened to be a recovering drug and alcohol addict) was so stupid. And the selfish personalities in this book weren't just limited to Violet because Sally, Violet's sister-in-law, was even worse.
Overall, I found this novel to be both funny and touching at times. I also enjoyed the surprises that the author threw in towards the end of this book. While I wanted to just scream at a few of the characters because they were so shallow, this novel did demonstrate how people who seem to have everything can still be unhappy and desire more from their lives. The book also really showed how much people are willing to risk to find what they think will bring them happiness. It's a very real occurrence in today's society, albeit a very sad one. Fortunately, some of the characters do have a few redeeming moments throughout the book so the reader can't totally hate all of them.
THIS ONE IS MINE is Ms. Semple's first novel, but she is a distinguished television writer. She is a former writer for Arrested Development, Mad About You and Ellen so you can tell that she's got a great sense of humor. There were some very funny parts of this book, and one in particular when David visited a yoga retreat, where I found myself laughing out loud. I could absolutely picture David crawling around in that tent, as well as a few other scenes, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that this novel is being made into a movie.
I can't wait for the BlogTalk Radio show with Maria Semple that's taking place tomorrow (December 17th) at 1:00 p.m. EST hosted by Hachette Book Group USA/Little Brown. Ms. Semple has quite an interesting resume. You can listen to the show live and even call in with your questions. Or, if you aren't available, you can always listen to the taped show here. I've participated in quite a few of these radio shows, and I find myself liking the book even more after hearing the author speak about the book.
THIS ONE IS MINE would make a fabulous book club discussion book; and I would love to hear what my fellow book clubbers thought of this story. This book is being called a modern-day Anna Karenina story so I think it would be interesting to discuss the similarities between the characters. Although this story was larger-than-life, there are so many universal themes to talk about like honesty, marriage, adultery, happiness, ambition, greed, parenting, etc. I was happy to see that there is a terrific reading guide already available.
Does THIS ONE IS MINE sound like something you'd like to read? I just happen to have a copy of this funny novel to share with one lucky reader. Please leave a comment (with your e-mail) after this post for one entry. If you'd like another entry or two, you can blog about this contest with a link back here and/or twitter about it. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only (no P.O. boxes please.) The giveaway will be open until December 30th at 11:59 p.m. EST. Good Luck!