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Domestic Violets: A Novel Paperback – August 9, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 372 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Norman controls his complicated story and handles its chaos and plot twists with a steady, funny hand.... this is a thoroughly entertaining, light but thoughtful read.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Domestic Violets is a fast, fun, hilarious read.” (Jessica Anya Blau, critically-acclaimed author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and Drinking Closer to Home)

“Domestic Violets is a wonderfully readable, riotous story... told with humor and surprising intimacy. ” (Susan Richards Shreve, author of A Student of Living Things)

“Reminiscent of Richard Russo’s earlier work, Norman’s refreshingly witty style is perfectly suited to articulating the trials of a middle-aged cynic. Wonderfully fast-paced, hilariously genuine, difficult to put down, Domestic Violets is an ideal first novel.” (Booklist)

“Matthew Norman has written a dastardly fun satire of contemporary domestic life [with} surprising twists on all the old conventions and a fresh perspective on a literary foundation that hearkens back to Philip Roth, John Updike and John Cheever. An astoundingly good read!” (Joshua Gaylord, author of Hummingbirds)

“Norman’s debut novel is funny and incisive, and hard on sacred cows.” (Shelf Awareness)

“so real, so funny” (Susan K. Perry, Ph.D. at Psychology Today)

“Timing, so important in comedy, is also exacting in Mr. Norman’s expert hands...Domestic Violets leaves the reader satisfied by the intriguing plot written in a comic spirit; it also endears the author and hero to the reader for maximum poignancy.” (New York Journal of Books)

“All this misery makes for good comedy … charmingly drawn …” (Washington Post on DOMESTIC VIOLETS)

“Norman’s hilarious debut novel is a tale of a man’s middle-age quest to differentiate himself from his father and decide what’s worth changing and what’s worth keeping in his life.” (Washington Independent Review of Books on DOMESTIC VIOLETS)

From the Back Cover

Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.

The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.

Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 329 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st Paperback Edition edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062065114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062065117
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (372 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Burian-Mohr TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Since there are already 64 reviews here, I won't spend a lot of time synopsizing the book. Tom Violet is a smart-a$$ writer who works in a soul-crushing copywriting job and has just finished his novel. He can't get it up and wants to get it on with a too-young co-worker. His father, famous and about-to-be-Pulitzer-Prize-winnning writer Curtis Violet gets it up with every woman he's ever met. Tom's beautiful wife Anna is about to get it on with a banker who lusted after her at the gym. And Tom and Anna's daughter Allie is smart and cute and funny and draws lopsided pictures that go up on the refrigerator.

Story-wise, that's about all you need to know to get started. BTW... my copy was an uncorrected proof, filled to the bursting point with homonym challenges, so hopefully they caught those before the "real" copy came out. Otherwise you'll be shaking your head.

All that being said, here are the Top Ten Things That are Great About "Domestic Violets"

10. It's funny. Not generally laugh-out-loud funny, but amusing. Tom doesn't take life too seriously. He's glib. He's got a smart mouth. It amused this glib smart-mouth reader a lot.

9. It makes my soul happy to know that you can slave away at your novel for 5 years and you can finish it. There's hope. It also makes my soul happy to think that there's a novelist who is not only great but is recognized in public like a celebrity. Ah, fiction... how I love you.

8. English Lit majors of the world unite. At one point, Tom and Anna (both English Lit majors) are in the kitchen and Tom mentions how his friend is worried. "Is it about the... economy?" Anna asks. The book goes on: Anna is as helpless as I am when it comes to exactly what it is that's put the world in its current state.
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Format: Paperback
Tom's father (Curtis Violet) is an aging womanizer who just won the Pulitzer for a short story collection. Tom's mother (Maryanne) ended her own writing career years earlier, despite publishing an acclaimed book of stories that didn't sell, because she believed there couldn't be two writers in a family. Maryanne is taking a break from Gary, her second husband, having realized that she only married him because he wasn't Curtis. Tom has just finished writing a novel of his own, which his family members lack the time or desire to read.

Tom hates his copywriting job (he doesn't integrate well with coworkers who use words like "leverage" and "facilitate") and seems dead set against career advancement. His domestic life is no more satisfying than his work life. He's plagued by ED and he's "a little bit in love" with a beautiful young coworker named Katie. Although Tom nervously but politely snubs Katie when he runs into her while having dinner with his family at Johnny Rockets, neither his wife (Anna) nor his father believe his assurance that "there's nothing going on," and the snubbing doesn't endear him to Katie. Just as troubling is Tom's growing concern that Anna is involved with another man. In short, Tom feels inadequate: as a husband, as a son, as a father, and as a writer. Tom is unhappy ... until he does something at work that's either daring or stupid (or both) but in any event wickedly funny, an act of defiance that changes the course of his life.

These events probably don't sound terribly amusing, but domestic turmoil has nourished comedy at least since Shakespeare.
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Tom Violet, the narrator and main character in Matthew Norman's first novel, "Domestic Violets", is a troubled man going through some troubled times. It's the fall of 2008 and the novel's backdrop is, of course, the shaky economic times in the US and the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. Tom Violet is the son of Curtis Violet, a Norman Mailer-like literary lion. And like Mailer, Curtis Violet has had a series of wives, each younger than the last, and who maintains a high-living life-style. Tom, his only child, lives life in a much more circumspect manner.

At 35, Tom has a wife he loves but with whom he has a distant relationship. Tom and Anna have moved away from each other and both are fighting, in their own ways, to save their marriage. They have a young daughter, Allie, who is the light of their lives. Tom also has a job-in-a-cog. He's a copywriter for a Washington DC multi-national company and has realised he finds absolutely no satisfaction in his job, other than heckling a fellow employee and having the opportunity to have a crush on a young woman who works for him in a cubicle. And then his father, the famous novelist Curtis Violet is both awarded the Pulitzer Prize and moves out of his house and into Tom and Anna's.

So, okay, here's the thing. Tom Violet can't seem to make heads or tails of his life. Nothing is going right - marriage, fatherhood, son-hood (is that a word?), his work, or his relationships either of his parents or his friends. And things just keep getting worse for Tom. But Tom Violet has a secret; he has written his own novel. He's just beginning to show it to friends and family. Tom's novel plays an important place in author Matthew Norman's novel.
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