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This One Is Mine: A Novel Paperback – March 24, 2010
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"Maria Semple takes on the follies of the posh life in Los Angeles in her sharp, funny first novel....THIS ONE IS MINE is a delight." ―Boston Globe
"A fresh, flamboyantly witty new voice."―Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones's Diary
"Maria Semple writes like a cross between Dorothy Parker and Nathaniel West. This One Is Mine is an uncompromising and trenchantly funny portrait of
"This delightful novel gives pleasure on every page."―Phillip Lopate, author of The Art of the Personal Essay
"Once I started this book, I couldn't put it down. It is funny, carefully observed, beautifully written, very knowing and in general a real treat. Stop wondering which book to buy. Buy this one."―Merrill Markoe, author of Walking in Circles
"Maria Semple's remarkable first novel isn't just a witty, sharp-edged satire about adultery, social climbing, and the absurdities of
"This is a love story with real thorns and a heroine you will weep for."―James Salter, author of Light Years and Last Night
About the Author
Maria Semple has written for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She has escaped from
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Well, I did like it, despite of the tossed like a salad plot and the unnecessary pornographic action (although, really, who was actually shocked in this day and age?). The way Maria Semple approaches people amazes me. No matter how ugly or self-destructive they are, she has this underlying empathy for them, and she makes you love them. The ending was the saddest I've read in quite a while; am I the only one feeling that way? The last sentence is brilliant. I wish the author backed up the main character better to make us see why everyone loved her so much, but nevertheless it floored me, this desperate and pathetic - so much - love.
All in all the book disturbed me, and unnerved me, and made me angry all the time! But isn't that what books do? It can't all be pleasantry. And yes, I did read "Bernadette" before this one and loved it. "Bernadette" is more polished, the plot is rock-solid, the characters are all lovable, even the villains. This one is sadder, uglier and more adult. But it is worth reading. Why does disliking the characters lead to disliking the book, I really don't get. Give it a chance, keep an open mind. If all else fails, you'll be able to say you witnessed the author's growth :) I can't wait for the next one.
AND P.S. - THERE'S A SMALL SPOILER AT THE END OF THIS REVIEW. I WILL NOTE THE SPOILER BEFORE IT COMES, BUT HEADS UP.
This One Is Mine was hard for me to get into. I'd recently read "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" and really liked it, so I chose Ms. Semple's earlier (first) book knowing that I liked her writing style. The thing that I didn't anticipate was how much I was going to dislike all of the characters!
As you will read in other synopses and reviews, the story centers around a group of mostly wealthy (or wanna-be wealthy), healthy, spoiled and fairly bored white people living in LA, whose lives are revolving around the music/sports/entertainment world as the planets revolve around the sun. They have no intelligent reasons to be as bored or mean or self-indulgent as they are, but they have lost perspective and can't seem to see their way clear to behave otherwise.
Thankfully (for the reader), each of the three main characters (David, his wife Violet, and his sister Sally) encounter one or more characters far outside of their normal orbits, and their lives are thrown into varying levels of chaos, which forces each of them to re-evaluate everything they are doing, thinking, feeling....
By the end of the novel, the characters have all grown, lessons learned from their experiences, and they're more likeable. You might actually want to meet them at a dinner party, or be in a reading group with them. And the story does end with some hope that these lives, which had seemed so empty and meaningless before, might be on track to something better in the future.
I found the characters surprisingly complex, not always predictable, but still fairly real. Ms. Semple's writing is fluid, well paced, often humorous (albeit frequently very black or absurd), and easy to read. While not a 'page turner' in the sense of a mystery in which you can't wait to see what happens next, I did find myself compelled to keep reading even after some quite horrible 'scenes' or events, wanting to know how the other characters would react.
In fact, that's it! Probably due to her years spent writing for TV, Ms. Semple has a terrific sense of timing. She knows how to bring a chapter or section of the story to a 'commercial break', allowing you a minute to get a cup of tea, glass of wine, or make a quick phone call, and then bring you back ready for more.
Like 'Bernadette', I enjoyed this novel, often against my will! And in the end, I was cheering for all of the characters and feeling as though, even if I didn't really like them, I at least understood them and could forgive some of their behavior.
Now, the mini SPOILER. STOP READING THIS REVIEW NOW, OR DON'T COMPLAIN TO ME LATER IN YOUR COMMENTS.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the wedding planning leading up to the actual wedding of Sally and Jeremy. It was SOOOOOO Holly-Weird! The wedding planner grovels and drools and poses like a parasitic sycophant, assuring the soon-to-be-rich-and-famous Sally that she is instinctively choosing all of the best and most expensive caterers/decorators/florists/photographers etc. for her upcoming nuptials. Sally basks in the knowledge that her taste is exquisite and totally on trend. But when the wedding day arrives, it's a disaster from the word 'GO!', and you realize that every choice Sally made has been the wrong one, and that the wedding planner is nothing but a greedy hollow suck-up who's probably related to most of the people she's hired for the occasion, AND that she has even more probably pocketed a 75% commission for all of these hires. A minor, but very funny, character.