Book Review: A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French
May 1, 2012 11 Comments
I’ve seen quite a bit of Dawn French on tv, and I love watching her shows. Especially The Vicar of Dibley. I must have seen so many repeats of it, and it never gets boring. So, when someone in my book group suggested this book for the next book group read, I was all for it.
But during and after reading it, I was disappointed. I found the characters too cliché and the story was boring a lot of the time.
A Tiny Bit Marvellous: What it is about
The Battle family consists of Dad, Mo, and two teenagers, Dora, seventeen and in a constant fight with her mother, and Oscar, who has taken the name of his great example, Oscar Wilde, but is really called Peter.
Dora is about to take her exams, but has recently broken up with her boyfriend, her mother doesn’t understand her, and she doesn’t really see any use in studying. Her life is one big misery.
Oscar doesn’t fit in at school, but he has formed his own little clique, called The Enchantings, a group of four or so boys, that sexually lean the same way as he does.
When a new assistant comes to work at Mo’s practice, where she works as a child psychologist, Oscar falls in love. Noel, the new assistant, pursues his mother Mo instead. Some embarrassing moments follow when Oscar declares his love. Mo is tempted to start an affair with Noel, but she knows this is not very sensible.
Dad, whose name we do not find out until the end, is in the background keeping quiet. He becomes a hero when he protects Dora from a dubious guy.
Mo, Dora and Oscar alternately tell their story, with one chapter by Dad towards the end.
A Tiny Bit Marvellous: What I thought
The characters in this book are fun, but rather cliché and I tired of them after a while. For instance, there is Dora who will not see anything good in her mother, who is fighting against everything and everyone, and is the most unreasonable person ever. Teenager, you say? Yes, but hey, even a teenager takes breaks from hating the world every now and then. Dora doesn’t.
What I did like was that Mo, as a child psychologist, found herself to be very good at understanding teenagers and talking to them. However, she also says how she doesn’t seem to get through to Dora at all and doesn’t know how to communicate with her. That these two bits of information are contradictory, she doesn’t seem to notice.
A similar thing: Dora loves talking to her grandma, Pamela, and wishes her own mother (Mo) would respect Pamela more and listen to her wise suggestions. Erm… She doesn’t realise that she is exactly the same with her own mother. Another funny bit, then.
Oscar was an awkward teenager in a totally different way from Dora. He wanted a proper gentleman’s necktie and had himself measured for a suit, then realising that 50 pounds isn’t going to get him a tailored suit. He talks/writes in what he thinks is an Oscar Wilde (old-fashioned upper-class) way, which was funny to start with but I got bored of it soon. Dora uses “like” in every other sentence instead.
Things happen, especially to Dora and Mo, but for a lot of the time, I wasn’t too interested in the story. The ending is good, though.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Number of pages: 424
First published: 2010
Genre: contemporary fiction, humor