Neither Violet Parry nor her husband, David, grew up with money or comfort. Neither could have imagined that they'd be living in luxury in Hollywood Hills with a gardener, pool boy, and nanny. Sally Parry, David's sister, has always felt like an outsider and has always wanted to be rich and loved.
Sally and Violet seem to be on inversely related paths. The richer and happier Violet is, the more in debt and more alone Sally becomes. Then one day their fates seem to reverse. Sally meets Jeremy, an up-and-coming sports commentator, and Violet meets Teddy, an ex-junkie, down-and-out bass player.
Both women seem to be out of control on their crazy pursuit of what they are sure will make them happy. Just when Sally knows she has everything she has ever dreamed of, all their lives begin to change forever, but not according to plan.
The convergence of Hollywood's rich and famous, hot new properties, wannabes, and never-will-bes is at the heart of Semple's debut novel. This is not just another book about a rich woman feeling unfulfilled or a gold-digger thinking she's finally found the bank. Violet and Sally make choices that most of us would question, but it's where those choices take them that drives the story.
Through humor and a unabashed take on LA life, Semple explores how even the clueless can reach the place where they want what they have, keep what they love, and accept who they are. Throughout the book, we are treated to a fabulous cast of characters, who seem to rise just enough above stereotype to be believable but close enough to the line to let us laugh along with them.
The double-sided look into the interactions among the characters, whether within the same economic class or between classes, was a treat. Few people see themselves as others do, and in the often-shallow relationships of the Hollywood crowd, the discrepancy can be amusing.
This One Is Mine was a bit of slow start for me because I was sure I knew where Violet and Sally were headed. But the women's stories and those of the people who surround them are more complex than expected. The characters were motivated by deeper issues than simple instant gratification, and their growth and self-realizations led to a satisfying end.
Maria Semple has a website, where you can learn more about the book and the author. I especially like the photos and other graphics found there.
Published by Little, Brown, 2008
Challenges: New Author, 999, 100+