Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Harper Perennial. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
Matthew Norman and his fabulous Domestic Violets is not new to Beth Fish Reads. You might remember when I first started talking about my book crush last April.
I case you've forgotten the premise, I'll post the publisher's summary before I tell you more about why this novel will make it to your favorite reads of 2011 list.
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.Yes, I can assure you that Tom's adventures will have you laughing and cringing. Everyone—man or woman—will be able to relate to Tom and his family because each character seems so real; it's as if you knew them or had one of two of them in your own family. I particularly love that Tom has a book in manuscript while both his parents have been published, although his mother's collection of short stories has gone out of print.
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 co-worker. 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.
Let me share a short scene with Tom and his mother to give you a sense of Norman's writing style. Here's the setup: Tom has just arrived at his mother's house, and she is working in her garden. The only other thing you need to know is that the book opens with Tom trying to overcome a little problem with ED:
"I like the choice of flowers," I say. "Would a violet by any other name be so . . . purple? Shakespeare wrote that. You can look it up if you'd like."I can't leave Domestic Violets without one last note: I was particularly amused by Tom's life in the corporate world, and I closed the book thankful that I found a way to be my own boss, without having co-workers or endless meetings. I'm so glad I never had to contend with some of Tom's colleagues.
"They're prettier and more vivid in the wild, I suppose, but domestic violets are nice, too. The Greeks believed they symbolized fertility and potency, you know."
As I quietly let the irony of this knee me in the groin a few times, we settle into two of the three wicker chairs.
The reviews for Norman's debut novel have been almost unanimous in their high praise. Take a look at few opinions:
- Amy from House of the Seven Tails says, "This book is smart, extremely funny, well-written with genuine dialogue and seriously flawed, realistic characters who are as charming as they are jerky and easy for me to love."
- Kristen from BookNAround says, "Refreshing, humorous, and appealing, Domestic Violets is a book that shows us our present, sends us up, and delivers the good feeling that is so hard to pull off without being too treacle."
- Zibilee from Raging Bibliomania says, "Matthew Norman gives us Tom Violet in all his goofball glory and takes us on a journey filled with laughter, absurdity and surprising poignancy."
Harper Perennial is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.