19 August 2011

Imprint Friday: Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

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.

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.
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.

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."

"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.
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.

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."
Domestic Violets is an Indie Next Pick for August 2011. To learn more about Matthew Norman, visit his great blog, The Norman Nation, and don't miss his "Dog for Sale" post from last month. Be sure to mark your calendar for the Book Club Girl on Air show featuring Norman; it will air September 8 at 7:00 pm EST. You can follow Norman on Twitter; his handle is @TheNormanNation. Finally, book groups and readers will want to check out the discussion questions, available on the Harper Perennial website.

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.

Domestic Violets at an Indie
Domestic Violets at Powell's
Domestic Violets at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Harper Perennial, September 2011
ISBN-13: 9780062065117


Michelle 8/19/11, 6:52 AM  

I've heard all sorts of raving on this book. I'm glad you've enjoyed it as well!

caite 8/19/11, 8:07 AM  

in my ever shallow way, I will say I think it is a cute cover an a cute title.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) 8/19/11, 8:42 AM  

Oh, I’m reading this for next week. I’ve yet to read a negative review. I’m pumped!

Beth Hoffman 8/19/11, 9:06 AM  

Somehow, someway I need to make time to read this book.

Happy weekend, Candace!

Heather 8/19/11, 9:53 AM  

Gosh, Candace, it feels like it's been awhile since I've seen you so excited about a book! It just makes me want to read it more too. I'm going to get my hands on it, as Beth said, somehow, someway. :)

Dorte H 8/19/11, 10:08 AM  

Being a failure is one thing, but being a failure whose father is a huge success.... ouch!

This one sounds really interesting.

Veens 8/19/11, 10:14 AM  

Wow, this sounds really good. I am adding this to my wishlist and I really liked the quotes as well.

It is really good that you are your own boss, not everyone has the fortune of being that :)

Barbara 8/19/11, 10:49 AM  

I like the conversation with his mother when he has ED. Very funny. I think I'll like this one.

Julie P. 8/19/11, 10:52 AM  

Very excited about this one...

Sandy Nawrot 8/19/11, 12:30 PM  

You are all in an evil conspiracy to make me ignore my responsibilities and read this. Goofy men in crisis pushes my buttons.

Violet 8/20/11, 12:25 AM  

I have been reading a lot of good reviews about this book recently. It has definitely made me curious.

Cass 8/20/11, 2:06 PM  

I've heard nothing but good things about Domestic Violets. excited to check it out.

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 8/20/11, 2:23 PM  

Ok, I'm convinced. I have an audio review copy of this book and it's going on my mp3 player as my next listen.

Jennifer 8/21/11, 4:10 PM  

I love the quote that you shared. Your review has definitely convinced me that this is a book I need to read this year! I love the message that it seems to be trying to send and it sounds really funny!

Andi 8/22/11, 1:21 PM  

I have this one on my Nook from Netgalley if it hasn't expired just yet. Looking forward to it!

Kailana 8/23/11, 10:06 PM  

I just read and reviewed this through NetGalley and I really enjoyed it!

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