THIS ONE IS MINE
BY MARIA SEMPLE
Perhaps I shouldn’t have read this after Hemingway. Perhaps it is just unbelievable that this was written by the author of the best-selling, prize-winning masterpiece Where’d you go Bernadette?
This is Maria Semple’s debut and a true disappointment for me. As I said, I loved Bernadette. That was a clever, highly original, brilliantly funny and engaging story. In comparison this is really trashy. I’m so glad I read Bernadette first!
This One Is Mine is the story of Violet Parry and her beautiful Hollywood home, perfect baby and successful band manager husband, David. It’s also the story of her sexual obsession with former addict, Teddy Reyes. As Violet pursues him, her life spirals out of control and the effects of her behaviour run deep through the family. It’s about the absurd LA lifestyle, social climbing and adultery. Unfortunately, it read for me as shallow as that probably all sounds to you.
The characters – Violet, David, Sally and Teddy are not just flawed, they’re so awful and self-obsessed that I found that I couldn’t care less what happened to them.
The constant brand name-dropping throughout also grated; “Today she wore a Dolce and Gabana silk shirt, True Religion jeans and Hogan shoes. Sally would have looked totally hot in that shirt.” I understand the context, they are materialistic designer clobber obsessed idiots but still it was very irksome to read and lead to me starting to skim read the book which I absolutely never do.
The awfulness was at its height with David nicknaming Violet “Ultraviolet” then just “Ultra” then the nauseating “UVA” or “UVB” depending on whether he deemed her to be bringing her “A game” or not. Again, I understand this is a demonstration of his controlling behaviour towards his wife but the other characters are cut from the same cloth and no light or shade exists. As a reader I want good guys and bad guys, I want someone to root and hope for.
So it was all yoga retreats, thin waists and TV writers. It read like a bad sitcom on one those satellite channels you didn’t even know were there. But I do have high hopes, Maria wrote for great shows like Arrested Development and her follow up to this was one of the best books I’ve read in recent years.
SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING: 2/10
- Maria Semple’s father created the 1960s TV series ‘Batman’ – which I absolutely love!
- Reading Anna Karenina was her inspiration for this book – really?!
- Her first job in TV writing was on Beverley Hills 90210