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22 May 2010

Book Review: This One Is Mine by Maria Semple


Title: This One Is Mine
Author: Maria Semple
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2010
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN: 978-0316031332
Genre: Fiction

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From the Publisher:

Violet Parry is living the quintessential life of luxury in the Hollywood Hills with David, her rock-and-roll manager husband, and her darling toddler, Dot. She has the perfect life--except that she's deeply unhappy. David expects the world of Violet but gives little of himself in return. When she meets Teddy, a roguish small-time bass player, Violet comes alive, and soon she's risking everything for the chance to find herself again. Also in the picture are David's hilariously high-strung sister, Sally, on the prowl for a successful husband, and Jeremy, the ESPN sportscaster savant who falls into her trap. For all their recklessness, Violet and Sally will discover that David and Jeremy have a few surprises of their own. THIS ONE IS MINE is a compassionate and wickedly funny satire about our need for more--and the often disastrous choices we make in the name of happiness.

My Review:

Well-written, descriptive with witty narrative This One Is Mine by Maria Semple has an interesting premise; two unhappy women looking for happiness, one longing for what the other has. Violet Grace Perry seemingly has a wonderful life and yet she is tragically unhappy, refers to mornings with her husband David as "revolting", wonders about the "indignities" forced on 50-year-old women who are single and work such jobs as selling real estate and believes motherhood, no matter how much a mother loves her child, is not only "boring" but "draining". Unfortunately, Violet neither grew on me nor became more likeable with time. Will her affair with Teddy Reyes, a bass player and recovering alcoholic be the answer she is looking for? Sally, the younger sister of Violet's husband David, recently turned 36 and believes she is absolutely stunning and further believes her best friend Maryam would flounder without her help and guidance as the "pretty one" in the friendship. Sally's goal is to hook up with a wealthy man, ideally the soon to be TV star named Jeremy White, and live a fairy tale life. Sally wants what Violet has, yet the grass is rarely greener on the other side. The parallel stories and exploits may be delightful for others to read, unfortunately I did not find them to be witty or interesting but rather superficial and I tired rather quickly of the descriptive sexual escapades. With that stated, Maria Semple's novel is well written and executed, her characters are developed and the story moves at a fast clip. Just because the genre was not for me is not at all indicative of the author's ability. Several times I saw references to similarities between This One Is Mine and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, which happens to be my all-time favourite novel and the comparison threw me, certainly the wealth, power, and unhappiness, yet there are a lot of novels like that and I do not place these two books in the same category. I am curious if anyone saw similarities between Tolstoy's classic novel and This One Is Mine, and if so, what? While this novel was not to my liking, I strongly suggest reading other reviews before making a decision on this book. I do believe This One Is Mine would not only make an excellent book discussion group pick but would also create quite lively discussions.

About the Author:

Maria Semple has written for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She has escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family on an island off Seattle. This is her first novel.

I received a complimentary copy of This One Is Mine by Maria Semple from a publicist for the author. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.

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5 comments:

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Good review, Jennifer, and no, I didn't see any similarities to Anna Karenina!

Violet and Sally were both typical of people I've known who live in LA...a superficial place, if ever there was one!

One of my sons lives there, but he is a "transplanted" Angeleno, and doesn't bear any of those traits! Some of his friends who grew up there could have been clones of Violet and Sally.

Aths said...

I have this book to review as well, but am not sure when I will get to it. I haven't exactly read many raving reviews.

Andrea Proulx said...

I have a lot of issues with reading books about infidelity something about them just skeeves me out. Your review was great but this won't be a book I'm picking up.

Jennifer-Eighty MPH Mom said...

Hmmm - thank you for your honest review. I dislike when I can't relate with the main character.

stacybuckeye said...

I liked this one better than you, but agree the characters were difficult to relate to.