Friday, May 28, 2010

This One is Mine

"Tuesdays in Los Angeles made Violet sad. It always caught her by surprise, the sadness, like today, as she was driving, safe and alone in her car after another revolting morning with David. Then she'd see the open-house signs and would remember: Tuesday, open-house day."
~This One is Mine, Maria Semple

Maria Semple, a former TV writer for shows such as Saturday Night Live, Mad About You, Ellen, and Arrested Development, is the author of the novel This One is Mine, published in 2008, a sharp, tragicomical depiction of the lifestyle and culture of Los Angeles, complete with cameos by Adam Sandler and other celebrities. This One is Mine is the story of Violet, her husband, David, her sister-in-law, Sally--and Teddy. David, a successful music executive, is having a hard time understanding and living with his wife, who has become distraught and distant. Sally, David's sister, is a former ballerina determined to find a rich man to marry. She sets her sights on Jeremy White, who may be socially awkward but otherwise fits the bill. Violet, on the other hand, seeks escape from her marriage, and although she loves her very young daughter, Dot, she's uncertain in her new role as a stay-at-home mother. She feels out of shape physically and emotionally. In this state she finds herself attracted to an unlikely candidate, ex-junkie Teddy Reyes, a bass player who is barely able to make ends meet. Although Violet is rich and pampered, money doesn't buy happiness, and she is miserable in her marriage. Teddy is somehow thrilling to her, and after sixteen years of marriage, she feels a spark and is drawn to the bassist.

Gradually and skillfully, the author reveals more about the main characters, who seem shallow and self-absorbed initially, and I could understand them better. Full of humor, the novel pokes fun at many things, including New Age parenting techniques and "sweat lodges". I raced through this book and it held my attention from the first page until the last, although I found the vulgar language and graphic sex disturbing (at times I even wondered if I were reading a pornographic novel). I understand that the foul language was supposed to be shocking, was intended to show what a "dirty" mouth Teddy has, how unsuitable he really is for Violet, but after a certain point it seemed superfluous, and detracted from the book for me. Although the language fit the character, I thought it was taken to an extreme and that it should have been lessened--a little bit would have been enough.

Special thanks to Gigi for sending me this book.


  1. I've seen this one around Susan. A possobilty for my summer list, I've been building; thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Now following you - great to get connected through the hop!!

  3. Sounds nice, but not so much for dirty talk either and the rest

  4. I saw this one last time I visited the bookstore. It does sound interesting. The plot sounds good. I think the language would bother me though.

  5. Thanks for visiting me! I'm following you, now. :)

  6. this sounds like a very interesting book

  7. I love the cover of this book and the plot seems very interesting. Thanks for the thoughtful review!

  8. I have been interested in this book for the past couple of weeks. Though it's not the type of book I usually read, something about it really captures my interest and makes me want to grab a copy. I am glad that you ultimately liked it, though I might have some issues with the graphic language and sex scenes as well. Great review, Suko! Very thorough and well written!!

  9. I wondered if Semple, with Teddy, was trying to make the reader feel like we were being biased; making us look down our noses at him that criticizing us for looking down at people that have problems. I got her point--I just thought she made him so repulsive that I couldn't imagine anyone of any class being attracted to him.

  10. sounds like an interesting read!! thanks for the great review!!

  11. i received the book from brian cohen. thanks to you, once again!

  12. Priya, that was so fast! Thanks for letting me know. :)

    Thanks to all for taking the time to comment. More comments welcomed.

  13. Aww man this sounds like an interesting topic but I don't really like to read books with a lot of language or sex either. Thank you fo sharing your thoughts! :-)

    XOXO~ Renee

  14. I enjoyed this book too, especially after listening to an interview of the author. It's hard for me to comprehend living like the characters in this book did.


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