~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.