A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French is a book that I managed to finish in just one week. For me that is quite an accolade. I used to read at quite a pace before becoming a wife and mother. Reading was one of those pastimes that got neglected for too many years with me juggling parenting, work, home education and housework. I have put that right but am still much slower at finishing books than I used to be. So you can take it as read (no pun intended!) that if I finish a book in a week it means I love it.
A Tiny Bit Marvellous
I picked up this book at a jumble sale. It appealed to me because it purports to be about a less than perfect family with a intelligent mum at its helm who still struggles to get things right. Mo is 49 which is about my age and clearly experiencing all those things that turn up as we face what used to be known as the change of life. She has two teenagers and a husband to manage along with trying to write a book and to do a decent job as a child psychologist. So a bright woman who despite herself does not get much right a lot of the time and then beats herself up for mucking up. Wow – this sounds very familiar!
Structure of the book
I loved how the chapters were short and sweet. Each one shows us the thoughts and feelings of Mo, her daughter Dora, her son Peter or her husband Den. The vast majority of the chapters are told from the point of view of Mo or her children. There are also some scrumptious cake recipes at the end of the book which is quite a bonus!
I could empathise with Mo trying to juggle it all and to work out to what extent her teenagers still needed her support. With one son aged 18 overseas and two other teenagers aged 13 and 15, I really do know how complex it can be to let them go and carry them when they need you to. Mo is feeling her age so when an apparent knight in shining armour turns up with the promise of romance she is tempted. I can empathise with that one too!
Dora is 17 years of age and so fragile and insecure. Like many teenagers although not my own daughter, she expresses this by using foul language and lashing out. She has her heart broken a little and then feels let down by her best friend. She has dreams of her own and clearly feels unsupported. In reality, she is very much loved and eventually comes to realise that when online behaviours threaten to get her in very deep water indeed.
Peter is Mo’s teenage son and an absolute riot. He channels his inner Oscar Wilde with flamboyant outfits and flowery language. I enjoyed Peter’s chapters most of all as he despairs of members of his family and experiments with his sexuality.
My other favourite character was Grandma Pamela who the member of the family seek emotional back-up and cake from when it all gets too much. Pamela has clearly seen life, worn the T-shirt and gives out sage counsel.
I think the plot is really about individual members of families living in their own silos. I think so many do this partly due to the business and pressures of working life. Online activities also play their part these day in separating families. Some separation has to happen as we let our children fly the nest even when they are in it for now. Parents too are entitled to have their own lives a little more as children grow. Getting the balance is challenging and through a series of accidents this family reminds itself that it is a good and loving one.
There is a plot twist at the end that I did not see coming and that I definitely believe to be a tiny bit marvellous.
Would you like to read A Tiny Bit Marvellous?