This is the debut novel of much loved female comedian Dawn French and I approached this book with trepidation – I need not have feared it is every bit marvellous as the title suggests.
The story about the Battle family is split into three members of that family, Mum; Mo, Daughter; Dora and Son; Peter. There is a dad and he has only one chapter throughout the whole novel but he is mentioned in all the other chapters by the members of his family.
We join the family when Mo, approaching fifty with an expanding waistline suddenly reaches crisis point in her life and nothing she can do at home is right for her family, her daughter venomously hates her, her son just thinks she is not in with his ever burgeoning interesting in all things Oscar (Wilde) and her work as a child psychologist suddenly has a new perspective when Noel arrives.
Dora is approaching eighteen and basically thinks that everything in her life is just soooooo not fair. Her boyfriend dumps her on New Years Eve, she has no interest in school, her best friend like forever then goes out with her ex and no one is around for her birthday – it is just like so annoying to have been born in the middle of the summer holidays for god sake, obviously another thing to blame her mum for. Facebook becomes her only friend, and if her mum or more commonly called wonk would let her then she would be on it all the time. However events take a turn and Facebook does not turn out to be a friend.
Peter, sixteen is in love with anything Enchanting as our other members of this exclusive club, smoking jackets, silk slippers, cravats and John Barrowman. Although still at school and quite obviously more academic and at times more mature than his sister he flaunts the rules so he can flaunt the fact he is developing his own personality and finding where his sexuality belongs. Even more so he prefers to be referred to as Oscar than Peter as everything is just so spiffing for one with his mater and pater and his new love which is hedonistic in all its forms.
French has created such wonderful characters and each chapter neatly begins with which member of the family we are hearing from in diary form. Each has their own unique voice, language and spirit and this really comes across on the page, you can just hear Dora talking as the atypical teenager with all the angst as fits the stereotype. Whereas, Peter/Oscar could actually be a 45 year old bachelor when you have to remember he is in fact a 16 year old boy. Mo is the struggling woman trying to be everything to everyone whilst finding herself at a crossroads in her life.
As readers you can relate to traits, family squabbles and modern day threats that appear in this family. This book is not telling us anything astoundingly new – French has picked on something and made it uniquely funny as well as sad all at the same time, a skill in my opinion for an author.
An excellent novel and I hope if Dawn French continues to write such quality, she will have a new burgeoning career. This book should sell in its own right on the strength of the story not by the famous author.
Thank you to Amazon Vine for allowing me to select and review this book – I am so glad I did.
I was very unsure about a ‘famous’ person writing novels, especially when I had read Dawn French’s autobiography ‘Dear Fatty’ which I was not a great fan of. This book more than makes up for it.