This One is Mine

This One is Mine by Maria Semple
This One is Mine by Maria Semple

This One is Mine
By Maria Semple

Published by Little, Brown and Company, December 2008

When it was offered to me for review, it was mentioned that Maria Semple had written for Arrested Development and Mad About You. I loved both those shows, especially Mad About You, so I thought for sure I would love this book. This One is Mine is a very tongue-in-cheek, scabrous and witty look at Hollywood and the people who live there.
Violet Parry has it all; an extremely rich and adoring husband rock-and-roll manager David, an adorable toddler Dot, the perfect house, garden, life…yet she is desperately unhappy. David expects so much of Violet, but rarely gives any of himself in return. A chance encounter with a handsome stranger, Teddy; a sexy, small-time bass player in a Rolling Stones cover band makes Violet feel alive again. Soon, she’s risking everything, and I mean everything, for the chance to live life as she always imagined.

Also involved is David’s scarily uptight and slightly crazy sister Sally. Sally is a neurotic, diabetic ballerina with her eyes set on getting herself a rich husband – before he gets rich. Enter Jeremy, the ESPN super-sportscaster who is well on his way to fame and fortune, who speedily falls into her trap. But all is not happily-ever-after, for either couple. And David and Jeremy have a few surprises in store for Violet and Sally.

It was very well written. I absolute despised the characters, but despite that, I could not put it down. It was like watching a train-wreck, I couldn’t look away! And despite the character’s utter lack of morality and, in some cases, humanity, I actually came to care about what happened to them.

To me, that is the work of a master.

Like I said, I hated the characters. But I was supposed to. There were very few redeeming qualities about them for most of the book. Sally was my least favorite. The only one who seemed to take any responsibilities seriously was David. I had a very hard time coming to terms with these characters and had to think hard about them before I began to understand them, their actions and what the author was going for here. This book was more of a workout than I was expecting. But it was a good workout, one that left me much more appreciative of the book once I finished it.

If you liked Arrested Development, Seinfeld, and Mad About You, you will probably enjoy this book. Semple is a fantastic writer who has a very dry wit. It is hard to make a reader feel sympathy for such rich yet crazy, foolish people, but she managed to make me feel it for these four.

Check out the live interview with Maria Semple on Blog Talk Radio which took place on December 17th! There is also a reading guide available. You can read more about her at her website. 

Over at Estella’s Revenge, we are giving away 5 brand new copies, complete with tattoos!  So go enter today!

9 thoughts on “This One is Mine

  1. Thanks for the review and the heads up about the giveaway!

    You're right that it takes a very talented writer to take unlikeable characters and still make their story sufficiently compelling that a reader will still want to stick with them. It's how I felt about Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections when I first read it.

  2. I generally don't mind hating characters, if that is the point. Two of my favorite books last year, Hunter's Run and The Demolished Man, had very unlikeable protagonists yet I still found myself drawn into their tales.

    I really loved Mad About You. I was thinking not that long ago that it would be fun to Netflix them starting with the beginning. It has been too long since I've seen that show.

  3. Carl beat me to it! I was just going to say the exact same thing about Mad About You. Rod and I loved that show and I'll bet Netflix has it. First gotta get caught up on House, Battlestar and Grey's Anatomy…

  4. I think I'm with Carl — it's okay to hate the characters if there's a purpose, esp. if the writing is great. Too bad I can't enter the Estella giveaway! Excellent review, Heather. And, I'm sorry you're still feeling "Achoo!"

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