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.