Review: Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

24 Aug

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Domestic Violets is a book which is simultaneously very odd and very down to earth.  I can see why people are adding it to their best of 2011 lists.

Summary via

Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.

The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.

Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

When Domestic Violets started off with the main character talking about his erectile dysfunction, I knew this wasn’t going to be like anything else I’d read. It took me a little longer to decide if this was a good thing.

It was, largely because Tom Violet was such a great character– someone that wasn’t at all like me, but who had me very interested in his life none-the-less. I ended up reading it in a single day.

If I didn’t have much in common with Tom, I recognize my world in his.

I loved his skewed view of how to handle office politics. I’d hate to work with him, but I loved to read about his strategies at work, both before and after he makes his big decision there.

On a different note, I really appreciated the handling of the strained relationship between him and his wife. Not that I’d want to be in that relationship, but although the details are different, I recognize the kind of stress that happens in a marriage after some number of years have past.

I even appreciated the handling of the paths that can lead to adultery, even in people who really don’t think it could happen to them.

Tom has an entire network of interesting relationships– with his parents, his wife, his daughter, coworkers and friends.  Each was well written, adding to the picture of Tom as a person.

Beyond work and his relationships, Tom is dealing with the questions that many of us face in middle age: Who am I? Who do I want to be?  There are no easy answers for Tom, but what fun would it be if there were?

In the end, Domestic Violets features a funny guy facing the challenges of modern life, and I’m really glad I saw the world through his eyes for a little while.

Domestic Violets would make a great book club read, particularly for clubs that end up reading a lot of books from a female perspective.

I read Domestic Violets for a TLC Book Tour.  Thank you to TLC and Harper Perennial for providing me with a copy of the book and allowing me to take part in the tour.

TLC Book ToursFor other views of the book, check out the other tour stops:


Posted by on August 24, 2011 in books, reviews, tour


Tags: , , , , ,

9 responses to “Review: Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

  1. Ti

    August 24, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Tom was great. He seemed like a modern “everyman” type guy. It was nice to read a book from a male’s point of view too.

  2. Mary

    August 24, 2011 at 7:46 am

    You read it in a day? I think I’ll buy this to take on vacation next week. It’s been on my list since the reviews started rolling in. Glad to see you liked it!

  3. Pam

    August 24, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I have heard so many good things about this book!

  4. Heather J. @ TLC

    August 25, 2011 at 9:41 am

    “I’d hate to work with him, but I loved to read about his strategies at work” – yeah, I imagine that he’d be a bit of challenge to work with! LOL

    Thanks for being on the tour Laura. I’m glad you ended up enjoying this one even if it got off to a rocky start for you.

    • Laura

      August 25, 2011 at 10:36 am

      You’re welcome, Heather!

      I don’t think the start was so much rocky as bemusing– I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but was definitely interested in finding out more.

  5. BermudaOnion

    August 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    It sounds like this book deserves all the buzz it’s getting. It’s THE book Harper Collins promoted at BEA. I could use a laugh and hope to read it next.


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