Friday, 14 January 2011

A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I am a Dawn French fan. It should come as no surprise then, that I've read her first work of fiction. I'm sceptical about celebs turned novelists. I tend to feel that they don't have enough literary creditability to merit all the fuss that is made about their work (Katie Price is a perfect example). However, as Dawn French has spent years writing scripts and comedy sketches, I've concluded that she has been oozing the creativity needed to write a novel for years, and therefore she doesn't count as a celeb turned novelist in the derogatory sense of the phrase.

A Tiny Bit Marvellous is cleverly dissected in to bitesize chapters, each written in the first person by a member of a fairly average family. There is Mo, the child psychologist mother whose own children are a mystery to her. The children, by the way, are Dora, a seventeen year old with a serious attitude and a foul month, who somehow is also funny, sensitive and child-ish at the same time, and Peter, or Oscar as he prefers to be called. Oscar as in Oscar Wilde, who epitomises British eccentricity. There there is Dad, who is more of a presence than a voice, as he has only one chapter to his name. There's also Poo the dog.

The dramatisation of family life is warm and funny, yet it doesn't lack action. Mo seems to exist a hazy world in which she doesn't realise how much she has until she risks loosing it all. Dora's life is a never-ending whirlwind of drama, from proms to crushes to teenage hormones and school girl arguments. Oscar's character offers a refreshing suggestion of how we should all care less about what people think about us. And Dad, he's exactly what you want a Dad to be, kind, generous and soft, yet also fiercely protective of his brood.

Each paragraph contains the wit and humour associated with Dawn French, but it also has serious notes, and highlights the importance of family life. And just in case you need another reason to read it, at the very back there's Nana P's cake recipes. I'd recommend the beetroot cake.

A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French is published by Michael Joseph (an imprint of Penguin) and is available to buy now.

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