A Tiny Bit Marvellous – Dawn French

Before I go any further I should apologise to my mother who bought me ‘A Tiny Bit Marvellous’, which is comedienne Dawn French’s debut novel, last Christmas as it was one of the books of 2010 I most wanted to read, and didn’t. I was desperate to read it back then as it was by Dawn French, who I have always found funny and so had high hopes. She’d written it herself (some don’t let’s be honest) and I hoped it would have all the warmth and humour that her TV shows have had, from The Vicar of Dibley to Murder Most Horrid, over the years. I had also really enjoyed her autobiography when I read it a few years ago, but would her humour tanslate again?

Penguin Books, hardback, 2010, fiction, 432 pages, kindly bought by my mother last Christmas (oops)

‘A Tiny Bit Marvellous’ is really a bit of a family drama. The family in question are the Battle family who consist of Dad, Mum (Mo), Dora, Peter and Poo the dog. Through diary entries from Mo (as she heads for 50), Dora (enduring the tricky teenage times that almost 18 brings) and Peter (who likes to be called Oscar as he believes he is Oscar Wilde) we get a snapshot of family life as the Battle family go into quite a tumultuous time. It’s hard really to say much about a plot other than things happen, some big some small, which ripple through the family and we see from these three characters.

In fact it’s the characters which really are the stars of ‘A Tiny Bit Marvellous’. Mo being rather frank about the fact she feels like an almost fifty year old frump, along with the fact that whilst being a psychologist she has no idea what is going on in her children’s heads. Dora has been freshly dumped and dreams of becoming the next famous sensation on the X Factor rather than having to study or do any work, whilst also having a bit of venom towards her mother who clearly doesn’t understand her. My favourite was Peter, or Oscar, and his hilarious dialect as he goes through life believing he is, or has been channelling, Wilde is absolutely hilarious especially when he becomes smitten with someone. I laughed and laughed. All three of these characters live and breath and with the diary entries showing completely conflicting reactions and readings of situations there’s much humour, and reality, here too. I also found I wanted more of the secondary characters like Mo’s mother Pamela, who was hilarious and who stole scenes here and there, I could have read even more of these people who came and went.

The only things that slightly let the book down a tiny bit for me was the utter focus of the relationship between Mo and Dora, when there were so many more strands I wanted to hear about, I also wondered where Dad (or The Husband) was in all this, he then arrives plays a pivotal role and yet is never really there. I couldn’t work out the reasoning for this, was French trying to say something here or was he just not really at the heart of her story or interest?

Whatever the case with these two glitches they were small niggles because overall I really enjoyed ‘A Tiny Bit Marvellous’ it made me laugh, took me back to the nostalgia of my awkward teenage years and also really surprised me with the ending. I’m hoping that this won’t be the only novel that Dawn French writes because I would welcome reading another.

So which celebrities turned authors have you read which you enjoyed and could actually write? What have your favourite novels with a comedy family feel?


Filed under Dawn French, Penguin Books, Review

13 responses to “A Tiny Bit Marvellous – Dawn French

  1. Pingback: Dawn French – The Savidge Reads Advent Calendar Day 18 | Savidge Reads

  2. Funnily enough, I ummed and aahed about whether or not to buy this book this morning, when in Waterstones doing a spot of Christmas shopping, not having heard of it before. I was undecided then, but on the strength of your review, will get a copy next time I go book buying! Thanks!

    (And Happy Christmas!)

  3. Ruthiella

    I just finished the novella Shopgirl by Steve Martin a few weeks ago. II thought it was a little spare, although it did have some nice moments. I do think he can write and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more from him.

    The only book I can think of with a comedy family feel is the “Family Fang” by Kevin Wilson which I read earlier this year. The humor, however, is pretty dark.

    • AJ

      The film version of Shopgirl with Martin and Claire Danes is lovely — it reminded me — oddly enough — of some of Turgenev’s novels.

      • Ruthiella

        I will have to check out the film. I have heard good things about it. I think I might enjoy it more than I did the book (which is rare, but it happens!).

  4. Loretta

    The book that came to mind was Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher. It is a funny and sad look at addiction and the difficulties of change.

  5. Eva

    I loved Vicar of Dibley too! And her character in Lark Rise to Candleford is wonderful. 🙂 So I’m putting this on my tbr list! I don’t think I’ve ever read ficiton by a celebrity.

  6. gaskella

    Flicking through my lists, Steve Martin’s ‘An Object of Beauty’ was brillant, and I concur with Carrie Fisher. I’ve not read many novels by celebs.

  7. Ann P

    It took me a while to think of any novels by celebrities that I had read – I usually steer clear of anything like that. However, I did read and enjoy All The Nice Girls by Joan Bakewell and will be getting She’s Leaving Home when it comes out in paperback.

  8. I love The Vicar of Dibley and still watch it on dvd every year 🙂 So, I’ll definitely want a copy of this book by Dawn French. Sounds like a good read. As far as a celebrity author, it would have to be Steve Martin. His books are just so good! I absolutely loved An Object of Beauty – which I read at the beginning of this year and encouraged all my friends to pick up and read.

  9. Janet D

    I guess the “family based” work I enjoy most is Alexander McCall Smith’s books.They are great for an easy read after something a bit more taxing.

  10. The only book that I’ve read by a celebrity turned author was ‘The Gun Seller’ by Hugh Laurie, which I picked up hoping it would contain a few laughs; it did (although less than I anticipated) and is a pretty entertaining read.
    As for the family based book, I can’t think of any that I’ve read. I’m sure there are some, but nothing springs to mind. That doesn’t bode well for the family based books I have read, huh?

  11. I loved this book – so funny. I admit to reading books by Isla Fisher when I was a teenager, since then I haven’t really touched them!

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