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A Tiny Bit of Marvellous by Dawn French, reviewed by Reshma Kothare

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There was something about the book cover that made my hand reach for it and comments like “Extremely funny” and “Fantastic slam-dunk page-turner” sealed the deal for me. This book would be my companion for the next few days, I decided. And it did not disappoint even a bit.

The story has Mo, a mom and a therapist for teenagers who has trouble understanding the behaviour of her teenage kids at home. Her degree is so not helping with her own kids that she is frustrated writing a book on the topic that she was supposed to be an expert at. On the other hand there is a mid life crisis. The drudgery of “a same old life” drives her into another direction, a risqué one at that.

Dora is Mo’s soon-to-be eighteen-daughter. She has crises of her own: dumped by her puny boyfriend, ex boyfriend stolen by best friend, a dilemma between becoming a singing sensation and obtaining a degree in Food Technology. There is a self-image issue to complicate her life further. Being on the heavier side she needs to lose a bit of weight. She finds the perfect diet…White foods only. Bingeing on breads, pastas, white candy floss, marshmallows etc. Dora is keen to get in shape for her eighteenth birthday. She firmly believes Mom is the reason for all her problems; Mom is always trying to butt into her life (packing her off to see nurse about contraception) or Mom is never around when she needs her (shoulder to cry on absent in a boyfriend emergency). Dora talks only in monosyllables or grunts at home but has no qualms befriending strangers on Facebook.

Then there is Oscar whose real name is Peter. He adores Oscar Wilde and styles himself after the Dickensian author in manner and speech. He crushes after Mo’s psychiatry assistant Noel from New Zealand. Oscar is sixteen and hopes to impress the love of his life by wearing white linen shirts with ruffles in front and yellow checked slacks and a poem inspired by Keats on his lips. Oscar believes he has “Noelitis” and pledges his love to his “New Zealand honeybaby” to be unceremoniously rejected. He does find true love in a fellow ninth grader on whom Oscar’s quaint charms work like magic.

Dad hardly has a voice among the busy Battle family. He is just Dad who works behind the scene, keeping everyone safe and happy.

There is also Nana Pamela whom each of the Battles runs to, to be comforted. She knows each one inside out, after all she is Nana. Over slices of cake each Battle pours his heart out to Pamela. She has seen so much of life that she has pearls of wisdom for troubled souls, every one of them. And she bakes them cake. Each has a favourite too.

Funny they said and you have it in bucketfuls. Dawn French writes in three different voices for the main characters in the story; in that each one tells his story from an individual’s point of view like an entry in a diary. She explores the turmoil that plagues this seemingly normal Battle family and renders it quite relatable. The mother daughter relationship issues, Mo-Dora and Pamela-Mo deftly dealt with, you find very heart-warming. Truly an enjoyable read.

P S: Recipes of Pamela’s unique cakes are given at the back for the foodie in u to take pleasure in. Does beetroot cake or whiskey cake whet your appetite?

Reshma3 Reshma Kothare is a Nutritionist by profession who practised dietetics at a leading hospital in Mumbai. With a job change for the husband and a baby in her lap, she found herself transferred to a magical island that gave her a chance to discover her other talents. A foodie by nature, she took up cooking and food blogging.  An avid reader all her life, she fancies herself a small time writer. Bird watching, exploring new places, movies and dreaming are some of the other things she enjoys.

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This entry was posted on February 12, 2016 by in Book Reviews, Fiction, Guest Reviewers and tagged , , .
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