the good book corner

Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews

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


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.


About artikaaurorabakshi

Artika Aurora Bakshi Artika Aurora Bakshi is the author of three well-acclaimed children’s books,My Little Sikh Handbook, My Little Sikh Handbook 2: Ardas, My Little Sikh Handbook: Travel Journal, and an anthology of stories, Hold On To Me. Her first story, set in Amritsar, during the pre-Partition period, All She Had Left, was published on Story Mirror. She co-manages, a manuscript help and book review site. Her passion for reading has led her to helping other writers with their manuscripts. She comes from a family of lawyers and has a master’s degree in International Banking & Finance. Currently based in Sri Lanka, she teaches Commerce and History on a part-time basis at an international school and enjoys being part of the literary scene in Sri Lanka. A regular at the Galle Literary Festival and other literary events in Sri Lanka, Artika’s articles and book reviews have featured in the Daily Mirror, Daily News, The Ceylon Chronicle, and various blogs, such as,,, She was actively involved with SAARC Women’s Association of Sri Lanka and was President of the Association in 2016. An avid reader, Artika runs an online book club with a membership base of over 600 members. Her quotes are featured under soul.nightingale on Instagram and on Soul Nightingale by Artika Aurora Bakshi on Facebook. Artika is also working on her fourth children’s book in the My Little Sikh Handbook series and a second anthology of stories for adults. You can reach Artika at .

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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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