This One is Mine is the first novel by Maria Semple, a television writer for Arrested Development and author of the 2012 hit, Where’d You Go, Bernadette. The book tells the story of the lovely Violet Parry, wife of rock-n-roll mega-band manager, David Parry, and mother of toddler, Dot. Violet is smart, talented, and tremendously wealthy. Her husband is kind of mean to her. She has an ESL nanny, a black AmEx card, and inexplicable bouts of overwhelming sadness for people she doesn’t know. And then there’s Sally, David’s thin, beautiful, and bafflingly single younger sister who sets her sights on a soon-to-be sports caster star with an intensity that borders on mania. But rather than degrade into something that reads like a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills episode, Maria Semple handles her characters’ white girl problems with enough sympathy and humor to make them appealing even to those of us who can’t pay our rent.
As the story unfolds the cracks in their seemingly perfect lives widen and characters like Teddy Reyes, a handsome, dangerous, down and out musician and recovering addict begin to seep in. Violet immediately goes into “let me help you” overdrive, and the damage may be enough to destroy her sixteen year marriage. Meanwhile, husband David heads up to the mountains for a weekend long yoga retreat that ends in a cramped, naked, communal prayer session in a make-shift sweat lodge. Will being covered in other people’s sweat and private parts be enough for him to realize the error of this ways? Will it matter?
Semple’s stories focus on strong, brilliant female characters struggling through seemingly perfect lives. She gives us the answer to the question on so many husbands’ minds, “What the h*ll is wrong with you?” And as she answers that question, we just might find out what’s wrong with us too.
Interested in more fiction with strong female leads? Check out Goodnight, Nobody by Jennifer Weiner or Charlotte Bronte’s classic, Jane Eyre. Or laugh at the exploits of a family more dysfunctional than yours with Arrested Development on DVD. These titles are all available at VBPL.