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A Tiny Bit Marvellous

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  10,208 ratings  ·  1,207 reviews
This is a poignant novel by Dawn French which is told through the eyes of a mother and her two teenage children. Each chapter is narrated by a different voice, telling the story of a modern family, all living in their own separate bubbles, lurching towards meltdown.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 23rd 2010 by Michael Joseph (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.24  · 
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 ·  10,208 ratings  ·  1,207 reviews

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Megan Baxter
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
English family life in the key of shrill.


This book seems to take as its premise that not only are teenagers constantly (and I mean constantly) at a fever pitch of screaming and hating their parents, but also that that emotional lability (screw you, Goodreads, that is too a word) and immaturity and utter lack of self-awareness continues through everyone's entire lives.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I
Katie Lumsden
Aug 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable novel - fun, witty and entertaining. I thought some of the teenage voices were a tad too much but in general it was a great read.
May 30, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I still don't understand how a book can be a 'No1 Besteller' before it has even been published and placed on shelves. There are so many No1 Bestsellers that you would thing people would call it a draw. In any case, I have not clue as to why this book managed to become one of the 'No1's'. It is ridiculous. At first I assumed that it was just hard to get into, like some books are. But there was nothing to 'get into'. I didn't manage to read the whole thing, because I just couldn't cope with the ex ...more
Mar 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
Like, an enormous bit dreadful, like.
Huw Rhys
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Dawn French is one of the very best TV Comedy writers of her generation. I love her TV work to bits. But sadly, transferring her skills to this format just doesn't work.

This is the story of...what exactly? Nothing much happens for the first two thirds of the book - mum goes through a mid life crisis, whilst her 18 year old daughter and 16 year old son try to share their growing up experiences with us. And although the book livened up ever so slightly in the final third, nothing changed much.

Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a big fan of Dawn French, I wanted to see if her writing was as good as her performances, and in many ways I wasn't disappointed. The story follows certain events in the lives of Mo, who is about to turn 50 and hovering on the edge of an extra-marital affair with a younger man. Her husband whose inner self we see little of as, well he's just 'Dad', then there is Dora, a foul mouthed, self-obsessed seventeen-going-on-thirty-year-old and her divinely camp-over-the-top brother with a kind heart ...more
Eddie Owens
Jul 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simon Howard
Mar 30, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is a terrible match for me. It's squarely and unashamedly aimed at middle aged women, it's full of stereotyped characters and irritating text-speak, has a plot that's largely predictable from the blurb alone, and a "twist" that's both obvious and pointless.

And yet... I found it really quite endearing. It's a novel of the "mental chewing gum" variety - no thought required - but it's a pretty good example of that kind of book. It has genuine humour and genuine warmth. While the characte
Simon Lipson
I've loved Dawn French the writer/performer for 30 years, but Dawn French the novelist is just ghastly, if this is anything to go by. A family of non-dimensional characters spouting about their boring, middle-class lives with nary a sentence that isn't boiling with cliches. I ran out of patience very early, I must confess, I think after I'd read the third chapter in the voice of the vacuous teenage daughter. Yes, we know teenage girls overuse 'like' and we've seen shallowness and mother-hating ( ...more
Jennifer Rayment
Dec 10, 2010 rated it liked it
The Good Stuff

Bloody hilarious and witty at times. You gotta love the English, they have such a way with words
Oscar and Pam were my favorite characters. Would have liked to have some of book written from Pam's voice
Some lovely wise and very real moments about living with ones family
The sheer audacity of Mo's inner dialogue is wonderful
Made me LMAO on many occasions -- note to self mus learn to stop snorting out loud in public places -- people tend to stare
The scene between Dora and her grandma P
Mar 20, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I didn't even finish this book. So it might bet better towards the end, but I skipped ahead quite a bit to see if it improves, and it doesn't. So. The book is written entirely in first person, and each chapter is titled after the name and age of the person narrating. That'd be fine, if everyone in it wasn't a giant prat. The daughter swears every other word, hates her mother, and in general is just a chav. The son has an ego bigger than necessary. The mom thinks she's better tha ...more
Shirley Schwartz
Nov 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
I had to read this book in order to review it for a publisher, but I couldn't finish it. I got within 100 pages of the end and I had to shut it and put it out of my mind.
I am not usually interested in books in the comedy genre, although I do enjoy human interest stories. Well this book was far from human interest. i couldn't stand the people and please-Dora is almost 18? She acts more like 12. I'm all for showing human foibles and family missteps, but this book went far beyond what I sincerely
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
Man I love Dawn French but I lost interest in this so fast and had to force myself to finish it. This just wasn’t for me, un-relatable characters and annoying ones. Her writing just didn’t gel with me. I’m so upset about it. 2 stars. 🌟🌟
Amy Jones
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was about 50 pages in, I hated this book.

It's written in a diary style, from the point of view of (mainly) three characters. There's Mo, the tired child psychiatrist mother, Dora, the Facebook obsessed 17 year old, and Peter, the precocious 16 year old obsessed with Oscar Wilde.

The reason I hated the book was the "voice" of Dora. Just a small example, near the beginning of the book Dora writes:

"I can't believe I actually went out with him, how embarrassing. On top of it all, he is so ran
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book for £3.99 on my Kindle.

I love Dawn French anyway and had heard the great reviews, so I just knew I was going to love it, and I did. I devoured it in 2 days, could not put it down.
It is done in the style of a diary entry type book, but with no dates, just different chapters for each member of the household. Mo is a mother of 2, wife and child psychologist who is struggling with her own issues and errant teenagers!

Dora is a struggling teenager with the typical body issues and fe
Oct 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
Completely unrealistic. Irritating, clichéd characters and narrative voices. Ridiculous situations. And it is not even remotely funny. I may have smiled once or twice, possibly, against my will. The teenage daughter is written in Vicky Pollard's voice and is tediously hateful and self-loathing. The son is tiresomely, unconvincingly verbose and obnoxious. The mother is an idiot. The plot makes little sense when subjected to any scrutiny and there are deeply dubious actions and attitudes which we ...more
Lisa Bennett
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I bought this book because it's by Dawn French, whom I love, and the title made it sound like it could well be a tiny bit marvellous.

However, it was a very bit boring!

The mum ws ok, the daughter was funny at times, the son drove me mad and bored me to tears. The story was dull and I just couldn't get into it. The only good bit was the ending, because A) it was the ending, and B) because of the twist, which after such a boring read, was totally so like unpredictable.

One for the charity shop.

Jan 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
I felt this book didn't have much depth to it. The characters were bland, uninteresting and weren't explored enough making it difficult to empathize with any of them.
The storyline was in complete disarray; the storyline leading up to the 'climatic' moments were not introduced into the novel until past midway. So what was the point of the first half of the novel? I asked myself that same question as I was reading it.
I felt completely agitated whilst reading the excerpts from Dora. Yes Dawn French
Nov 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can read the review here: ...more
May 22, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was rather disappointing! I had high expectations, as I find Dawn French entertaining, however it fell flat on a few different levels. My biggest gripe was how utterly exaggerated the teens were…. One dimensional, Dora always angry, swearing , shouting and screaming at Mum, Oscar, slightly better but still…. A pity as these kind of family stories can often be amusing, sadly this wasn’t for me.
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book to take with me on holiday for the simple reasons that I wanted something light and humerous to read and that as a fan of Dawn French's comedic talent I was interested to see if this would extend to her writing. I am very pleased to say that the answer is yes! The novel follows the lives of a modern family; Mo who is about to turn 50; her husband, who as far as I can recall is just refered to by the other characters as Husband or Dad, so we never learn his name; daughter,Dora w ...more
Nikki Bywater
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Mo Battle is about to turn the big 50 and she is having a mid-life panic. She is fed up with her life that is the same, day in day out, she is a wife and mother to two teenagers, Dora who is seventeen and has self-esteem problems and holds her mum responsible for everything going wrong in her life and Peter who truly believes he is Oscar Wilde, his hero. Mo’s husband is not saying much and is keeping very quiet.

Mo is prepared to do something completely different to bring change to her dull life
Ellen Fredriksson
Definitely my new favourite book! I loved it! Dawn French is not only brilliant comedian but also a marvellous author! What an intense book, with infuriating characters that I though I could never love until I did! I cannot recommend this book enough!!
Glynis Elliott
Dec 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
Not impressed so far.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
Didn't finish it . Would not recommend ...more
Nov 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Although I've left Israel, I hope to continue participating as a member of my beloved Jerusalem-based book club thanks to the blessings of technology. Only one of them is on goodreads so Randi, if you're reading this, I'll try to be a little nicer in the meeting but here I'm going to be brutally honest. This book was crap.

The story is about a family -- Dad, who remains voiceless and nameless until the final scenes, Mom/Mo, a surprisingly uninsightful child psychologist, Dora, her 17-year-old dit
Megan Ruddy
Jun 25, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've never been absolutely crazy about French but I didn't dislike her enough to be put off by the fact that she'd written this book. Thinking it looked like something I'd like, I picked it up for a couple of pennies at a carboot sale and started to read it almost straight away.
I can't explain how disappointed with it I am. I must admit, I never actually finished this book. After 200 odd pages, I just couldn't face the last 100 or so. There was very little that had happened and as far as being
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Story about a child psychologist just turning 50 – the book is told in alternating first person (almost diary style) chapters written by her, her 18 year old girl Dora who writes in like totally clichéd teenage style and abbreviations and seems to have the innocence and intelligence levels of a not very educated 1 year old, and her 15 year old son Peter – who styles himself Oscar after Oscar Wilde (whose vocabulary he appropriates – for example “pater”) highly intelligent with every world crafte ...more
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: trashy-chick-lit
A so-so read. Some parts resonated with me, others grated on me. It wasn't a particularly amusing read and sadly quite predictable but it was good airport fodder on a longish transit wait if you don't mind a 'car crash waiting to happen' kind of plot. Sorry Dawn, I love your work but this just didn't do it for me. ...more
Vidhi Shah
Sep 10, 2021 rated it liked it
I thought I was going to hate this book.. But no.. It felt like light fuzzy read with typical british dysfunctional family.. I enjoyed Dora's character and narrative best.. I won't say it can be no 1 best seller but it is really funny page turner.. 😃 ...more
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Dawn Roma French is a British actress, writer and comedian. In her career spanning three decades, she has been nominated for six BAFTA Awards and also won a Fellowship BAFTA along with her best friend Jennifer Saunders. She is best-known for starring in and writing her comedy sketch show, French and Saunders, alongside her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, and for playing the lead role of Geraldin ...more

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