The struggle with enjoying a newer book by an established author, and then going back to their previous works, is your expectations for their debut are high. Halfway through This One is Mine I double checked that this Maria Semple was the same Maria Semple who wrote Where’d You Go, Bernadette. She is.
This One is Mine tells the overlapping stories of Violet Parry, her husband David and his sister Sally during a tumultuous time in their lives. David is a multimillionaire record executive and Violet had a successful career as a TV writer before giving it up to start a family and renovate a new home. She’s become disenchanted with her life and finds herself obsessing over a recovering alcoholic bass player named Teddy. It’s hard to like Violet throughout most of the novel because of this obsession, especially since it seems so unwarranted.
Sally, David’s sister, was an aspiring ballerina whose career was ruined when she lost a toe to diabetes; she has spent her adulthood striving to find a husband. She gets her clutches on up and coming sports analyst, Jeremy, but he falls short of her fantasy. She is somehow more irritating than Violet.
There are a lot of convenient plot lines you can see from a mile away, most of which are infuriating, that make everyone involved unbelievable and unlikable. I hope Semple’s future works are more Bernadette and less This One is Mine.