by Michele Gorman – Finally, a chick-lit book wherein none of the main characters is a model-thin twenty-something beauty in a high-power job, with designer clothing and a life the rest of us peons couldn’t possibly relate to.
The main characters in this funny, poignant, irreverent novel echo the majority of women in England (and the U.S.) in that they are struggling with their weight, their relationships, their jobs and their self-esteem. They are friends who vow to stick together through thick and thin, although that last bit gets put to the test near the end of the book.
I really liked Katie, the point-of-view character, who is a founder and president of the titular Curvy Girls Club. She’s smart and charming, capable and loyal, but she has a big problem. And no, that’s not a pun about her weight. In fact, Katie’s problem is quite the opposite: she begins losing weight unexpectedly, despite an increased appetite, and she starts having heart palpitations and heavy perspiration that disrupt her life. She begins to worry that she has a serious medical problem, but once she learns that her biggest fear is unfounded, she’s quite happy with her new size. Forty pounds lost in only a few months has made a big difference in her appearance, and it’s not all for the better.
In fact, her smaller size costs her a gig on national TV, a potential boyfriend, her position in the club, and one of her dear friends. Oh, and did I mention that she’s been laid off (made redundant), too?
The central theme of the novel is sizeism. It’s a nasty “ism” that affects the lives of the majority of us and of our characters, as we and they are judged and found wanting because of a failure to fit society’s idea of an acceptable size. And Katie discovers that the prejudice doesn’t just run one way.
My only quibble: I had trouble believing Katie wouldn’t have expected the loss of the TV job, as she was told (and signed a contract that stipulated) that she wasn’t to lose or gain any weight before the taping of the show. As she did, in fact, lose quite a lot of it, she shouldn’t have felt blindsided.
Overall, this is a great read. I recommend it highly, and I look forward to the day when a novel can include characters of all sizes without that topic having to be a major focus of the story, when that detail is merely that: a detail, no more (ahem) weighty than eye color or height. (finished 5/6/14)
Note: I received an advance copy of this novel for review purposes.