Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman

The Curvy Girls Club
By Michele Gorman
Published by Avon Books UK
ISBN: 978-0007585625

Goodreads description
When the pounds start falling off Katie, founder and president of London's most popular social club for the calorie-challenged, it seems like a dream come true. But as the overweight stigma recedes and her life starts to change, she faces losing more than the inches around her waist. Everything that's important to her - her closest friends, boyfriend, and acceptance into the club itself - are at stake in a world where thin is the new fat.

A funny, heart-warming story about overcoming the prejudices we hold, no matter where we tip the scales.

My verdict
Being no stranger to dieting, I could relate to this group of women who realise that their lives are being consumed by a relentless desire to lose weight, as a means of fitting in with the modern 'skinny' society, rather than having any fun and living life to the full. The book is well written and made me laugh from the start, with its descriptions of the slimming club and its members.

During the course of her book, Michele Gorman covers fad diets, from cabbage soup to Special K cereal, licensed diet aids from pharmacies and illegal diet pills bought online. She isn't afraid to highlight the emotional distress experienced by overweight people: the loss of self-esteem and the social stigma attached to being a plus size figure. I enjoyed it when the tables are turned towards the end, and one overweight character reveals her prejudice of thin people, showing that prejudice can be directed towards anyone if they don't fit the accepted 'norm'.

Many chick lit books can be rather negative about weight, taking the attitude that a character's weight loss during the course of the story is a positive step to finding romance. In The Curvy Girls Club, however, being overweight isn't a barrier to a relationship. Jane has a lovely caring husband, who loves her for who she is, rather than her size, while Katie's romantic interest fancies her before she loses a lot of weight.

It was great to see a focus on a chronic treatable health problem. I rarely see conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes or, in this case, an overactive thyroid discussed in a novel. As a health journalist, I'm a firm believer in raising awareness, and getting people to talk about, these long-term conditions.

Although written as chick lit, The Curvy Girls Club covers a wide range of more serious social and moral topics - domestic abuse, internet drug purchases, sexual discrimination in the workplace and bullying. However, due to the genre of the book, I felt that these are skimmed over and rushed rather than dealt with in any great depth. I also found that the book switches from being a story of celebrating your size, whatever it may be, to one of four friends falling out. The actual outings, which are the whole point of The Curvy Girls Club, seem to disappear from around halfway through the book.

Overall though, this was an enjoyable read tackling some serious social and emotional issues surrounding weight.

I won a copy of The Curvy Girls Club through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

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