Fat Chance by Nick Spalding
Recommended reader age: Adult, contains swearing and sex references.
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing 2014
Genre: Comedy fiction
About the author:
Nick Spalding is an English author originally from the Isle of Wight who started writing fiction as a way to counteract his job in media and marketing. Over 2 million copies later it is fair to say he cracked it.
Read more about his books at nickspalding.com
Zoe Milton: Main character and wife of Greg who’s weight gain has impacted her confidence and self esteem.
Greg Milton: Ex rugby player and husband to Zoe. Angry and fed up of weight gain but lacking the catalyst to change.
Elise: Best friend to Zoe and presenter of the local radio station hosting the weight loss competition.
Plot summary, spoiler free I promise:
The novel begins with the story of trying on a too small dress in a department store changing room, hardly the basis for excellent comedy I hear you say, but comedy it is nonetheless. Through Zoe’s talk to her friend Elise we learn all about the upcoming competition, where the couple who collectively lose the most weight can win a whopping £50’000.
After some heavy persuasion from Zoe, and the recounting of an embarrassing incident, Greg agrees to join and their journey away from take-out and TV begins. We follow Greg and Zoe through the weight loss diaries they have to keep as part of the competition, and discover with them the pitfalls of diets, fad exercise machines and how deeply fat-phobia is entrenched in society.
Right from the start this book made me chuckle, by page 3 I had full on belly laughed, no mean feat considering I have been really struggling with depression and low mood recently. The author manages to perfectly capture moments of comedy and has the gift of describing events in a way that makes them hilarious. In short, I loved it!
I also loved how the author handled what can be a sensitive subject. At no point were the characters the punchline of the joke due to their weight, a feat that is difficult to achieve when weight and comedy are the focus of your book! The story was very much a journey of discovery and laughs that happens to have overweight characters, rather than a story where the characters are only there because of their weight as the token fat person so to speak.
The author also manages to perfectly highlight the issues around dieting and exercise in a way that was both hilarious yet thought provoking. Through the main characters he talks about the pitfalls of crash diets, the desire for a “quick fix, easy method” way to exercise, and the financial cost involved that can seriously hinder those in lower income families from being able to lose weight. As a person recovering from both anorexia and bulimia I found none of the content to be triggering. There were no diets I wanted to try, no exercise regime that seemed appealing and no feeling of competition with the characters as they lost weight. This again is something hard to achieve and I cannot praise Nick Spalding enough for managing this.
And along side all the serious points about the diet and exercise industry the author manages to brilliantly weave in hilarious moments, half of my notes while reading were simply “lol” which captures my thoughts exactly but did little to help me write this review… The author just has the gift of making normal moments hilarious, much like that one friend who always manages to make their story 10x funnier than you ever could.
The characters themselves were nothing super out of the ordinary which is exactly the point of this book. They were incredibly easy to visualise and had no defining characteristics which made them an obvious candidate to write a book about. With their normal jobs, usual worries and average personalities it was so easy to slot them into place of someone you probably know in your daily life. I really enjoyed this, they were so relatable simply because they were so ordinary and this really made the book feel accessible. And I would be lying if I said there weren’t some aspects of each that I recognised in myself, mostly the desire to avoid confrontation and eat my feelings instead of standing up for myself.
This novel manages to be a book you can curl up with on a rainy day or take on holiday for a light read. So long as you don’t mind funny looks as you laugh, snort and giggle to yourself on a sun lounger. There is a section regarding caffeine intake that had me laughing so hard I cried, while the dog looked at me strangely and left the room for quieter snoozing spots.
I recommend this book for anyone that is looking for an easy to read book that will make you laugh out loud all the way through.
“Since that day I have seen a more gradual- but permanent- loss of weight over the past 3 months. There have been no yo-yo effect whatsoever. Neither have I suffered from bad breath, runny bowels, acid reflux or extreme lethargy. In fact I’ve never felt better in my life. I am highly f**king annoyed by the entire thing.”
(Swear word censored by me to make this review more PG. The book is full of curse words though, you have been warned)