Monday, 2 November 2009

BOOK NEWS: Chick lit offers fully rounded heroines for fully rounded women

Chick lit offers fully rounded heroines for fully rounded women

US publishing trend, 'bigger chick lit', booms as women respond to more realistic take on weight

"Chick lit" has relied for years on repetitive plot lines with heroines who agonise about their weight as they swig chardonnay, smoke cigarettes and have sex with their boss.

But the latest publishing phenomenon to sweep America, which has just arrived over here, features a new heroine: the young woman who is seriously overweight – and doesn't care.

"This is a completely new genre of chick lit and it's a breath of fresh air," said Mink Elliott, author of The Pi**ed Off Parents Club, which will be published next month by Little Brown. "These books are spearheading the revolution towards a more realistic perception of real women in easy-reading literature.

"Women are getting sick of the bullshit that has been perpetrated in chick lit until now. Bridget Jones, for all her agonising over her weight, was never heavier than nine-and-a-half stone, whereas the average weight of British women is well over 10 stone.

"This new genre is proof that women are finally learning to love each other and themselves – warts and all. Chick lit is finally holding a real mirror up to its readers, and they can't get enough of it."

A slew of books in which the protagonist is not just "curvy" or "voluptuous" but is actually "fat" are about to hit the bookshops. As well as The Pi**ed Off Parents Club, there is The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens, bestselling author of The Girls, which was the Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year in 2006 and a finalist for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction.

"It's classic wish-fulfilment: readers want to read about women learning to love themselves whatever their weight, because then they don't have to go through that pesky world of dieting themselves. There's a big market of people who want to hear that message," said Julia Llewellyn, author of Love Nest, to be published in February by Penguin, in which one of the central characters is overweight.

"Serious weight issues are a far bigger problem than they were in Bridget Jones's day," she added. "It's the most overwhelming issue in the life of many women. Which is precisely why it's something readers and authors are wanting to explore."

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