Fabulous Fat Friendly Fiction

Published February 25, 2010 by sleepydumpling

Y’all know I’m a librarian right?

Well, if you didn’t, you do now.  Which means I love to read.  But all my life I’ve read books where the heroine was some impossible ideal woman – ie… thin.  So I’ve always been on the hunt for a good novel with a fabulous fat female as the central character.

A few years ago, pre-fat acceptance days for me and back when I had crappy self esteem, a friend recommended Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman series to me, and I read the first three straight away.  I loved them to bits.  I kind of forgot them for awhile, but recently while browsing a bookstore I came across the first in the series, Earthly Delights, and decided to buy it for my permanent collection.

Earthly Delights

I read it again last week and it was with fresh eyes, as life has changed in many ways for me.  I came to realise just how a) ahead of her time Kerry Greenwood is in writing a fabulous fat heroine and b) just how much wisdom this book imparts.  I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Let me tell you a little about Corinna Chapman.  She’s a successful businesswoman who owns and runs a bakery in central Melbourne.  She has a wicked sense of humour, lots of friends, sexy, lives in a gorgeous apartment, is a well-liked employer, is intelligent, takes no shit from anybody and has a boyfriend who I would wager is the hottest man in fiction.  Oh, and she’s fat.  Not just a bit chubby, a size 12 or 14, but pure plus sized big girl fat.  And she’s gorgeous.

And the descriptions of the delights she bakes in her bakery are breathtaking.  There are even recipes at the end of the book.

I have a couple of my favourite quotes from Earthly Delights that I’ve copied down for you.

I can’t afford to spend days in self loathing as everyone expects fat women do. Self loathing eats your life. Being fat isn’t my fault or even my sin, despite what all those TV ads say. I was myself and that was what I was…

This book was first published in 2004 – a good six years ago now.  Even for 2010 it’s a radical statement for a female character in fiction.

Or how about this one:

The first thing anyone thinks about a fat woman is, disgusting creature, I bet she stuffs herself with Mars Bars before breakfast and eats her own weight in chocolate every day and we don’t, generally. My mantra is that I am fat because I am fat and there is not a lot I can do about it. And I have the example of Gossamer and Kylie always before me. I could not get that thin if I starved for ten years, and that is a fact. We are famine survivors, we fat women, and ought to be valued for it. We must have been very useful when everyone else collapsed with starvation. We would have been able to sow the crop, feed the babies and keep the tribe alive until spring came. If you breed us out, what will you do when the bad times come again?

Isn’t it just a delicious paragraph?  She goes on to say:

There was a reason why the oldest depiction of a human is the Venus of Willendorf, a huge fat woman.  We were genetically designed to keep your tribe alive so that the thin people could be born.  So be nice.  Or at least shut up about it.  Every time I turn on a TV I see (1) a car ad and then (2) some simpering female telling me how easy it is to lose weight by some new means and how wonderful she feels now she’s thinner, just send lots of money.  Then I snort and turn on cable.

Such wisdom!  I love the no bullshit style of narrative that Kerry gives Corinna, the kind of “Here’s how it is folks.” voice.

I will be purchasing the rest of the series and reading them each in turn, and I promise I will nab some of the best quotes to share with you all here on this blog.

However I do heartily recommend that you go out and get yourself copies and read them.  Buy them for your permanent collection (or at LEAST read the library copy first!) and even highlight the bits that make you feel good about yourself.

I’m pretty sure you will feel good about yourself when you read this series.

P.S. I have just found a website for this series: Earthly Delights

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21 comments on “Fabulous Fat Friendly Fiction

  • I have all four of the books she has written so far, which is not that easy for an American dealing with Australian books, & is more expensive than what I usually pay for books, but I am so glad to have them. The descriptions of Corinne suggest that she is actually almost exactly the same size I am, & Daniel is one hot man; he reminds me some of the man I love. This is really an excellent series, & one which helps me stay relatively sane in a world where too many otherwise fairly decent mysteries lose me because people are bitching about their weight, weighing their food, measuring themselves & each other against the cultural ideal, etc. Even in a relatively new mystery series I do enjoy, the Cackleberry Club, which is about three middle-aged friends who run a cafe with wonderful descriptions of food & a generally fun attitude, one woman is a size 12, but agrees to model in a ridiculous fashion show in clothes much too small, & one of her friends is a 16 who only admits to a size 14. The general tone of the books is good & doesn’t dwell a lot on body size, so it is far ahead of many mysteries, but none I have read, aside from Lynne Murray’s Josephine Fuller mysteries, are completely fat-positive. I do read the Sue Ann Jaffarian mysteries at times, but even her character is not as fat-positive as I would wish &, I admit, I got a bit turned off Jaffarian which I read on her blog a year or so ago that she had wanted to lose 100 pounds the previous year, but only managed 30.

    Sometimes it is hard to find writers who are totally on board with fat acceptance & positive fat characters, but Greenwood has accomplished that with Corrine.

  • Thanks for the great tip! Corinna’s voice in the quotes you shared comes through as someone I would love to spend time with…not to mention swap recipes with!

    I’ll definitely be on the lookout for these. Goodness knows that with my personal squicks I would never have looked twice at a cover with a woman in a latex catsuit with a whip in her hand. that’s just so much not my thing that I tend to stick my fingers in my ears and go LALALALALALALALAAAAA a lot when the subject comes up. If others like it, more power to them and have a great time, kids! It’s just not where I go for entertainment value.

    But if I can be assured that I’m not going to find myself reading a book where that’s the main kind of action, then I’m on board. Even if it appears as a piece of the puzzle, I think Corinna might well get me through it on the power of her deeply cool personality.

    Or I could look for another book in the series, now that I have both the author’s and the character’s names.

    • Twistie – the character on the cover is the wonderful Mistress Dread. Even Corinna is intimidated by her, once you read the books you’ll LOVE Mistress Dread!

      Not only is Corinna a wonderful character but ALL of Kerry Greenwood’s characters are fabulous.

  • “We are famine survivors, we fat women, and ought to be valued for it. We must have been very useful when everyone else collapsed with starvation. We would have been able to sow the crop, feed the babies and keep the tribe alive until spring came. If you breed us out, what will you do when the bad times come again?”

    More than anything, THIS. The powers that be can’t see past their blinkered notion of ‘obesity’ as a social problem to realise that there are sound evolutionary reasons for the existence of fat people. It’s folly to assume that the cheap, plentiful supply of calorie-rich food the West has enjoyed for the last eighty years or so will hold out indefinitely in a world where peak oil, nuclear weapons, man-made biological pandemics, comets, solar storms, EMP, global warming, and probably a dozen other potential scenarios we haven’t even yet considered all lurk below the horizon. Scientists should keep both the relative newness and the inherent fragility of technological civilisation in mind, and exercise great care in tampering with survival mechanisms that have ensured our species’ continuance over previous millennia.

  • Oh, what have you done, Kath? A fifth book? I probably will not be able to lay hands on it for a year or two here, but I will be looking.

    And Mistress Dread is a great character, but she is only a peripheral character. I also think that you guys get different book covers than we do here, as my books do not have Mistress Dread on them, pictures of the outside of the bakery, I think.

  • I am always looking for books with plus size heroines for my website. I am so glad I happen to check your blog today. Thanks for the info I will definitely be checking out this series.

  • I ordered the fifth book yesterday from Amazon, but I will be waiting until mid-June or so to get it. Oh, well, these books are well worth the wait.

  • I love the sound of these books. I’m definitely going to have to buy a book or two and will be sure to take them on the cruise we’re going on in April. It’s always nice to have something fat-positive around when wearing bathers as a size 24.

    My husband and I are both big readers but I can’t think of a single book that we own who has a main female character who doesn’t describe herself as thin. I’ve got every book in the Patricial Cornwells’ Kay Scarpetta series and the talk about women’s bodies really shits me at times. I’d love to hear about more books featuring women who don’t have perfect bodies and aren’t fixated on fixing them.

  • Revel in these well-padded fictional series detectives: Nero Wolfe by Rex Stout. Andy Broussard by D.J. Donaldson. “Aunt Sister” Mary Alice (many marriages, many last names!) by Anne George. Samantha Reid by G.A. McKevett. Odelia Patience Grey by Sue Anne Jaffarian. All rich and delicious. As the late, great Jennifer Patterson used to say, ‘One must have LUCIOUSNESS!!!’

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