Fully rounded heroines for fully rounded women

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Fully rounded heroines for fully rounded women


But the latest publishing phenomenon to sweep America 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. 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.

Mari Evans, commercial fiction publisher for Penguin, said: “Bridget Jones was the archetype of how women can use body weight as an excuse for failing to live life to the full. But this is a new take on that genre. In this brave new ‘chick lit’ world, women realise that weight loss and dieting isn’t the way to happiness. If these new heroines lose weight in the books, they do so incidentally, as a result of finding genuine happiness and fulfilment in more substantial areas of their lives.”

The new approach to chick lit has gained such a following in America that Mills & Boon has even given it a name — ‘bigger chick lit’ — and has published two books in the new format: Last-Minute Proposal by Jessica Hart and His LA Cinderella by Trish Wylie.

Jenny Hutton, editor of modern romance for Mills & Boon, said the new chick lit heroine was a woman with whom the reader could genuinely empathise. “Through the journey taken by this new breed of heroine, the discovery is made that it’s not weight that was the issue behind her lack of self-esteem. This is something readers already know, but we live in a world where that lie is peddled from every direction,” she said. “Readers want to hear the truth and, for once, chick lit is giving it to them.”

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