Reviewed by: Carrie Byrd
Review posted: 8/13/04
So maybe it seems like I’m showing Ms. Crusie a little unreasonable favoritism. I do seem to have an inordinate number of her books on the review page. But that’s mostly because every book she writes manages to catch my attention. Bet Me is no exception.
This novel differs from Crusie’s normal style. Most of her books move at what feels like breakneck speed, her characters wired to go. Bet Me is not a slow moving book, but compared to her previous work, it seems like it moves at a downright leisurely pace. In addition, Crusie’s main protagonist is very different from her normal brand of heroine. Miranda is (GASP) plump.
Well, plump in the way that means she’s not really plump at all. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to derail this review for a minute.
Stop. Calling. Normal. Women. Fat.
This is making me crazy. Every time someone wants to present a heroine who is a little bit different, unique, to really push the boundaries, the make her fat. Only fat in this case means she’s a size ten instead of a size six and are you KIDDING me? I loved the movie Love Actually because in an underhanded way, they addressed this. Everyone keeps calling Natalie fat, and Hugh Grant’s character is left going “What? Fat? What?” and that’s the reaction that I have to the so-called fat characters in books and movies. These are people who are smaller than the “average” woman, but they are still fat. The average woman wears a size 14. Size 14. I’m not making this up y’all. So the next time you want to convince me that fat girls can be pretty too, don’t try to convince me by making a size ten stand beside a size two. I mean it.
Okay, so back the review. Crusie’s enormously obese heroine meets a man who is attracted to her despite the fact that she is obviously disgustingly fat and no man will ever love her. Except that she believes he is only chasing after her to win a bet. Wacky hijinks ensue. And no one does wacky hijinks like Crusie. They come in second only to her witty banter, which, of course, is very witty.
The problem with Crusie is that I want to hate her a little bit for this book and I can’t. I can’t because it was an excellent book. Funny. Enjoyable. Filled with people you loved to hate and loved to love. Flawed characters that you cheered on as they grew. But every time someone referred to the heroine as fat or heavy or overweight or plump etc etc ad infinitum it jarred me out of the story.
And like any author who indulges her readership with a story about a fat girl, she falls into many of the same clichés. Also, if I never hear the word zaftig again, it will be too soon. If I do hear it again, I think I’ll be forced to beat the person saying it soundly. Are you kidding me with this crap?
People seem to believe that this sort of writing encourages fat acceptance and the idea that big can be beautiful. I say that rather than saying big is beautiful it says that she’s beautiful in spite of being big. As much as I enjoyed Bet Me, I felt ashamed of it at the end. Crusie is better than this kind of nonsense and so are her readers.