Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Review: The Divorce Diet
paperback, 234 pages
a review copy of this book was provided through TLC Book Tours
We all know that food and love are intimately connected. We just don't always know how to manage that connection.
The Divorce Diet is a novel that blends humor, pathos, and the very real-sounding advice of an imaginary diet guru. Abigail is forty pounds overweight and unhappy, but she doesn't really know that yet. She's married and staying home with her adorable baby, having put her cooking career on hold--just one of the things she's decided to give up for a life with Thad, her self-absorbed and snobbish husband.
The novel begins with Abigail at home, cooking a fabulous meal for her caddish husband, whose birthday it is. She's also just started a diet, and the guru-like voice of her diet book soon becomes the guru-like voice of her imaginary friend as Abigail realizes that she's being dumped. Suddenly single, without a career, friends, or much sanity, Abigail clings to the structure offered by her diet book: record every single thing you eat, and every time you exercise.
The Divorce Diet isn't as depressing as it sounds, although the protagonist is often depressed. Abigail is forced to pick up the pieces of her life and rediscover the passions that used to drive her. One of those passions is cooking. Descriptions of food, meals, and recipes are scattered throughout this novel, with an additional recipe section at the back. Hawley's writing is precise and charming; The Divorce Diet is funny, entertaining, and a bit wry. Hawley firmly avoids sentimentality or a too-serious tone through humor, and through Abigail's wry and self-deprecating voice. Although Abigail starts out as a bit of a marshmallow (in her inability to stand up for herself, for starters), she eventually gains insight, and her insights are earned and believable.
I really liked this book, and was surprised at the end by how touching it was. Abigail grew on me, and I was impressed by Hawley's technique. The way the author wove food and cooking into the story is appealing, and Hawley manages her narrative voice perfectly. The Divorce Diet would be an excellent choice for a book club selection: discussing this book over wine and some of the recipes in the book would be great fun. Recommended for book clubs, and for readers who enjoy humor and a good story.
Ellen Hawley's author website:
Ellen Hawley's blog: