Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: The Divorce Diet

The Divorce Diet
Ellen Hawley
Kensington Books
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:


Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Sadness, humor, growth, and a sprinkling of good food - sounds like a fantastic combination to me!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Iliana said...

I wasn't too interested in this book at first but I keep seeing good reviews of it so now it is on my list! Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Lisa said...

Ah, I thought about this one but was afraid it was going to be too cute. Sounds like I'll need to look for it after all.