Available from Amazon.
Zoe and Greg Milton have let themselves go, to the tune of 14 stone 7 pounds (her) and twenty stone (him). When Zoe’s friend and colleague, local radio host, Elise, suggests they join five other couples in an on-air weight loss competition, ‘Fat Chance’, they are cross and resentful, but, on the other hand, they could do with £50,000 prize money. As the story progresses they get into it, trying all manner of exercise and diet techniques, and eventually reaching the point where they enjoy healthy food and exercise. They’re still after the 50 grand, though.
The story was told, almost entirely, as a series of diary entries (his and hers), the only exception being an advert for the ‘Fat Chance’ competition at the beginning. This works well, as the journals contain dialogue and the sort of detail you’d find in narrative – not how you or I would write our diaries, Dear Reader, but this licence is adopted by many authors, including Helen Fielding (of Bridget Jones fame)… Oh, how hard did I try not to repeat the word ‘diary’ in this paragraph, but I failed. It didn’t make sense without 2 ‘diaries’.
The strongest parts of the book concerns the outrageousness of reality shows, how the media treat participants as freak shows, expecting them to confide the most personal issues on air. Zoe and Greg resented it all intensely. Nor was Stream Radio in the least concerned about participants’ safety, causing one of the Fat Chance participants to need oxygen following their more ridiculous exercise activities. The weakest sections were those passages where the author took over his characters’ diary pages in order to lecture the reader on the value of diet and exercise, and which sorts of diets and exercise were best.
Characterisation was just about ok. Most of the time we got the feel of who Zoe and Greg were – quite ordinary people, not the sort to set the world alight. Nothing wrong with this. Then we are told that Greg has been a college rugby star and heart throb; whilst the idea of a sportsman getting out of condition is quite believable, Greg didn’t seem act and think like a sportsman, and I was surprised that he was surprised about what his personal trainer wanted him to do. Zoe, on the other hand, suddenly learns assertiveness, three quarters of the way through the text: I hadn’t been aware of her being a doormat in the first place, and the person over whom she went all tough had never featured in the book before, nor did she appear afterwards. What was refreshing, though, was Zoe and Greg’s warm relationship; you would expect some ups and downs, but the author didn’t include any at all, which made for a gentle, easy read.
To my mind, there were too many characters, some of whom, like Zoe’s parents, really did have bit parts. Moreover, we never got to know the other five couples in ‘Fat Chance'; they were introduced to the reader all at once, in a sort of bulleted list without the bullets, after which the author writes repeatedly about ‘Frankie and Benny’ and ‘Shane and Theresa’ and the others, without properly reminding us who they all are.
This book is ‘humour’, so it didn’t have a proper plot, although it followed a general storyline, but there was no real tension at the end. The author avoided the obvious ending (which would indeed have been very dull), but didn’t provide a twist either. The characters had moved on.
‘Fat Chance’ is the sixth humourous book by Nick Spalding. For more information about Nick, try his author Facebook page and blog. Released this month (October), ‘Fat Chance’ has gone straight into the Amazon Kindle top 5!
So, Dear Reader, would I recommend that you read ‘Fat Chance’? Well, I feel like my husband used to feel when I cooked him something experimental from a vegetarian cookery book. “I ate it,” he would say as he reached ham in the fridge. I read ‘Fat Chance’ and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my all time favourite.
By the way, I’ve got Blogs I Follow pouring into my email inbox on a Monday morning once again. Well done, me. None of the WordPress ‘help forums’ or ‘user sites’ were able to help. When I get my new phone on Monday, I intend to install WordPress app on to it, the better for reading posts and commenting. And also the Classic FM app; I’ve never thought of myself as one for music, seeing as virtually every other member of my family is ‘musical’, but I’ve started really enjoying Classic FM in the car on the way to and from work.