31 May, 2013

#BookReview :: Big Girl by Danielle Steel

In this heartfelt and incisive new novel, Danielle Steel celebrates the virtues of unconventional beauty while exploring deeply resonant issues of weight, self-image, sisterhood, and family.

A number of people have recommended me to read Danielle Steel over the years and I have had a chance to read only one of her books, Echoes, so far. I had really enjoyed reading it and so I was glad to get my hands on a second book by the author.

Victoria Dawson has always been treated as the black sheep of her family. She felt like a misfit within her family when it came to her looks. Her academic achievements were never acknowledged while every spoon of ice-cream she ate was frowned upon. When she lands a job of her choice at New York, she gets a chance to start over a new life away from her disapproving parents and her dear sister. But when Grace announces her engagement, things become complicated for Victoria. On one hand she is worried for Grace because she feels that Grace has chosen to be with a man who is just like their father. And on the other hand, the lack of action in her own love life bothers her. And then with an act of betrayal, everything changes.

When I read the summary of the book, I could hardly wait to start on it. I have often wondered why all the female protagonists are the ones with a perfect body and looks. After all, in the real world, women do come in all shapes and sizes. Why doesn’t anyone tell their story. It seemed to me that this book was finally offering the readers something different when it came to its protagonist. And I was right in a way.  Victoria is no model or fashionista, instead she is overweight and struggles with eating problems. But at the same time, she is also very meek and lacks the strength of character. That’s where I had my problem. Just because a girl is a bit over weight (it is not like Victoria has to shop only in plus size stores!) doesn’t mean that she has to lack self-confidence and strength. And, while her parents weren’t certainly no model parents, I felt that she too cared a bit too much.  Grace was in a sad state as well.

The plot had great potential in terms of outlining the problems faced by people with weight issues, eating disorders, emotional abuse and cheating. But somehow the author failed to failed to make a single point even after some 300 odd pages. But at least the author brought up some very important questions for us to ponder about and answer. And however much I criticize Victoria, I also know that there are many girls out there who are going through the same things and reacting in the same way. So, I have to admit that instead of painting a rosy picture, the author has given us some dose of reality through the Novel. And yes, there’s that happy ending that brings home some hope.

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This Review also appears in the Second Issue of Tamarind Rice

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