recommended reading: How to Cook a Tart (Nina Killham)

I was given How to Cook a Tart by a friend who was moving cross-country and liquidating her chick-lit collection. Read it last week. Laughed out loud at the first line, then the rest of the first paragraph:

What a disastrous way to start the day, Jasmine March thought as she stared down at her husband’s nubile lover, dead on her kitchen floor. Jasmine held her breath and surveyed the vivid crime scene. Her special marble rolling pin lay six inches from the girl’s bashed temple. Blood pooled in a rich raspberry hue. On the counter, tinfoil lay balanced askew over the plate of Jasmine’s homemade chocolate brownies. Jasmine winced. One of the brownies was stuffed into the girl’s mouth. As Jasmine gazed down at the young woman’s willowy waist, she was sure of only two things. One, her husband’s birthday dinner was ruined. Two, her rolling pin, thank God, was not chipped.

Ha!

The rest of the book doesn’t quite live up to that paragraph, but it’s damn good (in a light, sitting in the backyard with a sipping cup of limoncello and painted toenails kind of way). But that’s not why I’m recommending it here. I’m recommending it because it is, more or less, a fat acceptance tale. There’s a very explicit pro-fat plot (Jasmine, the fat heroine – a cookbook author – cooks extravagantly and without concern for calories, her cookbooks aren’t selling well in the fat-phobic environment, she’s outraged) but what’s more compelling is how Jasmine’s size plays through the story.

There are some hiccups along the way to fat acceptance. Jasmine’s life revolves around food. She eats much more and much more decadantly than the other characters. Her daughter is anorexic because, her doctors say, she doesn’t want to grow up to look like her mother. In several cases, dehumanizing language is used to describe her body (she “lumbers” down the street; her husband pulls the covers up over her “bulk”).

But overall, Jasmine is portrayed as happy, smart, attractive, together. The first time her husband lays eyes on her, she’s eating and he’s mesmerized with desire – as are all the other men in the room. A much younger, very attractive man comes on to her throughout the book; he loves her spirit, style and her body. She is happy and resilient throughout the book. You want to be her friend. You want to eat her food. It feels like a relief to read a positive portrayal of a fat woman in a light novel.

Give it a go. Let me know what you think! And, please, recommend other fat-positive books – I’m always looking for a good read.

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2 responses to “recommended reading: How to Cook a Tart (Nina Killham)

  1. you should check out All Of Me: A Voluptous Tale by Vernise Berry. God read! I will try to pick up the tart book next time I am at Chapters.

  2. Yay, my library has it. I love mysteries and am putting a hold on it now!

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