If I see a book written by the former editor-in-chief of Marie Claire and compared to Helen Feilding’s Bridget Jones series, of course, I am going to be intrigued. However, as you can likely gauge from the title the subject matter is incredibly sensitive and the book speaks directly on several aspects of how we perceive ourselves, and our current difficulties, and relationships in relation to body shape. Therefore, this book is very difficult to review but I’m going to give it my best shot.
All views below are, as usual, entirely my own and I am taking the content of this book at face value to the level of the words on the page. There is an author’s note at the end of the book detailing Liz Jones’ own experiences with eating disorders and her journey to writing this book, however, please be aware I did not read it prior to reading the main narrative or writing this review. Alongside my own rating I have also included a five-star review and one-star review at the end to give any prospective readers multiple perspectives and a range of information.
About the Book (Provided for Book Tour)
When I reach eight and a half stone:
• I will be able to shop in Topshop. If only I could fit in a size 10 or an 8, just walk in a shop and not even have to try it on because let’s face it I will be straight up and down, then everything would slot neatly into place, completing the easiest jigsaw puzzle in the world: all straight edges.
• I will be able to go swimming and not displace all the water and create a tsunami.
• I will fit in changing rooms, without banging my elbows or exposing the moon of my arse through the curtain when I bend over.
• I will be able to fit behind the narrow benches at Ronnie Scott’s to listen to jazz instead of being offered a chair, at the end.
• I will be promoted and not have my desk moved to inside the stationery cupboard.
The highlight of this book is easily the compilation of rom-com-like plot lines which kept me turning the pages. Pam has two key relationships and the book throws itself into depicting her marriage, its breakdown, and her absolute trash boyfriend later on. Discovering each twist and turn in these relationships was my favourite part of this book. Especially as I expected simply an office-to-home adventure through Pam’s life these genuinely surprising turns each came out of left-field but in the best way. I wasn’t a fan of Pam’s reaction to one of these twists, however, they opened up more elaborate and wider challenges to face Pam. This was also present in Pam’s adult relationship with her mother, one which I’m sure many people can relate to. Eventually, in the very end of the novel these relationships and their results resurface and culminate in a genuinely moving ending scene detailing the awareness Pam has gained of the people around her.
I was also caught off guard by the stark depiction of the sheer pain and fear Pam experiences in the wake of her surgery. These moments genuinely became quite emotional alongside with the depictions of her relationships all mixed in with her post-surgery emotions. This segment kept me gripped and you can’t read this section without feeling your curiosity grow to see the effects of the surgery on Pam’s life. Alongside the couple lines which made me chuckle, and the pitching of the book, this starkly emotional moment smacked me from the surprise and its perspective.
Now, I did absolutely tear through this book in a couple of days, however, even as I was reading it the writing style took me out of the narrative a lot. As I mentioned above, some aspects of the narrative did intrigue me and drew me in. However, Pam’s perspective is written, apparently both by the character (as she refers to typing) and the author, as a diary entry edging on stream of consciousness as there is no clear division between any time frames or dates beyond snippets from Pam herself stating it is two weeks later, or she is now in this particular location. This goes on to also effect the plot as you don’t see her, for example, simply going to and from the office and working before her employment is affected by the key aspects of the plot. You do see insights into the fashion industry in the form of fancier events and important meetings towards the conclusion, however, I would have appreciated seeing where Pam came from far more. The fashion industry just seems to slip away from this book and whenever I think back on my reading, I just don’t remember these aspects.
Alongside the effects of the writing style on the timeframe, Pam’s inner-language as a character just goes beyond the levels of harsh sarcasm and critique both relating to herself and others. I certainly never wanted a stark split in attitude between pre-and-post surgery Pam, but I was quite surprised by just how continuous and relentless Pam’s negative perspective and language was throughout the entire book bar some five-page moments of levity. I am never against reading unlikeable main characters. Most of the time I thoroughly enjoy them and seek out novels constructing interesting unlikable characters. However, Pam just took it to a whole other level. There were some lines which simply made me quite uncomfortable, took me right out of the book, and had me cringe slightly at the expressions used. This even injected itself into Pam’s relationships with women in particular. I was very surprised at her descriptions of her best friend, her best friend’s advice and finally even the descriptions of Pam’s own children, and in the end, I feel it completely disconnected me from her character.
Overall, I certainly did tear through this book and it only took me two days to read. I also simply enjoyed trying it out, reading an e-book in the sun and reading about the mishaps and twists of Pam’s romantic relationships. However, I simply can’t ignore the disconnecting writing style and a highly unlikable protagonist who the story relies on to work. Due to my personal reading experience I have decided to give this book two stars.
8 ½ Stone is now out in ebook available from all outlets including Apple Books and Kindle with the paperback to follow in August. If you are thinking about checking out this book and you would like to read a wider range of opinions please follow the blog tour and the bloggers listed in the image above, read reviews from Goodreads, and check out the reviews from Shruti on This is Lit (one star review) and Michelle on The Book Magnet (five star review).
I was sent a final proof ebook of 8 ½ Stone by Midas PR in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Midas PR for this opportunity.
Buisness E-Mail: Vickylordreview@gmail.com
Goodreads: Vicky Lord