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The Fat Woman's Joke

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Esther Wells goes on a diet and the scales fall from her eyes. Depriving themselves of fatty foods, both husband and wife have new perspectives on each other, and the process is one of slow destruction of their marriage. Esther tells in flashback, from the depths of her basement apartment in Earls Court, the history of her marital disaster - in between her consumption of ...more
Paperback, 194 pages
Published 2003 by Flamingo (first published 1967)
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  306 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Everybody should read this book, mostly because I won't be quoting all the things I'd need to quote to give an adequate impression, and random ones would be misleading. They'd not be hugely memorable either, but nearly everything in this short novel is still depressingly true, forty years after she has written this novel.

I wasn't actually sure if I'd read it, but remembered after a few pages (well and she'd signed it for me in 1999). Told in a number of interlocking dialogues (semi-artificial,
May 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
Its years since I read a Fay Weldon, and I had never come across this one before, but I remember being riveted by Life and Loves of a She Devil and The Cloning of Joanna May, so I was really disappointed when I just could not get on with this one at all.

First thing to note is the style it is written in - consisting entirely of what can be described as a series of "scenes" consisting of dialogue only with nothing ever to say who said what, so you really have to keep your wits about you to keep
Aug 27, 2015 rated it liked it
It is decades since I first read, enjoyed, and probably even felt empowered, by some of Weldon's books, but had not previously come across 'The Fat Woman's Joke', the first of her published novels.

How does it stand up to my memory of her previous works and the impact they had? Given this is the first of her novels, that is perhaps an unfair question, rather what I find intriguing is to imagine how this book would have been read and received when it was first published in 1967 ... the Female
Sue Pretty
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Just one big dialogue. But I do love the Brits!
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I have ambivalent feelings about this book. On one hand, I finished it in 3 days and liked a lot of the quotes and themes from it; on the other hand, I felt very bored at times and really did not enjoy a lot of the dialogue (and the book is 90% dialogue). It felt stiff and pretencious and nothing like real people talk.
Bertine Maas
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scherp verhaal over een vechtscheiding. Een vrouw weigert het om mee te doen aan de slankheidscultus, en is verder heel eerlijk over zichzelf en over de mensen de haar omringen. Zij geeft een krachtig, geestig, vilein portret over een ingesleten huwelijk, ouder worden, de rivaliteit tussen vrouwen en de hierarchie in vriendschappen.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
It reads more like a play than a novel. I really enjoyed the quirky, satirical tone of the book. It’s a quick easy read with some good quotable lines.
Darian Lorrain
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
All of the negative reviews are true but for some reason I was still enchanted by this odd sort of absurdism in which nothing really happens
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminist, fiction
Alan and Esther have sunk into fat, middle-aged complacency. After an acerbic dinner party they decide to go on a diet, and that is the catalyst for the breakdown of their marriage, hunger fueling their dissatisfaction with each other and their dull lives. A true suburban stereotype, Alan turns to Susan, his secretary, whilst Esther moves into an unpleasant basement flat and takes her revenge on a looks-obsessed society by constantly eating.

When Esther's friend Phyllis visits, perfectly
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The word that came to my mind after reading this book was "incisive."

It cut me. It's proof that a novel can be both hilarious and profoundly depressing.

Read if you're interested in feminism. Read if you appreciate the absurd. Read if you enjoy f*cked up characters and situations.


Susan: "I need men to define me: to give me an idea of what I am. If I didn't have boyfriends I don't think I would exist. I would fly apart in all directions. So I must live my life in perpetual pain, if I want
Sep 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-english
A könyvtári könyvem legvégén vagy 6 oldalnyi üres lap található, amit nem tudok mire vélni. Remélhetőleg nem nyomdahibás a könyv és az üres lapok ennek az eredményei. Az utolsó nyomtatott szöveggel megajándékozott lapon nincs oldalszámozás, szóval reménykedem, hogy megkaptam a regény befejezését.

Így viszont nem is tudom, hogy mit szóljak. Egy biztos, hogy nem erre számítottam. Adott volt a Szabó Ervin könyvtár Böngészde részlege, angol könyvek sarka és ott a vidám címkével ellátott polc. Ott
Oct 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Wanneer Esther en Alan Wells, een echtpaar op middelbare leeftijd, samen besluiten op dieet te gaan, breekt de hel los. Meneer, vanuit een HONGERgevoel (tip: geef je man altijd voldoende te eten), gaat plots vreemd. Mevrouw, vanuit datzelfde hongergevoel, ontdekt dat haar relatie en huwelijksleven een gevangenisgeurtje heeft, verlaat het huis en geeft zich over aan boulemie-aanvallen in een miezerig flatje.
Voor de feministe Fay Weldon de kans om alle registers open te trekken en de lezer om de
Mar 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: england
2008 bookcrossing review:

I didn't like this book much. It was dull and ranty and a bit disappointing after the last book by Fay Weldon I read. I looked in the front and it says that it was first published in 1967. There was something about it that reminded me of Girl,17 by Kingsley Amis - not the writing or anything, just the way everyone was sleeping with everyone else and not being happy.

In some ways this was more like a play than a book, and it was just a rant about the battle between the
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
The dialogue was awkward, and the characters were painful to watch, but it was still a good read. I couldn't have tolerated it as a longer book, and the ending was disappointing. The value in it was how many times Weldon stripped people down to brazenly honest thoughts, and illustrated over and over how looks are deceiving. My favorite part was when Esther railed at Phyllis about Phyllis cornering happiness no matter what, even if it took ripping apart and stuffing her own flesh.
Nov 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Brilliant criticism of 60s middle class lifestyles, but it is a criticism. Theres not much in terms of plot or character development which makes it slow and dense. But it is good. I don't think I've even underlined more during a book. On a sentence level, Fey Weldon makes some excellent points. If you're looking for some feminism, this is the book for you. I will probably read more by Weldon but I have to take a break.
Bahar Jaberi
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Written in 1967 the novel had a strong message. I admire Faye Weldon for bringing up so many topics that women are still struggling with. What does independence mean? What is beauty? What should gender roles be? I don't believe that in the past 43 years, these questions have been answered, yet. I've become a big Faye Weldon fan.
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Me aburría mucho, y ponía en el resumen de esto algo de que era más divertido que las pifias de Romney. Ya. Resulta que no pillé la broma.

Lo hubiese terminado de todos modos, pero por ahí el 60% llegó mi hermana diciendo que lo había cogido por razones parecidas y dejado por razones parecidas también.
Sep 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1995
Description from Amazon "Fay Weldon's first novel is a parable on the way people see themselves. It follows Esther Sussman who leaves her husband after they go on a diet that she soon realizes she does not want to be on. She sets out to show that happiness is not dependent on her size."
Vicki Cline
This is an interesting book, but all of the characters are unlikeable. The two main characters are The Fat Woman and her husband's mistress and they are each telling their side of the story to a friend. We also meet the husband. You just want to slap them all silly.
Oscar Quintanilla Jr
Okay book

Okay book.
Not a book I would recommend to anyone. Although I read it. The title was a catchy one.

Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book as I couldn't wait to find out what really wrong thing was going to happen next. I loved the writing and the theories presented. I will find my Fay Weldon books!
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
A bizarre story about nothing
Nov 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Buttered toast.
Martijn Onderwater
It seems that I missed some hidden meaning when reading this book. Nothing really happens, and I can't see any moral lesson. If it would have been longer, I would probably not have finished it.
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Jul 18, 2014
Mary Love
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Jan 19, 2012
Julie Thomason
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Jan 29, 2015
Rachael Buchanan
rated it it was ok
Nov 10, 2019
Norma Lester
rated it it was ok
May 18, 2015
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Mar 12, 2010
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Fay Weldon CBE is an English author, essayist and playwright, whose work has been associated with feminism. In her fiction, Weldon typically portrays contemporary women who find themselves trapped in oppressive situations caused by the patriarchal structure of British society.
“Food. Drink. Sleep. Books. They are all drugs.” 656 likes
“It is the memory of past happiness that makes the present so intolerable.” 10 likes
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