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Hungry for Happiness

2.45  ·  Rating details ·  126 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
In his beguiling and powerful new novel, the award-winning author of Dancing in the Lowcountry serves up a story of friendship, Southern food, dreams, and determination.

Loretta Crawford grew up in a family where lives are small and appetites are big, and where the cure for what ails you can usually be found in a plate of hot biscuits or a slice of rich pound cake. The re

Paperback, 275 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Kensington (first published January 1st 2010)
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I was interested to read this book for several reason. I like books that purport to be "southern" and this one's blurb talked about southern cooking. I love to cook, and often like the books that tell stories involving food, and cooking (which I almost typed as "fooking", but that's something entirely different.) James Villas is a renowned food writer and cook book author, so at least that aspect of the book promised to be hopeful. I like stories about people who transform themselves, not necess ...more
Jul 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book is so terribly insulting and demeaning to women, I can't even read past the first chapter. Who the hell does this guy think he is?
Terri Watts
May 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was awful! Typically I only give books 1 star of I disliked it so much I couldn't finish it, which has only happened once and that was in Elementary school. However, I made an exception with this book. This is also the first book I've really taken the time to put a review down for.

I called most of the plot "twists" and was repulsed by the manner of language in this book. Who calls their best friend fatso and repulsive and everything else this writer says Let does? Also, no 280 is not
Michelle Rabinowitz
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
As a southern woman, I literally hate the main character’s language. No woman I know talks like she does. Also, all of the characters have names from a century ago and this book seems to be set in the early 2000s. There were 2 things that were interesting/honest: the fact that a once fat girl gone thin is still unhappy , and obsessed, with her looks... and her detail in cooking. For these reasons, I gave it 2 Stars.
Fran Calloway
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
All the characters in this book are a total mess and the main character, Loretta, appears the worst of all. Loretta has plenty of addictions other than food. And her language is filled with profanity, "GD" being her favorite and literally on every page. This storyline had the potential for being so much more, but I did enjoy the recipes incorporated with her catering business.
Nov 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
I just don’t think I enjoyed this book at all. Loretta was a miserable woman and the way she talked about overweight people was dreadful, I could understand if it was about herself like an inner dialogue we all have that but the way she spoke about her mother, her sister and her friends got to be too much. It’s one thing to worry about their health but to call then fat tubs o’lard or fatties was just over the top. Also I really doubt everyone is called bub, southern people calling you hun yes bu ...more
Feb 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Hungry for Happiness is the story of Loretta Crawford, a 36-year old woman who's husband leaves her for another, thinner woman. Loretta decided to change her life and starts by having lap band surgery. Before her surgery she weighed 280 pounds (and was only 5'4"). Even though Loretta is losing weight, she still loves to cook and word gets around that she's one of the best cooks around. Soon she has her own catering business. Also, as she loses more and more weight, she catches the eye of more an ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I was in the mood for a light read and this book filled the bill. While it wasn't fabulous, it wasn't terrible either. The story is about Loretta, who was overweight most of her life until she had her stomach "banded." After losing a significant amount of weight, she still struggles with the acceptance of her new body, questions whether or not she is now "thin enough," and has many battles with controlling herself so she does not gain her weight back. Loretta is also an incredible cook, a talent ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
I am not going to read this book. The reason is on the first page, where, after ranting about "fat, disgusting fat--pure and simple" , he lets us know that the character is 5'4" and 280 pounds.
I'm tired of men randomly deciding what too fat is for women. I'm 5'4" but under 280, and I can guarantee that we all carry it differently, and not only do we not all look disgusting, but THAT'S A SHITTY WAY TO JUDGE PEOPLE. He probably wouldn't find me disgustingly fat on sight, and he obviously cares mo
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Having finally received the book yesterday, after winning the drawing in November, I started reading it last night.

Meh. I've gotten about halfway through, and I've come to the decision that it's hard for men to write women characters. The premise is interesting: A woman's life changes a lot after having gastric bypass surgery and losing over 100 lbs. However, Loretta is very naive, doesn't see what's happening right under her nose, and she tries too hard to get her overweight relatives to chang
Susan O'Bryant
Feb 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: southern-fiction
I really wanted to like this book, and I tried to. I'm a southern girl myself who loves food and fights the scales, so going by the description I thought I'd love the novel. Or at the very least connect with the main character. But each time I picked it up and started reading, I felt like I was on the phone with some lady who kept calling to update me on her crazy life since her surgery and her many wacky friends and dates and work experiences. I didn't even find it humorous; it was mostly just ...more
Mar 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
I hated it. First of all, it's incredibly insulting to anyone that has even a few extra pounds. And if a man is attracted to a heavier woman is a "pervert" and "needs serious help"? The main character is negative, hateful, and allows herself to be used and abused in an attempt to make her friends see how great she is. And, as a born and raised Texan, all I can say about the dialogue and description of these people and places is just NO. Has the writer ever been to Texas? If so I'd like to know w ...more
Oct 27, 2010 rated it liked it
This wasn't bad but it could have been better. The heroine is a deep-fried Southern former fat girl and the story picks up after she's had lap-band surgery. She suffers through some strange, bizarre, and sad relationship issues, has countless arguments with her overweight family members who think she's 'putting on airs' now that she's lost weight, yet succeeds with carrying on her life despite all of the obstacles thrown in her path. My biggest gripes are the highly exaggerated Southern accent t ...more
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Two stars is correct - it was ok. The story was unspectacular and not what I was hoping for. For lack of a better phrase, the story was shallow. The narrator was shallow. The writing style was annoying almost to the point of distraction, and made it more difficult to like any of the characters. I've been to Texas. I have friends from Texas. They don't go around using "sugar" and "hon" every other word. I understand wanting to convey a time and place, but it's just insulting to me that the author ...more
Nov 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Ok, I'll be honest. I bought this book entirely because of the title and cover. Stupid way to spend $15, but it worked out well because I enjoyed this book a lot.

I assumed this book was about cooking, food, and life, and it is... But it's also the story of someone that chose to have weight loss surgery. The story is not ABOUT the surgery or recovery, but it is about living life after that.

The writing is very good. I could clearly picture the protagonist's world, I could smell her cooking, I coul
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
Even two stars might be too much. This book was not good. The main character was unlikeable and the story was weak. It was supposed to be about a woman who loses a lot of weight and starts her own catering business but really it was just a bunch of random anecdotes strung together by a judgmental attitude. I was hoping for an ending that indicated that the main character had reached some sort of enlightenment and mended her ways but that didn't happen either. A big disappointment.
Katrina Weiss
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
I don't understand how a woman who was portrayed as being so intelligent in some ways (such as building her catering business from scratch), could be so stupid. I am not from the south, but I refuse to believe that most of the women who are act as tacky and trashy as most of the women in this book. It seems like a lot of stereotypical redneck activities (such as shooting and dancing the two-step, which I'm not against in any way), were included but made to look dumb.
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
I could not like Loretta, the main character. Her disdainful attitude toward "fatties" kind of stuck in my craw. Maybe I am just sensitive about my weight but I found her rude at some points; also a bit of a slut. I am happy that she finally wised up and loosened up. Her recipes were worth the read.
Nov 12, 2011 rated it liked it
This book was somewhat interesting and funny but also predictable and annoying (mainly due to the exaggerated southern accent of the narrator). It seemed to be a collection of wacky stories that didn't come to a point, unless the point was for Loretta to finally realize she needs to love herself as she is, but it never quite made it there. It was still a fairly enjoyable book anyway.
Jan 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
I don't mind books with unhappy endings, nor do I mind books that leave you thinking. However when I turned the last page and saw a bunch of receipes I actually continued on looking for the ending. Really? That was it? Was there a point out there I missed? If you're hungry for happiness, you probably should not read this book. If you're hungry for a good story, definitely do NOT read this book.
Nov 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed reading about the character's struggle with life after gastric bypass surgery and the protagonist's rather unsupportive family. I think these are pretty realistic situations. I didn't feel like the characters were fully rounded out, however. The novel felt a little thin. As the two stars denote, "It was okay."
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wish I good do half stars, I would actually give it 1 and 1/2 stars. The main character is whiny and self-absorbed. I was hoping this would be a book about changing your life/habits with humor inserted through-out. I was wrong. The only thing I enjoyed were the recipes.
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting story about a woman who has bariatric surgery after her husband leaves her. She works a few different jobs but really enjoys catering. Guess she finds herself at the end but it's probably more just coming to accept her life.
Oct 31, 2010 rated it did not like it
i don't know what was more offensive, the terrible writing or the absolute self-loathing and "fat stereotypes" that marked this story. per the author's not so subtle message, chubby chasing is a perversion. go figure.
Apr 19, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a very light story that I read while in the hills of CA. It was a very light-read, but I enjoyed the voice of the author, James Villas. It is a story of an obese young woman, her loves, lives, and losses. It was just what I needed for my R&R! Glad I picked it up from the library.
Jul 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Had trouble with the southern lingo and most of the characters were unlikable, but the recipes look good!
Rebecca Fox
Jul 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Easy read, nothing deep, and it gives recipes in the back that I will have to try.
Carmen B. bunt
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
It was a so-so story. It was anti-climatic. It was derogatory. Nothing special and not worth reading again.
Oct 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
2.5 maybe... this book was kind of "meh". I usually enjoy books that involve food but the main character in this book was just annoying and she just didn't seem the least bit realistic.
April the Librarian
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite. The premise was good and the story line itself was ok,but I didn't really like any of the characters. I expected more.
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really want to read it! 2 5 May 18, 2011 12:16AM  
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James Villas was the food and wine editor of Town & Country magazine for twenty-seven years. His work has also appeared in Esquire, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Saveur, The New York Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, among other publications. Two of his cookbooks have been nominated for a James Beard Award. He has also won a James Beard Award twice for journalism and received Bon Appetit's Food Writer ...more
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