Dear Fatty, by Dawn French

Dawn French is a household name in Britain and to those who watch BBC Canada. She played the Anglican minister Geraldine in The Vicar of Dibley for 10 years, which is tuppence compared to how long she’s been in the comedy biz with her buddy Jennifer Saunders (she of Absolutely Fabulous fame, and to whom the ‘Fatty’ of the title refers - who is anything but). Younger audiences may know Ms. French from her cameo as “the fat lady portrait” in the third Harry Potter film, and lately she has been seen in the series’ Jam & Jerusalem and Lark Rise to Candleford. In this most unusual memoir, however, she writes very little very about her own stardom, although plenty of pictures show just how broad her career has been. Still, she keeps the name-dropping at a tantalizing minimum, and instead focuses on the people in her life who have influenced and inspired her along the way. Each chapter is actually a letter to one of those people – her parents, Fatty, various friends met along the way, past crushes, her B.F. (best friend, whose name is not revealed), her husband and daughter – and each letter recalls hilarious anecdotes, cringe-worthy moments, and even imaginary fantasies (i.e. the kiss with George Clooney - not so imaginary, but the after-affect was). A perpetually overweight RAF-brat who moved around lot and developed her sense of humour to make friends and not alienate people, her seemingly privileged life has not been tragedy-free by a long-shot. However, she avoids being maudlin by introducing these episodes in a very gentle way, chapters before she gets into the nitty-gritty of the circumstances. More like a peek into someone’s diary, Dear Fatty is likely to leave one tearful as much from laughing at Dawn French’s ebullient self as from the tender revelations of her life. It is the best memoir I have read in a very long time.
Click here to reserve your copy of her memoir, or here to watch her in action on Youtube.
In the Stratford Gazette on January 9, 2009


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