I’ve also been on a diet. Once or twice, I’ve needed to shed a couple of pounds. OK, several dozen pounds. Point being, I am familiar with the self-talk one engages in. You know the kind of inner dialogue. Before you sits the cake. “OK, one little slice,” you say. You shave off a sliver. You tell yourself, “Hide that thing from view,” so as to prevent temptation. You hide it so well that before you know it, only half the cake remains and you toss it in the garbage in disgust. Then you give the cake plate a thorough going-over to remove every last gob of icing. “Finger-licking good”, you tell yourself. You are crying. Or scowling. Or both.
No surprise, then, when I tell you how well I can relate to newly single Abigail in Ellen Hawley’s latest novel, The Divorce Diet. Abigail is trying out a new diet and records her intake and exercise in the journal. Sure, she has put on a few extra pounds when she was pregnant with Rosie. Sure, things haven’t been all that hot and heavy in the boudoir with her husband, “It’s-not-you-it’s-me” Thad. Good ol’ Thad. The guy with exquisite timing. The guy who drops a bomb over dinner. “This marriage thing? Yeah, it’s not working for me” It was his birthday dinner. The meal that she lovingly prepared that day. Including dessert. A chocolate cake with real chocolate leaves and raspberry jam and everything! A cake that ended up in the garbage after taking a short flight aimed at his head.
Hawley’s book is a diary of Abigail’s journey from the day she and the cake are dumped. We listen in on dialog between our newly single mother and her diet guru (the imaginary voice in her head) as she comes to terms with her situation. What will she do for work? Where will she live? Who will babysit Rosie, and wow, doesn’t that waiter have cute buns?
If you already read Ellen’s blog, Notes from the UK, then you are familiar with her wry, firecracker wit. The Divorce Diet is snappy and sassy. Every page, right up to and including the recipes (Yes! Chocolate Cake AND Chocolate Pie) is chock full of humour.
It’s poignant and heartbreaking too, to witness Abigail as she navigates the passage from marriage to single-motherhood; to watch as she realizes that perhaps life with Thad wasn’t all that and a bag of chips. That it’s time she listen to herself and not to some diet guru. It’s time to define what it is she loves to do. And do it.
The Divorce Diet will be released on December 30, 2014.
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