The story follows Greg and Zoe Milton, a young British couple who volunteer to enter a Biggest Loser-type competition called "Fat Chance." It's being hosted by their local radio station, and features six couples all competing to win a 50,000 pound prize. Greg and Zoe, like so many, have put on quite a bit of weight during their married lives, and they see this as an opportunity to slim down AND win some money. What makes this book so very entertaining (and highly readable), is the fact that the chapters are written as Greg and Zoe's diary entries that they are required to write as part of the competition. This results in a much funnier narrative than might have otherwise resulted from a third-person approach, as we get the events unfolding in both Greg and Zoe's unique voices.
And these events are truly funny. The couple begins by writing about the events that convince them it's time to do something about their weight. For Zoe, it's an episode in a dressing room with a size 16 dress that she is convinced she can fit onto her size 18 body. She gets irreversibly stuck in the dress, of course, and somehow also manages to get wrapped up in the dressing room curtain, all while other customers waiting for the dressing room look on in amusement and horror (unbeknownst to Zoe, of course). Greg's moment of decision comes when he and Zoe attend a costume party and he manages to wedge himself into one of those plastic patio chairs (if you are a large person, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about and, like me, have probably done it). This does not end well for Greg, of course, with him eventually on the ground, the party tent in shambles around him, and with the remnants of the chair firmly attached to his butt as he tries to get up.
The instrument of Greg's torture.
Things go downhill from there, of course, with Zoe trying various Internet diets and Greg spending lots of money on "As-Seen-On-TV" exercise machines that don't do much of anything except empty his wallet. Soon, however, the Miltons' hard and consistent diet and exercise begin to pay off, and the reader is rooting for them as it appears they might actually win the competition. I won't spoil the book for you by saying too much, but suffice it to say that the book ends on a positive, satisfying note.
Along the way, the author does something very interesting. As Spalding puts Zoe and Greg through their weight-loss torments, they (and the reader) discover the correct way to lose weight. (Spoiler alert: it involves eating healthy and exercising. I know: shocker, right?) This is not done in any kind of preachy or didactic way, but it definitely comes across in the story, and I thought that was a very entertaining way to work in such information.
In short, this was a fantastic, funny book that I enjoyed reading very much. Zoe's experiments with diets (including a cabbage soup diet that has severe consequences in the gastrointestinal department) and Greg's search for the perfect exercise equipment (which culminates in running on a treadmill while naked, and involves a very surprised postman as a result) are just some of the hilarious situations in this book. While it's not the kind of book that made me laugh out loud, I did find myself grinning on many occasions at the ridiculousness of some of the episodes in the story.
The author, Nick Spalding, is British, and the story is set in Great Britain, so this book does have a lot of British terms and idioms that may be confusing or even maybe slightly off-putting to some readers. However, most of them are pretty self-explanatory, and for those that aren't, there's always Google! Readers should also be advised that this is an adult book, with lots of adult language and situations. Still, I would recommend this book highly, and I'm definitely going to be looking to read more of Mr. Spalding's stuff.
Disclaimer: I received a complementary digital copy of this book from the book's publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation in return for the review, and I was not required to review the book. All opinions expressed here are my own.