Good In Bed
I picked up a copy of Good in Bed as a result of a discussion I was in about Brit Chick Lit. This book is not British, but in many other ways, it does fall into the same sub-genre. The heroine is young, urban, professional, single, and somewhat neurotic. She’s also quite funny and rather endearing in a snarky sort of way. I liked this book.
Cannie Shapiro has a problem. She’s fat. Not that I-need-to-lose-10-pounds, Bridget Jones kind of fat; she’s large, actually quite overweight. But she’s a successful person in every other way. She has a lucrative career as a journalist, a nice set of friends, a funky dog, a good apartment and a fantastic sense of humor. Then one afternoon she opens a copy of Moxie, a Cosmo-style magazine and is suddenly starring in her own worst nightmare. Her “We were on a break” ex-boyfriend Bruce has channeled his post-breakup angst into a career. He’s now a Moxie columnist, and his first article is entitled “Loving a Larger Woman.” It’s all about Cannie.
Angry and humiliated beyond belief, she confronts Bruce and then seeks out help at the University of Philadelphia Weight and Eating Disorders Center. It’s time, she decides, to get everything under control-her weight, her love life, everything. But it doesn’t quite happen that way. Bruce’s rejection hits her hard, and suddenly he seems like the One Who Got Away instead of the slacker slug she’d thought him to be. Now she would do anything to get him back, even if it means hurting herself more.
I probably would not have continued reading past the first 100 pages if I had not been reviewing this book. But that would have been a mistake. If I had allowed myself to put the book down when it started getting angsty, I would have missed getting to know Cannie, and she is a wonderful character. I would have missed her subtle progression from self-destructive to self-possessed, and I would have missed her numerous quirky or sarcastic observations. I laughed out loud many times at stuff she thought or said.
Cannie’s weight problem is dealt with in a realistic manner that I think most readers will appreciate. She doesn’t wake up one morning transformed into Calista Flockhart, but she does come to an acceptance of who she is and what her limitations are. Another theme that is explored in Good in Bed is the parental abandonment that is so often the result of a divorce. Cannie must deal with her feelings about the father who left her before she can make sense of Bruce or any other man. I thought her anger and her disappointment were well done.
The only real problem I had with the book is that I thought the ending was perhaps a little too neat. The book’s small romantic sub-plot was very sweet, and I very much liked the character of Cannie’s would-be suitor, but their relationship was never explored fully enough to justify the ending. Also, and I’m sure this is not Weiner’s fault, the cover and the title were misleading. They are attention-grabbing certainly and will probably increase sales, but they have little to do with what the book is really about. Other than some gossipy personal admissions and a few undetailed flashbacks, Good in Bed has nothing to do with sex at all. The title of Bruce’s article, “Loving a Larger Woman” would be more appropriate.
I think that you will enjoy getting to know Cannie as much as I did. She’s a breath of fresh air: an overweight person who comes to embrace her own beauty and value. I will look forward to Jennifer Weiner’s future offerings.