Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith

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Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A wonderfully funny, calamity-full story that leaves you feeling warm and happy and a little bit hungry!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Polygon
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781846973000

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I always get a little shiver of excitement when I have new book by Alexander McCall Smith. These are the books that I devour regardless of my normal day-to-day, mother-of-two activities and I have been known to carry on reading them whilst cooking, book in one hand, spatula in the other, much to the detriment of the sausages left burning under the grill! This was another one that I continued reading long past my bedtime because I just wanted to keep reading and keep reading. Fatty is a delightful character, and his story is definitely worth a read.

So, Fatty is from Fayetteville in Arkansas and he and his wife Betty do, it has to be said, err on the rather large side. At home in Fayetteville their size causes them no problems but when Betty books her Irish-American husband a trip to Ireland for his birthday the problems begin. Poor Fatty. It seems the calamities start from the beginning of their trip and they are both funny and painful to read at times. Just when you think things can't possibly get any worse for Fatty they do indeed get worse. And then worse again. And again! The escapades are so gently, lovingly written then I felt nothing but sympathy for poor Fatty.

The happenings are very silly, farcical even, yet I found myself believing in them. If I heard in isolation of a man getting stuck in a cast iron bath tub and the bath being dismantled from the plumbing then carried outside for them to try to remove him, well, I wouldn't believe it at all! But when this happens to Fatty (I know, poor Fatty!) well it all just seems perfectly believable. Fatty and Betty are both very innocent and naive, and I liked the villainous character of Mr O'Brien. He is immediately recognisable as the most terrible name-dropping snob and again the conversations between Mr O'Brien and Fatty are both painful and funny. All the conversations through the story are beautifully done. I can always imagine AMS's characters so easily, and some parts of this story really made me laugh. I love how he captures truly awkward moments in conversations, so much so that I can actually feel my shoulders clench at certain points before the moment passes and the conversation continues.

I loved the relationship between Fatty and his wife, their respect for each other and how they understand each other so well. I also liked that not everyone is nice and pleasant and that there are some villains, or perhaps just rogues, within the book too. The ending lands on a high and I found myself at the end hoping that perhaps we would one day get to hear some more about Fatty. I don't imagine he'll launch into his own series but I felt it would be nice to see him wandering about Edinburgh on holiday some time and perhaps bumping into Isabel Dalhousie or little Bertie, from some of AMS's other novels.

I found myself, afterwards, thinking of weight issues, of the sarcasm of strangers and how contentious an issue 'being fat' really is. I rather like how things end for Fatty in this regard - you'll have to read it to find out, I'm not going to spoil it for you! I think my only complaint would be that the book was entirely too short! I suppose that's quite nice, sometimes, to just read a shorter novel and find it enjoyable all the way through, but of course it just meant I finished it far too quickly! Still, it is warm and witty as well as being both uncomfortable and comforting. A delightful mixture of a story that's well worth a read.

If you fancy trying another of Alexander McCall Smith's standalone novels I would most heartily recommend La's Orchestra Saves the World.

Buy Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.com.


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