Newest Review: ... linear, chronological layout that most celebrities use in their autobiographies and I think that it's a quite refreshing and inven... more
With Love From Dawn
Dear Fatty - Dawn French
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Dear Fatty - Dawn French
Advantages: Well written, easy to get into autobiography
Disadvantages: Nothing for me
Dear Fatty is the autobiography of comedienne and actor Dawn French who I have long been a fan of. I enjoy watching her bubbly personality and think some of the comedy shows she has been done have been excellent, although I was less familiar with her straight acting roles. The book was published in 2008, prior to her splitting from her husband Lenny Henry. Whilst this is not mentioned in my book, she does allude to a fling that he had.
Unlike most conventional autobiographies, she has written her book as a series of letters. The 'Fatty' in question is Jennifer Saunders, her partner in crime in a lot of her comedy work. Strangely, considering the title, not that many letters are actually addressed to her, the majority are written to her late father, who committed suicide when she was nineteen. Generally the letters are written chronologically, so letters about memories of her childhood come first, but she intersperses these with letters to her nieces and nephews who would not have been born then, or to friends. This brings the book more up to date during these periods briefly, so you don't get too bogged down in the pre-comedy days. In fact I enjoyed the childhood memories more than the Comic Strip memories, Dawn writes amusingly and engagingly. I don't think the book is laugh out loud funny, but it did make me smile with her self-deprecating humour. At times I was also moved, especially with some of the letters to her father, the pain she and her family went through after his death is evident, and she is anguished that he suffered to, and hurt that he left them. Also, an open letter to her adoptive daughter Billie about her birth mother (no identities revealed obviously) and how she gave her up because she loved her so much, was also very moving.
Whilst coming across as a nice person and the sort of person you enjoy meeting up for a drink or meal with, Dawn also acknowledges her flaws. She gets frustrated when she gets treated as a celebrity, especially when she is attending her daughter's sports events. She does get a bit of a dig in to an ex-boyfriend who did a newspaper interview about their relationship though. I can imagine that would sting. Apart from that she was very frank and open about her relationships (with family and friends, not just boyfriends); obviously there were aspects of her (then) current relationship with Henry that she wanted to keep to herself, and I can respect that.
I really enjoyed the book. I liked the letter format, I thought it was a very good idea as it kept the book flowing, as some autobiographies can be quite dry in the early parts as they re-count their childhood years, and this is one way round that. Dawn writes well, with candour and humour, whilst the letters can make you smile or bring a lump to your throat. Obviously fans of her work will want to read this anyway (if they haven't already) and I do think it is one that many others will enjoy as the format makes it easy to get into. Some letters are longer than others, but at no point was I mentally willing for her to 'get on with it' as I have with some autobiographies.
The RRP is £7.99 for my paperback copy, but I am sure you will be able to purchase it cheaper online. My copy had less than 400 pages, and the letter format made it a quicker read than usual as you lose space as each letter starts a new page.
Summary: A unique autobiogrpahy.
- Confessions of a Bad Mother - Stephanie Calman
- John Lennon: The Life - Philip Norman
- The line, the Itch and the Rabbit Hole - David Jester
- Disco Bedsit Queen - Tracey Thorn
- Beyond the Call of Duty - Roger Penn
- Punished - Vanessa Steel
- Dungeon of Death: Chris Benoit and the Hart Family Curse - Scott Keith
- Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens - Lisa Hilton
- Moonwalk - Michael Jackson
- So Much To Tell - Valerie Grove