Hysterical Blondeness
by Suzanne Macpherson, contemporary (2006)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-077500-9


Hysterical Blondeness is a very entertaining story that has me laughing out loud many times, but it's not a good story in any way. The premise is one that has been done many times before. I'm sure you have read at least one story about that fat girl who loses weight and becomes beautiful in order to get the hunky guy only to realize that her male best friend is the one for her all along. But the story is pretty messed up thanks to its confusing message to the reader and the way the heroine is so silly for so long.

Patricia "Patti" Stillwell is a plus-sized woman who is stuck in a dead-end job at the department store called Nordquist's. Her best friend is called Pinky and the two of them spend their time disparaging skinny and beautiful women while stuffing calorie-laden food down their gullets because, as the wise men would say, if you're going to be fat you may as well do your best to also feel superior to those skinny twigs around you. Not that Patti feels superior to those twigs: inside, she wants to be thin and beautiful. She also wants to marry the playboy manager of the department store, Brad Nordquist. No kidding, she actually wants to marry that guy for real because she's convinced that she's in love with that man who has never spoken to her before. I spend some time assuming that this humorous woman is just being tongue-in-cheek when she says that she wants to marry Brad, so you can only imagine my dismay when I realize that she's dead serious.

When Patti signs up to be a guinea pig for the trial of a new weight-loss drug, not only does she lose ten pounds after popping the pill, she also becomes blonde. Yes, she's now blonde everywhere. Sure enough, she's dating and flying high in Brad's glitzy world. Meanwhile, her landlord and male buddy Paul Costello begins to feel even a little jealous as he realizes that there is a very real possibility that he will lose Patti for good to Brad. What will happen now?

For a while, the story is going quite well. Then Ms Macpherson decides to turn Brad into a one-dimensional jerk and Patti into a clueless twit whose insistence on marrying Brad destroys every shred of her claim to being an intelligent woman. Worse, Ms Macpherson also shoves down my throat the message that Paul will love Patti even when she's no longer blonde or skinny. Is Ms Macpherson joking? Paul doesn't even notice that Patti is a desirable woman until she accidentally lets him see that she is blonde downstairs as well as upstairs. What is Ms Macpherson so afraid of? That the reader, lulled into complacence by the fantasy of a fat woman losing weight and winning the cute guy, becomes homicidal when she closes the book and realizes that she is still overweight? Is the transparently insincere message about how a woman is always loved for her inner beauty supposed to placate those homicidal readers? Come on!

As I've said, this book is very funny, however, and I actually have a good time reading it. No matter how silly Patti can be, I actually feel quite fond of her, a little, because she is funny and smart at the start of the story. Also, I can identify with her wish to become thin and beautiful as well as her desire to explore the possibilities that life has to offer now that she has achieved her wish. I really wish Ms Macpherson hasn't tried to pull a fast on me by pretending that men will continue to adore Patti even if she's fat and brunette again. Please - stuff that PC nonsense at the faces of folks attending some feel-good seminar. Me, I just want to know where I can get my hands on those pills.

Rating: 70


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