by Dawn French
Publication date: November 6th 2008
Dawn French is one of the greatest comedy actresses of our time, wtih a career that has spanned nearly three decades, encompassing a vast and brilliant array of characters. Loved for her irreverant humour, Dawn has achieved massive mainstream success while continuing to push boundaries and challenge stereotypes. Here, in her autobiography, she describes the twists and turns of the journey that would eventually establish her as a, perhaps unlikely – but nevertheless genuine, national treasure.
Dawn first appeared on the British entertainment scene as part of the groundbreaking alternative comedy group, the Comic Strip, marking a radical departure from the more traditional comedy acts of the time. Then, later came the all-female Girls On Top, which teamed Dawn with Jennifer Saunders, Ruby Wax and Tracy Ullman and firmly established women in British comedy.
As part of the wildly successful and much loved duo French and Saunders, Dawn helped create a repetoire of brilliantly observed recurring characters, parodying popular culture and impersonating everything from Madonna and Harry Potter to The Exorcist.
Dawn’s more recent role in the Vicar of Dibley again has showcased not only her talent but also her ability to take a controversial and topical issue and make it mainstream – and funny.
From her early years as an RAF child to her flat-sharing antics with Jennifer Saunders, from her outspoken views on sizism to her marriage to Lenny Henry, Dear Fatty will chronicle the extraordinary, hilarious rise of a complex, dynamic and unstoppable woman.
I like Dawn French so even though this memoir is a little old now, I thought I’d give it a try. I was a little disappointed to find out that Dawn didn’t narrate the audiobook herself but she explained her reasoning at the beginning with a little introduction and I can completely appreciate that.
This book is formatted as a series of letters to different people. This is a fun concept at first but I can’t lie, as the book went on I didn’t really like this format because in most cases I didn’t have any idea who those people were. Some are written to friends and family, some are written to celebrities, but we never really learn much about them or why Dawn has chosen to write to them. I think if you are a Dawn French mega fan or just know a lot about her already, this might not be a problem, but for a casual fan it did feel like I missing something, on the outside of Dawn’s circle.
As well as the format, I found that the subject matter wasn’t really to my tastes and there was a lot of unnecessary detail that I didn’t care all that much about. I felt that some of the more important or deeper topics such as racism and IVF were brushed over but then a huge amount of attention given to topics that felt a little mundane like snogging boys in the playground. Towards the end of the book, I actually gave up and realised this wasn’t for me.
I think this book would be a great read for someone who knows a lot about Dawn French, her friends and family and celebrities she is close to. I’m upset not to have enjoyed this one, but know there will many who enjoy this!
Overall rating: I really wanted to like Dawn French’s memoir, ‘Dear Fatty’, but unfortunately it wasn’t to my tastes. I imagine this is a great read for some, but this was a 1 star read for me.
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