I picked this book up years ago, because I’m a big fan of ‘The Fast Show’, even if the ‘Does My Bum Look Big in This?’ sketches aren’t among my favourites. Arabella Weir is a very capable comedian and this shows through in her writing, with several scenes in the book provoking audible snorts. The question, however, is whether a fairly limited premise – a protagonist with cripplingly low self esteem – can comfortably support an entire novel. For the first hundred or so pages of Does My Bum Look Big In This?, it doesn’t seem like this is the case, but there is more character development and action in the second half, meaning that there is less reliance on the tiring joke of an attractive woman who just can’t see that’s what she is.
I think my key difficulty with Does My Bum Look Big In This?, however, is the fact that it’s a little too realistic to be enjoyable reading. It’s hard to be amused by a self-destructive internal monologue that bears a little too much resemblance to my own negative thought patterns. While I can definitely appreciate the accuracy of the protagonist’s voice, and the consistency of her characterisation, I didn’t gain a lot of enjoyment from the novel. Some things just hit a little too close to home.
That said, I think that a lot of fans of humorous chick lit will find plenty to enjoy in Does My Bum Look Big In This? There’s an interesting supporting cast, complete with a caddish ex, a likeable new love interest and a large circle of friends, family, neighbours and workmates. It’s told in diary form, so is a light and easy read, and is laugh-out-loud funny in places. One for readers who can empathise with feelings of insecurity – but perhaps not for readers who are overwhelmed by them.