Review of 'Dear Fatty'

Dear Fatty by Dawn French

dear_fatty.jpg “Dear Fatty” is a memoir from the comedian Dawn French that is told as a series of letters to people that have influenced her life over the years such as her father and the “Fatty” in the title (her long-time comedy partner Jennifer Sanders). There are four picture sections interspersed with the chapters that start with her early life and end with her life as of the publication date (2008) married to Lenny Henry (who she divorced in 2010, she is now married to Mark Bignell). The chapters are filled with memories of her growing up, the tragic suicide of her father when she was 20 years old, her struggles to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, early days as a comedian, time in the comedy group “the Comic Strip” (including the subsequent movies), her huge successes with “French and Saunders” then “The Vicar of Dibley”, and eventually finding happiness in her true love, Lenny. There are the occasional chapters addressed to her idols including The Monkeys as a child and repeated letters to Madonna, an ongoing saga, where she attempts to meet with the rock idol. Throughout the book, it is clear that her strong personality and winning spirit has made her the success she is today. Her willingness to “get stuck in” and work hard to achieve her goals but what is also clear is her enjoyment of live.

This was a bit of a tough read which I find in many memoirs: It is often difficult to get into with memories darting here and there, causing some confusion, but in this case French has done a good job in keeping the stories in the book more or less sequential. There is also, of course, the issue of making sure just enough details are kept to maintain the flow of the book but at the same time not becoming too boring and it is this that occasionally happens here. As you might expect, name-dropping is kept to a minimum which is a tribute to this strong but quite humble woman. It is written largely as she talks, bubbling and fun making it feel like she is just a normal person, with all the faults that entails, that just so happens to have become a success.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-04-10

Genre: Autobiography

Publisher: Century

Publication Date: 2008

ISBN: 9781846053443

Other reviewed books by Dawn French: