Helen Lederer is best known for her comic acting and has appeared in many successful TV comedy and radio shows. She has also written numerous columns for newspapers and magazines as well as two comedy series which she has starred in. ‘Losing It’ however is her first novel. I’m often a little snobbishly reluctant to read novels written by celebrities and I suspect I may not have picked this up had I not heard Helen Lederer speak at The Hay Festival.
Helen has made it known this book is her way of introducing the world to ‘Mid Lit’ . This is the genre that ‘Losing It’ falls in to. “Literature for people who still have their own veneers”. During her talk she was keen to point out that it’s ‘Mid Lit’ not medieval lit, despite her fondness for The Wife of Bath!
‘Losing It’ is the story of Millie. Millie was once quite a well-known TV and radio personality. Now she is massively in debt, overweight, and alone whilst her daughter is living in Papua New Guinea researching menstrual cycles of teenage girls. She is offered the opportunity to solve all her money troubles by becoming the front woman for a new brand of diet pills. The campaign will be featured in the magazine she writes for. With 3 stone to lose in as many months, and a love of cocktails and chunky kit kats what could possible go wrong?
As you might expect Millie’s path to weight loss is not a straight one. Along the way she visits Papua New Guinea to restore ailing relationships with her daughter. Whilst there she has a ‘moment’ with her daughter’s Pygmie Boyfriend Eugene and manages to eat the sacrificial stew resulting in an episode of uncontrolled bodily functions.
Back in London with her weight greater than before the sacrificial stew incident she has her house feng shuied, she has colonic irrigation (everyday), and she takes up with a trainer who has a particular interest in all things Millie. She also spends 10 days on a retreat in a rambling house somewhere in the middle of nowhere with her friend Florence and newly appointed gurus where she has her vortex unblocked.
“But after a vision which Kahina had experienced on the Heath while walking her beloved dogs, she was soon shown a piece of paper by her central relationship life partner, Ray. The piece of paper it turned out, had information on it that told her the house they were all in now was for sale – and she knew it was a sign.
‘Was the piece of paper from an estate agent with a list of properties on it?’ asked Millie
Kahina confirmed that it was.”
I enjoyed the female camaraderie and support in the story. Despite the crazy nature of some of the characters and relationships and their ulterior motives for supporting Millie’s scheme the women do all come good in the end.
Helen has declared that in writing this book, her aim was to make people laugh on the tube. I’m not sure I actually laughed out loud, but I certainly had some inward chuckles so I think I can safely say she has achieved her aim.
For an easy summer read, you could do worse than ‘Losing It’.