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Jennifer Weiner on Lottie Hazell’s “Piglet”

A Dark, Clever Novel Asks, What Happens When Women Ignore Their Appetites?

“Piglet,” by Lottie Hazell, is a tantalizing layer cake of horror, romance (sort of) and timely questions about the power of appetite.

By Jennifer Weiner

Pity the bookseller who’s got to figure out where to shelve Lottie Hazell’s debut novel, “Piglet.” Its plot — woman learns devastating truth about her fiancé and starts binge-eating as she decides whether to marry him — carries the whiff of a rom-com, the faint pink tinge of “women’s fiction,” the kind of book that gets dismissed as frivolous and small, even though it deals with the topics that loom largest in real life. So is “Piglet” a frothy, fun, forgettable confection, or is it heftier, meatier, the kind of “serious” book that might win prizes, or even male readers?

If I owned a bookstore, I’d hand-sell “Piglet” to everyone. And I’d make a case for shelving it with the horror stories, especially for the scene that unfolds when Piglet’s mom, dad, sister and, eventually, her sister’s boyfriend are enlisted to cram her into her wedding dress, the one wedding expense her working-class father has covered. “‘What’s happened here, Pig?’ her father said, lifting his head in the mirror, not meeting her eyes.” Hazell goes on:

Piglet felt her father’s hand push against her flank, his knuckles hard and swollen with effort.

“You couldn’t have waited, could you?” he said, closing his eyes. “You couldn’t just control yourself, for once?” He shook his head. “You — this dress — greed,” he said, his words failing him in his displeasure. “What is it about you and more, more, more?”

There’s a lot Hazell doesn’t tell us about Piglet. We don’t know her age or her size, her eye color or hair color, or how long she’s been a cookbook editor. We don’t learn her real name until the book’s final pages, and we aren’t told the precise nature of her fiancé’s betrayal at all, which gives the book the feel of an allegory or a fable: Once upon a time, there lived an orphan. A princess. A bride. Or, as Piglet describes herself, “a tall woman with broad shoulders wearing a dress that was designed to make her look smaller than she was.” Read the full review at the New York Times.

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