The World Of Diet, Exercise
The Cinderella Pact
By Sarah Strohmeyer
Dutton, 2006, $24.95
Any woman who has ever played the diet game will relate to this charming, funny and poignant novel.
The protagonist, Nola Devlin, is an overweight, insecure young woman with a double life. By day she is a minor editor for a celebrity magazine, but by night she becomes Belinda Apple, a sleek, sophisticated British peeress who writes a popular advice column. No one, not even her slim, selfish sister or her mother, has an inkling that Nola and Belinda are one and the same.
On a very special day that is about to change lives, Belinda breezily tells her readers how easy it is to lose weight. Nola's two best friends, who have also put on the extra pounds, are inspired by Belinda's advice and persuade the reluctant Nola to join them in a "Cinderella Pact" to regain their formerly svelte bodies.
The two women, an attorney, and a housewife who married a jerk because she thought he was the only one who would have her, embark with Nola on a quest for the beauty they feel lies within them.
As each woman finds her own method of losing, complications arise in their lives. Deb goes for liposuction; Nancy hires a personal trainer and nutritionist; and Nola goes for Weight Watchers. As Nancy's new body begins to take shape, she starts frequenting nightclubs, dressing provocatively and thoroughly enjoying her newfound attractiveness. Deb, the unfulfilled housewife, leaves the man she never loved and finds that she is worthy of better.
"Are there days when I'm hungry?" Nola asks herself. "You bet. There are days when I long for a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich or a Reuben with sauerkraut, fatty corned beef and Russian dressing. Black-forest cake. Unlimited numbers of chocolate-chip cookies. Onion dip and a bag of Ruffles. There are days when I long to just not give a damn. But then I think of Nancy with her expensive, ruthless personal trainer and nutritionist and Deb slicing her body open, and I am filled with resolve. We are going to do this. Once and for all. What started out as a whim is now my mission."
As Belinda's columns become more and more popular, the pressure grows for the editors to meet her. Nola has arranged for her calls to come to a special phone, and has created many answers as to why the elusive Englishwoman is unavailable, but soon her plans begin to unravel.
This lovely little book is chock full of fun, quirky characters and best of all, inspiration for women who are plagued with those extra pounds and have tried many times to rid themselves of them. There are some lessons to be learned here: friendship can get you through the hard times; don't let setbacks get you down; find the best way for you and then resolve to stick to it; don't settle for anything less than the best -- you're worth it.
And by the way, Nola finds love. Ah yes, a happy ending!
B.J. Dunn is a Pinehurst writer.
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