The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant – Review


ladynextdoorThe Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant

By Michel Tremblay

Genre: Fiction

My first encounter with the genius that is Michel Tremblay came in the theatre while watching Les Belles Soeurs and from the moment the curtain rose. His characters are quirky and often very witty, they are women that you wish you shared a neighborhood. Once the “BINGO” scene happened I could do nothing but love Tremblay and his cornucopia of Quebecois women.

The next time I encountered Tremblay it was a beautiful tribute to his mother that passed away before she had the opportunity to any of Michel Tramblay’s works enacted on the stage. For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again is a stellar work of art that shows a man’s love for his mother. Since seeing this show I’ve wanted to read a novel composed by Tremblay. If you ever get the opportunity to see anything by Tremblay take it…at any cost (if I can out to the Shaw Festival this summer I will be seeing Albertine in Five Times).

When I saw that The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant was going to be a part Canada Reads 2009 I was thrilled to read the novel. It was full of the same wonderful characters I came to love on the stage. I will admit that there were times that I had difficulty getting with the novel but once I got over the barrier I devoured the novel. I enjoyed the novel but I wouldn’t say it should your first encounter with Canadian literature because there is better stuff out there.

Michel Tremblay is one of Canada’s often forgot literary treasures and shouldn’t be left behind with other great Canadian French writers like Roch Carrier. The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant is a novel that should have been part of Canada Reads many times over but it’s not the novel that should get the accolades of THE novel all Canadians should read but the author is someone everyone should, no needs, to discover.

What others are say about The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant:

Roughing it in the Books gives info on the cover and a review worth reading.

The Keepin’ it Real Book Club seems to have similar thoughts as I did on this novel.

Reader of the Stack has some insightful comments on the novel.

As usual if you’re interested in having your reviewed listed here send an email to


Weekly Review # 10

This past was a rather eventful week in the Canadian book work with Canada Reads 2009 having taken place.  As usual I had a lot of fun listening to the panelists discuss the books up for the top prize.  Now I’m sure many people are hitting the book stores and local libraries for copies to the winning novel, The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.  Now that Canada Reads is over for another year CBC has finally come to their senses and have started a book club, which so far seems fantastic!

While being engrossed with the Canada Reads contest I also got some reading completed this week.  I finished Michel Tremblay’s The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant which I had difficulties getting into but in the end I’ve enjoyed the novel.  That makes for three books completed for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.  I also have the other two novels that were on the Canada Reads 2009 short list.

I also finished my first giveaway and there were some great novels suggested by those that entered the giveaway.  From that list I’ve already gone out and purchased one of the books on the list, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson and I’m really excited to get reading this book.  But before I get to that one I have a couple other books that I’m reading right now for book club purposes, Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh and An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

This past week I also managed to finish the graphic novel Watchmen.  It was alright but I’m sure I’ll give a more substantial review than that later this week.  I wanted to finish it before I watched the movie this weekend.  And I found the movie to be mediocre at best but that’s also for another time.

This week I hope to get An Abundance of Katherines finished as well as finishing John Updike’s Rabbit Run, which has been put on the back burner for a while so I hope to get the last few pages finished this week.

Until next time happy reading.

Canada Reads – Day 4

cov-ladynextdoor-outToday I morn the loss of Michel Tremblay’s novel The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant from the possible contenders in Canada Reads 2009.  I know that I said I mentioned in the comments of yesterdays post but since then I’ve read more of the book and I’m loving the characters in the novel just as I love many of the other characters Tremblay has introduced me to.  The final decision came down to Sarah Slean (how could you Sarah?) because a tie needed to be broken between Tremblay’s book and The Outsider by Gil Andamson.

I’m going to start today with a bit of a rant, so excuse me for a moment while I get this off my chest.  We’re getting near the end of Canada Reads 2009, only one day to go, and Jian Ghomese is still asking everyone, still in the running, to summarise their novel.  I think the people that are listening have heard enough about these book and do not need to be told again what the novels still in contention are about.  I really hope that last two don’t have to do this again tomorrow.

The big question today was what book brought you something new, something you didn’t know or a new experience?  Great question posed by a great host.  It seemed that many learned something, not surprisingly from Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes.  I would have to say that I learned the most from this novel as well, I had no idea that Freetown in Sierra Leone was founded by free slaves that got to Nova Scotia/New Brunswick from the USA.  I found the final chapters of that novel to be the most interesting.

Others answered the question by saying they learned a lot about Sarnia from Fruit.  But then again who knows all that much about Sarnia to begin with?  Ghomese’s question caused everyone to do some thinking and really got me thinking.  I didn’t really think that learning something new is all that important when suggesting a novel to a nation.  I tend to think that the more someone knows about a particular subject the more they would get out of a novel dealing with that subject.  I think I would have got more out of The Book of Negroes if I knew more about it before reading it.

I’m now curious to see if The Outlander will come back from it’s near defeat today.  I’m really interested to see what happens tomorrow and which two books will be the ones duking it out for the coveted title.  Now this probably isn’t the best reason for not wanting a book to win but I don’t want The Book of Negroes to win because it’s already got so much attention, I’d like to see something else get the spot light introducing Canadians to a new book.

Canada Reads – Day 3

cov-mercy-outWell the third day started off with the revelation of the vote that took place at the end of yesterdays episode. And with three votes David Adams Richards’ Mercy Among the Children is the first book to be proverbially put out to pasture. This is the book that scares me the most to read, from what I’ve heard on Canada Reads 2009 it’s not sounding that all intriguing. But I’ll still be sure to read it anyway.

Now today’s discussion that provided the best discussion was when Jian Ghomeshi asked the panelists what character resonated the most with them. I was a little surprised that many had to say that that character was either Peter Peddington from Fruit or Aminata from The Book of Negroes. From what I’ve been hearing from the panelists they didn’t seem to like Fruit but I could be wrong.

It’s hard to say what’s going to happen tomorrow but we do know that book number two will be out of the running. The two books I’m most rooting for The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (not really for the book because it’s becoming difficult to keep reading, rather, for Michel Tremblay’s other works they are fantastic) and Fruit are still in the running. The book that seems to be getting the least attention is The Outlander and I’m not sure why that is. I’m really keen to read that book, it’ll probably be the next one I get in the group.

Well, I’m off to finish The Book of Negroes. Only 70 pages to go and it’s great, but I don’t think it’s the book that all of Canada should read.

Canada Reads – Day 2

When Canada Reads starts up it seems to be over just as quickly. With that in mind I try to savor every minute of the debates. Today, again, I feel that we have a wonderful group of people on the panel and I really like Nicolas Campbell’s strategy.

In day two there seemed to be a lot of discussion about Fruit. Now I don’t have a problem with that but most of the discussion seemed negative. Now Campbell and some others on the panel don’t think Fruit is a book they couldn’t recommend to everyone. This would be a down side to the book, but I think that the Canada Reads 2009 pick should be something that challenges readers in someway, which I think Fruit does. The concept of talking nipples is fantastic and it’s the most memorable part of the novel so I’m not really sure why Jen Sookfong Lee thinks she needs to mention that all the time.

Nicolas Campbell has a wonderful strategy. His strategy, and he’s said it himself, is to draw the panelists attention away from his book (The Outlander). I guess that’s because if you don’t talk about it the negatives cannot come out. But I’m alright with that, from what I’ve heard about the book I’m really excited to read it now.

The first blow came at the expense of David Adams Richards’ Mercy Among the Children. This seems to be getting quite a bit of negative press on Canada Reads, almost as much as Fruit. It has been getting so much negative feedback that I’m not really looking forward to the book, it’s getting to the point where it’s looking like reading it will be a daunting task. I’ll try not to let that bother me when I get to it

So, where does this take us on the Canada Reads 2009 journey? Well, the panelists voted for the first book out. We aren’t going to find out exactly what that book is until the beginning of tomorrows instalment. I’m afraid that the first book out will be Fruit by Brian Francis but I hope it’s not. I really think the panelists need to see the book for what it is and appreciate the quirky qualities it possesses. It also seems that The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay is leading the pack, which is great. The characters are wonderful, and I don’t think Tremblay could write a bad character if he wanted even the worst person he’d write about would have some kind of endearing quality.

It’ll be interesting to see where the panelists take us tomorrow.

Canada Reads 2009 – Day 1

Today was the first day of Canada Reads 2009, is there a better day in the year?  I have my doubts.  It’s always exciting to hear what the defenders of each book has to say.  In case you don’t already know here are the books and their defender:

  1. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill defended by Avi Lewis
  2. The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay defended by Anne-Marie Withenshaw
  3. Fruit by Brian Francis defended by Jen Sookfong Lee
  4. Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards defended by Sarah Slean
  5. The Outlander by Gil Adamson defended by Nicholas Campbell

As seems to be the most logical question when trying to select a book a whole nation, particularly one as vast Canada, should those defending the books were ask what makes a novel great, and why you would want all Canadians to read it?  This is a great question and it has made me think about what it is that makes a book stand out for me.  I really don’t know what it is, but I think there are couple of things that definitely contribute to greatness in novels.

First I think it has be entertaining.  If the novel isn’t able to keep my attention, and this can be difficult sometimes, I cannot finish it.  So, I guess this would be the most important aspect in making a great novel.  It also has to evoke some kind of emotion.  The books that are most memorable are ones that have stirred strong emotions.  I’m sure each of you could think of at least one thing that makes for a great novel.  What would that be?

It seems from the way the discussion progressed today that The Book of Negroes may not be the hands down winner I thought it would be.  When asked which novels were the ones they liked the least all but two were mentioned by the panelist.  Right now it seems that the front runners may be The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (which is one of the two books I’m really rooting for) and The Outlander.

Tomorrow the voting starts.  Each book is eliminated until the winner is named.  I’m really excited to see who will join the pantheon of past winners.  Tomorrow should be another fascinating debate, until then keep reading.

Canada Reads 2009

For a fan of Canadian literature and the CBC what could be more exciting than the beginning of another season of Canada Reads?  Nothing!  I can feel the buzz in the air and the constant firing of the synapses.  This comes with only one regret, not having read all the books for this round of Canada Reads.

The 2009 selections come with a couple of books I’ve wanted to read and some I’ve never considered reading even though I’ve come across them many times.  I’ve already finished one of the books for this season and have another two on the go, one of which I’m past the half way mark.

Again just to recap here are the books for the 2009 take on Canada Reads:

  1. Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes
  2. Michel Tremblay’s The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant
  3. Brian Francis’ Fruit
  4. David Adams Richards’ Mercy Among the Children
  5. Gil Adamson’s The Outlander

Now, I’m not entirely sure what is more exciting, Christmas Eve or Canada Reads Eve?  I’m really excited to see what the panel has to say tomorrow.

It’s no surprise to many of you blog fans out there that actually keep an eye on the Canada Reads competition that Fruit seems to be the underdog that everyone is rooting for.  At this point, it’s the only one I’ve finished but I did love it you can find my full review here.  But I do have The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant on the go as well as The Book of Negroes.  I’m enjoying both these books but because I love work Tremblay has done for the stage I’d really like to see his book be victorious.  So, basically I’m torn between Tremblay’s and Francis’ novels.

I also want to remind those of you that may not have noticed yet that I’m going to be giving away a copy of the winning novel Canada Reads 2009 because, well, it’s the book deemed a must read by Canadians.  Feel free to enter it’s a giveaway open to everyone and anyone.  All the best to those that enter, the winner will be selected Saturday morning.

I hope there are others out there as excited about the week ahead as I am!

My First Giveaway!

This is part of the book giveaway carnival being hosted over at bookroom reviews.

So I thought I would give this a shot. I’ve been the recipient of a few prizes when others have done giveaways and thought it’s been more than time for me to host one of my own. I’ve been trying to think of the best thing I could giveaway. After giving it significant thought I’ve decided to giveaway a copy of the winning novel in this years Canada Reads 2009, or if you already have the novel you may select one of the other contenders.

To celebrate great Canadian writing you need to tell me what your favorite Canadian novel is and if you really want you can tell me why it’s your favorite.

The novels up for Canada Reads this year are:
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay
Fruit by Brian Francis
Mercy Among the Children by David Adams
The Outlander by Gil Adamson

Canada Reads runs on CBC from March 2-6 so the winner will be selected the following day. All the best to everyone who enters. I must also say I hope to hear about some great Canadian novels that I haven’t read yet.

Let the Games Begin

Wow, it’s that time of the year again. CBC is gearing up for it’s yearly Canada Reads competition. I always look forward to debates that happen on CBC radio 1 to see what the defenders of each book has to say about the novels. When I get a chance to read the selections I’m often pleasantly surprised how wonderful the books really are.

I must say I wasn’t a huge fan of Canadian fiction until just a few years ago when I took a Canadian Literature course at the University of Manitoba. After reading doing the required reading for the course I couldn’t get enough of the writers from my country. Canada has some wonderful authors and I try to find more of them yearly.

Well, I walked into The Book Vault yesterday to pick up the books that I had ordered for the book club at work (John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines). Before leaving home I took a look at the list of books up for Canada Reads 2009 and decided I would pick up two of the books up for debate:

bookofnegroesSince this book won the Giller prize I’ve been drawn to it. Then the book continued on to win the Common Wealth Writers’ Prize for best overall book. So I thought I would pick up this book and attempt to get it read for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge. The motivation became even greater since it became a selection for Canada Reads.
I must say I’m trilled to be reading this book and without having read any of the books I’m kind of thinking this will be hands down the winner of Canada Reads 2009.

ladynextdoorSince the first time I watched Les Belles Soeurs I fell madly in love with the dramatic writings of Michel Tremblay. And since that first encounter with his work I try as hard as I can to see everything he’s written for the stage. I’ve never read any of his fiction and seeing The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant on the Canada Reads list I couldn’t resist reading this. So I grabbed this one as well.

After reaching for my copy of The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill I looked up and saw another book on the list for this seasons Canada Reads 2009. So, I made the mistake of pulling it off the shelf .

fruitOn my cover of the book just below Fruit it said “a novel about a boy and his nipples” after reading that I knew I had to see what this book was about. Upon turning the book over and reading the very first sentence taken from a review published by Entertainment Weekly I new I had to read this book. The review stated, “Peter Paddington is a 13-year-0ld, fat, gay cross-dresser with two selfish, annoying older sisters and an overbearing mother” nothing more needed to be said I knew right there that I wanted to read Brian Francis’ book.

There are two other books in the contest but I didn’t pick those up so for the time being I’ll just wait to see what the debaters have to say about them before I rush out to pick them up.

Weekly Geeks #5 – I’ve Got a Story

This week we are to write about a different form of story telling for Weekly Geeks. When I first thought about it I thought this is going to be very difficult but then I remember my favorite form of story telling. Now that I’m back in Canada and more specifically in Stratford I can enjoy this other mode of story telling more than I could in Korea.

Theatre has always been a form of story telling that I love.  This is one mode of telling a tale that can be done using various genres.  Why since being home I’ve already watched my first show at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Cabaret.  The show was fantastic and I would place it in the top three shows of all time.  As with Cabaret you can watch musicals, many of which are now being adopted to the silver screen, but there are also drama, comedy, and mystery.  Not only are these separate genres but they are also sub-genres for the musical and non-musical types.

I could go on and on about theatre and how fantastic it is, I’ve been involved in theatre in many ways and have watched many shows.  But I don’t think I’ll go into all of them.  But I’ll give you a list of some of my all time favorites:

  • Anything by William Shakespeare
  • Cabaret book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and music by John Kander
  • Man of La Mancha book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, and music by Mitch Leigh
  • Proof by David Auburn
  • Les Belle Soeurs by Michel Tremblay
  • Equus by Peter Shaffer

I’m sure many of you have seen a show or two that you’ve enjoyed.  What are some of your favorites?