Posts Tagged With: Dear Fatty

Dear Fatty by Dawn French

Dawn French is of course well known as one half of the comedy duo French and Saunders (Jennifer Saunders is in fact the “Fatty” referred to in the book’s title).  This is Dawn’s biography of sorts – it is told in the form of various letters to people who have played some role in her life.

Many of the letters are written to her father who committed suicide when Dawn was just 19 years old.  The memories of him and his love have clearly been a huge force in her life and she writes honestly and openly about the good and the bad times she spent with him.  Other letter recipients include her mother, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn’s husband Lenny (Henry), her Best Friend (BF, whose name is never revealed in the book), old schoolfriends, Val Doonican, Madonna and The Monkees.

Some parts of the book read better than others.  The earlier letters, which more or less chart Dawn’s childhood and early family life were not as interesting as the later ones, which tell her life from the age of about 20.

Family is clearly of huge importance to her – when she writes about her parents, husband and daughter and her brother, the love comes shining through and is genuinely touching.  I admired her honesty in talking about a rough patch her marriage went through – she described her whole gamut of emotions, from anger to fear to forgiveness in a way that was easy to empathise with.  Another letter which actually moved me to tears (and highlighted the perils of reading while waiting in a supermarket queue) was the one to her friend Scottie, who died of AIDS – yet she juxtaposes the sadness with a hilarious tale about her mission to scatter Scottie’s ashes in the location he had intended.

Comic relief (no pun intended) is provided through a number of her letters to Madonna (who repeatedly refused to appear on the French and Saunders show) and doting-schoolgirl missives to The Monkees and David Cassidy.  I also enjoyed reading about the early days of the Comic Strip, and her work on The Vicar of Dibley.

Overall, after a slow start, this was an enjoyable read, which perfectly illustrated the warmth and humour for which Dawn French is so much admired and loved.

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Dear Fatty by Dawn French

Dawn French doesn’t need any introduction – she is a well known comedy actress, loved by many, and is most well known for being half of French and Saunders, and as the wonderful Vicar of Dibley.

What surprised me about this autobiography is the fact that the focus isn’t really on her career, and her fame. It’s certainly a large part of the book, outlining her early days in the Comic Strip, the films she took part in, as well as her recent roles.

However, the fascinating aspect of this book is the way that Dawn shares her life growing up, the relationships she’s had, her heartaches and her joys. She fiercely loves her family, her friends, and her colleagues, and that shines through. (However, she most certainly does not like Madonna! ;))

The book is written as a series of letters, to various people.. a large proportion of these are written to her father, and it’s easy to understand why, as he had such an affect on her. One particular letter had me in tears, and I was so glad to see Dawn reaching a type of resolution by the end of the book.. which did make for a good place for it to finish.

Dawn’s voice is obvious in the book, you can almost hear her speaking it in your mind.. in her own unique style. There are serious moments in the book, but the humour that you expect is always there. Who else would write a letter to her niece, talking about her life ahead of her.. including what it may be like to have a big bosom?!

For anyone who has enjoyed watching Dawn French over the years, I would highly recommend this autobiography, not only as a peek into her life, but also as a better understanding of the sort of person she is.

Published by Random House

Hardback 8 Oct 08 / CD 6 Nov 08

Buy At Amazon.co.uk

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