Cruise With an Adorable Fat Girl
by Bernice Bloom
Genre: Health & Fitness/Weight Loss
Mary Brown – our full-figured heroine – is off on a cruise. It’s the trip of a lifetime…featuring eat-all-you-can buffets and a trek through Europe with a 96-year-old widower called Frank and a flamboyant Spanish dancer called Juan Pedro in attendance. Then there’s the desperately handsome captain, the appearance of an ex-boyfriend on the ship, the time she’s mistaken for a Hollywood film star in Lisbon and tonnes of clothes shopping all over Europe.
A Quick Chat with Author Bernice Bloom
FD: Welcome to Nesie’s Place, Bernice! Thank you for taking a few minutes from your blog tour to talk with us. Tell readers where you’re from?
BB: Hello – I’m from London. I was born in Putney, in south west London.
FB: The Adorable Fat Girl Series is wonderful! What inspired the series?
BB: Thank you!! The series was inspired by the fact that I just never saw that many overweight women in literature. They would appear occasionally as the fat best friend, or something, but not the main character, so I decided to give it a go. Being overweight is common to so many people and can cause real issues and affect self-confidence, self-esteem and can impact on your ability to enjoy life properly, if you’re not careful. With Mary, I don’t think the fact that she’s overweight overwhelms the stories (I hope not – there’s much more to her than being fat) but is ever-present and does have a psychological impact on her (which makes her a more complex and interesting character), as well as the practical things like finding clothes to fit, seat belts not going round her etc etc
FD: Does the series continue on after Cruise With An Adorable Fat Girl?
BB: Yes, she gets back from the cruise and feels so overweight and awful (she’s gone over 20 stone for the first time which drives her nuts), so she decides she needs to exercise. She knows she’ll never be able to run or do aerobics, so decides to have a go at yoga. She thinks it will be easy – just lie on your back and point your toes a bit and you’re done! But she finds out it’s a bit harder than that, and along the way has quite an adventure. She signs up for a weekend retreat, packs up assorted snacks and heads for the countryside to get in touch with her chi and her third eye. It features frantic chickens, an unexpected mud bath, men in loose-fitting shorts and no pants, calamitous headstands, a new bizarre friendship with a yoga guru and a quick hospital trip.
FD: Who designs the covers?
BB: A lovely lady who I met by chance. She does all my book covers for me.
FD: What genres do you enjoy reading and what are you reading now?
BB: I usually read light-hearted rom coms. I’m reading a Sophie Kinsella novel at the moment, called ‘My Not So Perfect Life’ (it’s good fun but everyone is super slim and gorgeous which is annoying me!) I also like Lianne Moriaty a lot, and Marian Keyes. But – again – all skinny people everywhere you look. Those with weight issues are trying to squeeze into their size 10 jeans. THAT’S NOT A WEIGHT ISSUE. Poor old Mary Brown can’t find any jeans in any shop that fit. When she goes on her yoga retreat she has to buy a size 26 leotard for goodness sake.
FD: How do you relax and have fun?
BB: I enjoy doing yoga (unlike Mary!) and try to work out regularly. I LOVE reading. Like most writers, I read a ridiculous amount. I also enjoy the cinema and the theatre. Fairly normal things, to be honest…I’m going out for dinner with friends tonight, then meeting another group of friends for drinks tomorrow night – all the very normal things that everyone does. The only difference is that I spend all my time staring at everyone – what are they doing, how are they moving, how do they talk to one another…looking for inspiration for the books!
FD: What are your current projects?
BB: I’m working on a book called : “Mysterious Funeral with An Adorable Fat Girl” at the moment, and it’s going brilliantly. I’m getting really excited while I’m writing it!!
In the book, Mary gets a note inviting her to a funeral, but she doesn’t know who the deceased is. She’s told that only six people have been invited. When she arrives in a remote village in Wales the night before the funeral she discovers that none of the people invited knows each other. None of them knew the deceased.
Why have they been invited? None of them has any idea.
Then deceased’s family turn up, trying to find out why these six people have been invited and not them.
What’s going on??
Mary has to find out…
FD: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
BB: This is from: “Cruise with an Adorable Fat Girl”: Mary Brown goes on a cruise and meets an incredible man called Frank who is on the cruise to go back to Tunisia where he lost his two great friends in the war. He wants to pay tribute to them before he dies. He and Mary strike up a lovely (but unusual) friendship on board the ship. Earlier in the day she had spotted an ex-boyfriend called Simon on board. She dashed off and hid when she saw him because she had finished the relationship with him years before, telling him that she was desperately ill with leprosy and had to leave the country.
In this scene, Frank goes off to bed, and Mary’s left, wondering what to do with her evening on the ship…eager not to bump into Simon again, but not quite ready to go to her cabin…
Chapter Ten: Drama in the theatre
I watched Frank and Janette go, as Captain Homarus went back to work and Edith and Malcolm headed off to bed. I thought about everything he had said. It was hard to imagine what he had been through…what traumas and difficulties he must have endured. It was kind of weird that someone alive today had been through all that. His experiences felt like they should be trapped in the pages of a history book, not living in the memory of that lovely, softly-spoken man.
I left the table and wandered through to the bar area. It was very busy, and getting busier all time, with couples in their finery coming in after dinner, and groups of newly-established friends gathering at tables. I didn’t feel like going back to the cabin just yet, so I took a seat on a bar stool.
“Everything OK, Madam,” said one of the crew, seeing me sitting alone.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I said.
“Can I get you anything? A drink?”
“I’ll have a gin and tonic please,” I said. I didn’t particularly want a drink, but turning one down was beyond me.
The waiter brought me my drink and I suddenly felt quite lonely, and a little lost. I seemed to be the only person sitting on my own. I’m usually really good at making friends but it felt like everyone else was in a couple, and quite settled in their own company. It didn’t feel like I could go charging up to them, introduce myself and sit down. I sipped my drink and decided I should walk around for a bit, then I’d head to bed.
I wandered through the small art shop where people were browsing and commenting on the art and how much they liked it. The only thing that stood out to me was a bronze sculpture of a ballerina. I thought it would look nice in my flat. I turned it over in my hands; it was cool and heavy. The price tag underneath said £3600. Whaaaat? Who would pay that for a sculpture? I wouldn’t pay that much for a car.
How did these people have so much money? Where did they make it? I walked out of the shop and past the pub which was playing some sports match that had everyone cheering wildly.
Next to the pub was a small theatre that I’d seen earlier in the day. It looked prettier at night, all lit up and with people all dressed up, sipping champagne in the boxes and settling down to watch a play. I quite fancied going in, but I didn’t want to see some desperately dull play by some worthy, philosophical type – I just wasn’t in the mood.
“What’s on tonight?” I asked the guy on the door.
“It’s a medley of songs and dance routines…just a load of fun,” he said.
“Oh, that sounds perfect. Do I need a ticket or anything? Or can I just come in?”
“Just come in…you’re more than welcome,” he said. “Take a seat anywhere. It starts in five minutes.”
I settled myself into a seat by the gangway and sipped my gin while waiting for the curtain to go up. People were continuing to come into the theatre and the gentle murmur of voices soothed me as I sat there in quiet contemplation. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed.
The lights began to dim and I looked round to see how full the theatre was….and that’s when I saw him. Shit! Striding into the theatre alone, dressed up to the nines in his tuxedo…Simon. Oh my God. It was definitely him…there was no doubt about it. I recognised the way he pushed one hand deep into his pocket as he walked. The slightly mechanical movements…like he was being controlled by a giant puppet master. There was always something so unnatural about him. I dropped my head so he wouldn’t see me, and sunk down in my seat. There was no way I could leave without him seeing me, but – at the same time – there was every chance of him seeing me if I stayed where I was. I had no idea what to do.
I glanced over to see where he was sitting, and I’m sure he saw me. He did a dramatic double-take just as the lights went down. Christ, what now? There was a door to the right of me that was marked ‘authorised personnel only’. Under the cover of darkness, I sneaked out of my seat and peeled the door open, sneaking through it into a corridor full of dancers. Honestly, there were dancers everywhere, dressed up in fabulous sequined leotards and feather headdresses.
“You’re not dressed,” said a man in a tight blue catsuit. “What the hell?”
“I know. I’m late,” I said, shuffling from foot to foot, afraid to announce that I wasn’t in the cast at all incase he made me go back through the door.
“Damian….one of the larger dancers here needs dressing,” said the man, wiggling off towards the stage, while two wardrobe assistants grabbed me and began undressing me. There was a great deal of sighing and muttering as they surveyed the racks of clothes for something for me to wear. I tried to insist that I could just sit in the dressing room and didn’t have to be dressed up at all, but this clearly wasn’t an option.
“With four dancers ill we need everyone we can find on stage tonight.”
“Right, OK,” I said, as they wrapped me in blue sequined robes and pinned my hair up, attaching feathers and jewels. It looked quite good by the time they’d finished. So good, in fact, that I completely forgot that there was no way I could go anywhere near the stage for the simple reasons that: (a) I couldn’t dance and (b) I didn’t know any of the choreography.
“This way,” he called.
I could hear that the performance had begun, with loud, music hall songs being belted out on the stage, and the sound of footsteps as the dancers tap danced through their routines.
“You’re on next,” said a behind-the-scenes assistant, leading me through to the edge of the stage. The headdress was so bloody heavy. I had no idea how I was supposed to dance in it.
“Good luck,” said the guy, pulling back the curtain a little for me to go on. “When they sing ‘arimbo, arimbo’ that’s when you pull off your top to reveal your tassled nipples.”
“That’s when I what?” I said, regarding him with a mixture of alarm and confusion.
“Go!” he said. I strode onto the stage, trying to keep my head upright so the damn headdress wouldn’t come tumbling off, and trying to do some sort of steps that could be described as being in any way dance-like. The guy in the blue catsuit looked at me like I was insane as I danced around on the spot, clicking my fingers and stamping my feet, while all the other dancers moved together in a lovely rhythmical dance that they had clearly been practising for months and which I could in no way hope to pick up.
Then, it happened. “Ariba, Ariba!” came the shout, and four of the dancers pulled off their tops. I just looked at them…wide mouthed and disbelieving. I turned out towards the crowd and saw Simon. His eye caught mine and he stood up.
“Oh my God – Mary Brown – it’s you. It’s a miracle!” he shouted. “I thought you were dying of leprosy.”
“No, I’m better,” I shouted back, as the headdress slipped over my eyes. “The leprosy has all gone.”
FD: Where can readers find you online?
BB: My website should be up and running in the next few weeks (www.bernicebloom.com), then I’m on
FD: If you could only write one more book, what would it be?
BB: Oh no – just one? That’s hard.
I’d love to take everything I’ve learned from studying people for the Fat Girl books to produce a great book full of tips, advice and help for people who are overweight. I’d love to put together proper research, and create a really helpful book, told through a strong narrative and great characters
FD: Many thanks for visiting with us today, Bernice. Continued success to you!
Don’t forget to enter Bernice’s giveaway below for a jewelry set she personally designed!
Giveaway – Win a Daisy Bracelet and Earring set created by Bernice Bloom (Open Internationally).
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