Early last year, I read and loved The Knock-Off by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza. It was deliciously chick-lity (no bad thing in these parts) with a decidedly adult outlook on life, love and work. In many ways, this was the book that reignited my love for the genre.
But I completely forgot to keep an eye out for any follow-up novels from this delightful duo.
So when Fitness Junkie appeared on my radar (thanks in large part to Catherine @ The Gilmore Guide to Books), I was very excited.
And it delivered in so many ways!
Janey Sweet and her childhood best friend, Beau, have started a couture wedding gown business, B. Janey’s the business brains behind the operation, while Beau comes up with the incredible designs that make their gowns the champagne standard for brides. Beau has become increasingly obsessed with size – his gowns no longer come in sizes bigger than a 6. After a tumultuous year, Janey is a little heavier than she used to be and Beau is horrified when she is photographed enjoying a bruffin (a brioche muffin) in the front row at Fashion Week. Beau is blunt: lose 30lbs or Janey is out at B.
Janey finds herself with all the time in the world to follow every crazy health and fitness fad out there: eating nothing but clay, a barre fitness class where tiny ballerinas hurl abuse at you, water with a single stem of broccoli in it. The list goes on. Her quest for wellness brings her into the orbit of Stella, an actual shaman, and Sara Strong, who has come up with the most perfect solution called simply The Workout.
As Janey comes to terms with her own body, she has to decide what to do about her friendship with Beau and what that could mean for her business.
Listen, I recently went to cancel my gym membership and found that the location had moved and I didn’t even know it. So one might say that I’m not leading a super active lifestyle. I wondered if this book would have anything for me, besides some serious eye rolling.
Oh but it did!
For one thing, I will always get behind a heroine who is in charge of her own destiny. A woman who is in love with her work, who has built something of worth, and doesn’t necessarily know who she is without this work to define her. I’m always about a book where the main relationship isn’t necessarily romantic but no less serious. Often friend breakups are more devastating than romantic ones and Sykes and Piazza lean in on this angle HARD.
I also really appreciate a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This book is definitely glossy – there is the fashion angle of course, and Janey herself comes from money (her family has a chocolate empire!). But that allows the book to have fun – to throw in a thinly veiled Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracy Anderson dynamic that had me turning page after page.
For a book about fitness, I found that this book had a positive body message. There’s one point where Janey’s other best friend, CJ, a woman completely obsessed with maintaining a certain body, sighs that she thinks women just want to be told that they are acceptable:
You know…I think it’s a lie that all women want to be skinny. I think we just want to be told its okay to look the way we look.
Ultimately, Sykes and Piazza have given us another introspective, self-aware heroine intent on defining herself by her own terms and I am here for it.
Thanks to Penguin Random House of Canada for providing me with an ARC of this book. Any errors in quoting are due to coming from an unfinished copy.