The Shape of Us, by Lisa Ireland

This time it would work. She would lose the weight in tome for her birthday. And maybe she’d say yes yo that holiday in Thailand Sean was always nagging her about. Tomorrow she would start on the readiness tasks she was supposed to do before Monday when the program kicked off. But tonight she may as well finish off the rest of these chocolates. After all, the first task was to rid the house of any tempting foods.

Four women who have never met in person connect through an online forum. They are all very different: one is a young mother, with a rocky relationship and no family support. Another is happily married and a successful businesswoman, but longs for a child. A third has it all – career, children and a happy marriage. The fourth has moved backwards in her career to be closer to her lover. What connects these very different women is that they are all very overweight, and have joined the forum in a desperate attempt to lose weight. At first online and, later, in person, they  become friends and support each other through times much harder any of them could have imagined.

The Shape of Us is a story  about friendship. Though weight loss (or the desire to lose weight) is what brings the friends together, they connect and support each other in many different ways, and weight becomes almost a background issue.  The use of a blend of third person narrative and blog entries from the perspectives of all four women is an unusual and effective means of getting inside each character’s lives and emotions.

Although weight loss ceases to be the overriding issue of the book, the differing weight loss experiences of the characters, as well as their experiences surrounding being overweight, is an intriguing premise for a book. Issues of family support, body image, infertility, surgical intervention and more are explored.

At heart, though, this is about the bonds which bring women together and the ways they support each other.

The Shape of Us, by Lisa Ireland
Macmillan, 2017
ISBN 9781760550875

All I Know, by Mary Coustas

This is a story about life and death, a memoir based on a part of my history about which I never imagined writing. But loss has driven me to try to find answers in what remains, to airlift myself to a place that serves me better than helplessness and misery. To reach out. This is my love letter to what lives on beyond the devastation.

The child of Greek immigrants and raised  in Collingwood and Doncaster, Mary Coustas grew up to become one of Australia’s best loved television actresses, particularly for her portrayal of  Effie in Acropolis Now. Now, in her autobiographical book, she shows another side from her funny girl image.

All I Know shares Coustas’ life story, with a focus on the loss of her much-loved father, and her attempts to fall pregnant after meeting the love of her life, George.  Coustas is honest and open,at times funny and often rawly heartbreaking.

Fans of Coustas will love the chance to get to know her more intimately, and those who have struggled with infertility may find hope in her story.


All I Know

All I Know, by Mary Coustas
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743319635

Available from good bookstores or online.