THIS is a moving story about a woman who rediscovers herself or better still, who comes of age. In this story, Lori Lansen portrays physical freakishness, that is, extreme obesity of a 43-year old brunette, Mary Gooch who weighs over 300 pounds, stands five feet five inches tall and is “so gilded with fat that hardly a bone from her skeleton would insinuate itself in her reflection. No hint of clavicle, no suggestion of scapula, no jag in her jaw, no scallop in her knee, no crest of ilium, no crook of knuckle, not a phalange in the smallest of her fingers.” She is an obsessive eater who eats on the sly and is married to her school sweetheart she has met in her last year of high school, when she happened to be spectacularly slim. She had been fat as a child but loses weight before her wedding by eating worms. After her marriage, she starts putting on weight, possibly overcome with grief over miscarriages and other deaths, particularly the death of her cat.
Mary Gooch is aware that she has only herself to fool in reflecting the possibility that her husband might not come at all. But choosing the day, their silver wedding anniversary, strikes her as much too dramatic a gesture. She also realises that through the years, disappointment and worry have brought her life to a standstill as she has allowed her universe to shrink to the well-traversed path from the bedroom to the refrigerator. It is now that her husband’s disappearance startles her from her reverie and she sits up. She however has to wait and while waiting, she reflects on the sad accumulations of their life together – the secrets and silences that had grown between them and her gaining of pounds and worries. She now finds herself imprisoned in a vast body she no longer recognises, her isolation and anxiety made manifest.
She enters her bedroom, opens the closet to search for clues of infidelity which she has never done before. After a week she discovers an apologetic note from Gooch, who, apart from leaving an amount of 25,000 dollars in his account, says he is going away as he needs some time to think. With the shocking realisation that her handsome husband who was a star athlete in high school has gone, Mary boards a plane for the first time and flies across the country to find her husband. She had so become used to hiding from the world that now she is forced to look up from her downcast eyes.
On her journey, she discovers to her horror that she has lost her brown vinyl purse but she reaches the home of her in-laws. She sees her mother-in-law Eden who has become very frail. Her father-in-law Jack is confined to bed. As Mary sends her mother-in-law to rest, she opens the refrigerator and finds “strawberries and fresh melon and sharp expensive cheeses, boiled eggs, cured meats and olives. She would have eaten the things whole a few weeks ago, gobbled handfuls of the berries, devoured the cheese in chunks and gulps, washed it down with the big baguette, belched, wanted more. Now she gazed upon it all like a colour palette, deciding how she would mix and compose it.”
She leaves her in-laws’ house to go to the bank to enquire if news have reached about her lost purse and while coming out, she sees an old man meet with an accident. She helps him go to a hospital. When she returns to her in-laws, she finds her mother-in-law has taken her father-in-law to the hospital. Eden returns at night and asks Mary to stay on at her house and help. Mary is only too happy to oblige.
Mary waits for her husband to return but he does not. She also finds that he has constantly withdrawn money from the bank. Meanwhile she meets Hay-su and decides to live on in a new world.
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