Cruise with an Adorable Fat Girl

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.

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Mary Brown is on a cruise ship for three weeks. She was due to meet her friend Dawn on board (Dawn writes a blog called 'Two Fat Ladies' and Mary was travelling with her to help her write it), but Dawn doesn't turn up for the cruise, leaving Mary alone on the cruise.
She meets a very elderly man at the dinner table and they become the most unlikely of friends. In this section Frank (the elderly man) begins to tell Dawn why he is on the cruise... to go back to Gibralta to say goodbye to his two great friends who he saw die when they were there in the war. 

“Hey Frank, Frank,” I said, as I saw my nonagenarian friend after dinner that evening. I raced up to him at such speed that Janette looked genuinely frightened. If Frank could have seen further than the end of his nose I suspect he would have looked frightened too. As it was, he just sat straight-backed, staring into the distance as I ran towards him.
“Hello,” I said, warmly. “It’s me - Mary.”
Ah Mary. I was hearing all about your intriguing day over dinner. Didn’t you manage to convince half of Portugal that you were a famous film star?”
“Yes, something like that,” I said. “I told a guy on the tram that I was Rebel Wilson. God knows why...I regretted it as soon as I’d said it. I certainly didn’t expect them all to chase around after me and ask for autographs, but it was all definitely my fault. I feel such an idiot. I’m always doing things like that, Frank. Always getting myself into a complete state.”
I looked over at Frank and he was smiling broadly, his shoulders shaking slightly as he laughed.
“Always a joy to meet someone who doesn’t take life too seriously,” he said. “Your generation can be so serious about the most trivial of things. I’ve never understood why. Go tell ‘em you’re Rebel whatever her name is if you want to. Tell them you’re the Queen of Sheba if you want. Life’s supposed to be full of surprises, Mary Brown. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“Yes,” I said, with a smile. “And when the psychiatric nurses come to take me away I shall say that it is all your fault.”
“Of course,” said Frank. “Just blame me. I’m too old to go to jail.”
“Can you carry on the story you were telling me earlier. You know...about you going off to war.”
Frank laughed to himself. “Are you sure? You don’t want to be spending half your time talking to an elderly man.”
“I’m fascinated. Please tell me everything. PLEASE.”
“OK,” said Frank, smiling and shaking his head. “I can’t remember where we got to. Did I tell you about Jim and Tom?”
“No. Who were they?”
“OK. Let me take you back to November 1942,” he said, his voice soothing and calm. “Close your eyes for a minute and think about it. I was just a teenager and I’d received my call-up and within a few days I was on a military flight to Tunisia. I sat there, in my newly acquired uniform, surrounded by complete strangers. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Before that I’d worked on the fish market. I’d never been out of the county.”
I adjusted myself in my seat, taking a gulp of gin and tonic and resting my feet on the small, glass coffee table in front of me. I closed my eyes.
“OK, I’m there,” I said. “I’m on the plane with you.”
“Most of the men on the flight with me were older,” he continued. “They had been serving for a couple of years and were being redeployed. I felt like I was the only one going into combat for the first time. I was so much younger and much more inexperienced than the others. It was like they had known a world that I knew nothing of. Then I got chatting to two guys, they were called Tom and Jim. Great guys. Like me, they were off to war for the first time. They were a bit older but not much. Tom was from Birmingham and Jim was from Slough. Very funny and entertaining on the journey out there they were. Full of mischief. I guess it was what you’d call gallows humour...all of us trying to cope with what might lie ahead, but it was humour all the same. We quickly became close friends.”
Frank stopped to take a sip of his drink which had been poured into a plastic beaker to make it easier for him. He lifted the bright blue cup with his shaking hand and Janette rushed to help.
“We all arrived safely and I remember walking out into the furnace. I’d never felt heat like it before...this burning, intense heat that seemed to blast itself into us. Then we were taken for a briefing session before being handed weapons and equipment. I’d had a few basic training sessions in England before leaving, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. When I look back now...I was just a kid. I knew nothing. Nothing at all.


 Author Bio –
Hello, my name is Bernice Bloom and I am a writer (I write light-hearted rom-com style novels and also work as a magazine journalist and advertising copywriter) and jewellery designer. My recent series of novels is called ‘Adorable Fat Girl’ and it features a heavily overweight woman called Mary Brown. She is bright, funny, friendly and bonkers. She’s also fat. The books blend the comedy of her efforts to lose weight with a more serious backstory about what happened to her in the past that had led to the issues that make her prone to over-eating. I’m fascinated that there are so few overweight heroines in literature. Women can be manipulative, evil, even murderers in fiction, but not fat! Certainly not fat and beautiful with loads of friends! Then along came Mary and she’s developed quite a fan base of people who love the fact that the heroine is large. She gets lots of letters and I have ended up taking her on lots of adventures!

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