I’ve already read loads of Alexander McCall Smith books, possibly because he writes so many of them. While I enjoyed the 44 Scotland Street and The Sunday Philosopher’s Club stories, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series didn’t capture my interest, and I didn’t like McCall’s version of Jane Austen’s Emma at all. However, Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party goes in a whole new direction, as this book features an Irish-American main character, Fatty O’Leary.
Fatty’s nickname reflects his physical state, as he is almost morbidly obese. He is a good-natured and successful business man, who lives with his wife Betty in Fayetteville Arkansas.
Fatty and his friends in Fayetteville are more Irish than the Irish, so when Betty surprises Fatty by planning a holiday to Ireland, he is delighted.
The trip itself is a disaster though, as Fatty’s weight creates problems from the beginning. At the airport, the airline announce the plane is overloaded and request a volunteer to fly on a later flight. Other passengers immediately nominate Fatty as the obvious choice to be left behind. Although he actually makes it on the plane, he squashes the passengers to either side of him. The airline move Fatty to First Class to provide relief to the other passengers, but when the airline serve him a meal from Economy, he behaves badly and is moved back to Economy. Fatty’s former seatmates are then served First Class meals and wines, which he considers to be discriminatory.
In Ireland, neither Fatty or Betty enjoy the holiday as they had anticipated. Other guests staying at their lodgings snub them and Fatty constantly finds himself in humiliating circumstances.
Eventually, though, Fatty and Betty get through their trials and they go back to America with plenty of stories to tell their friends.
The story is obviously a comedy, although how successful it is, I don’t know. I didn’t laugh at any of the situations. The jokes are at Fatty’s expense, and while his weight issues are his own fault, and there is a moral hidden in the story, he was a good fellow and I didn’t want to laugh at him.
I don’t think Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party is one of this author’s best stories so would probably recommend other readers try a book from another series.