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Larger Than Life    by Adele Parks order for
Larger Than Life
by Adele Parks
Order:  USA  Can
Downtown Press, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Georgina has spent the last fourteen years of her life molding herself into the woman she thinks Hugh Williams wants her to be. She has been in love with him ever since she first laid eyes on him in their freshman year of college. Since he showed little interest in her other than as a friend, she started a self-improvement plan to win his love.

She diets and exercises herself down to a size four, becomes well read and informed on all issues, and even follows Hugh into an advertising career. Hugh's marriage and subsequent two children don't thwart George's plans. She desires Hugh more than life itself. Finally, his marriage over, his first stop is George's doorstep. Two years later, George has the life she's always dreamed of with Hugh. Then she discovers she's pregnant.

Hugh reacts well when he hears the news, although his actions don't seem to support his supposed enthusiasm. As the pregnancy progresses, George suffers through morning sickness, weight gain, and lethargy. Hugh begins to pull away, staying late at the office and saddling George with many of the household responsibilities, including caring for his children. She grows apart from her girlfriends, who have troubles of their own. Is there hope of salvaging her relationship with Hugh? Will she come to terms with impending motherhood?

Larger Than Life encompasses many issues that women face on a daily basis. Can we truly fall in love without losing ourselves in the process? George's character is particularly endearing. At first I could not identify with her single-minded attempts to snare Hugh. I thought her pathetic and spineless, to change herself so completely for a man. But then I began to see parts of myself in George. Like her, I can focus intensely on something so that it takes over my whole life. Every reader has something to learn from George's quest to win Hugh and her revelations about herself.

The one thing that I didn't get is exactly why George is in love with Hugh. Since the book is written from George's point of view, the reader is not given insight into his motivations. I have to question why George pursues Hugh so exhaustively, as there is nothing particularly admirable about his personality. He takes advantage of George at every opportunity, and when her body changes with the pregnancy, he is almost repulsed that she would dare to gain weight - and reminds her often that she needs to go to the gym.

I would like to have seen George have a love interest who accepts her unconditionally. Since George and Hugh's courtship and fun occurs before the story begins, the reader misses the romance element and only sees the downturn of the relationship. Readers looking for a contemplative chick lit novel that will teach them something about themselves will enjoy Larger Than Life, an intricate look at life, love and relationships.

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