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Review of "Piglet" by Lottie Hazell: An Insatiable Craving for Destruction

Review of “Piglet” by Lottie Hazell: An Insatiable Craving for Destruction


The story goes like this: Piglet is in her early thirties and engaged to her seemingly perfect partner, Kit. They have recently moved into a newly built house in Oxford, near Kit’s parents. During the week, Piglet commutes to her job as an editorial assistant at a cookbook publishing company in London. Life seems like an idyllic bliss, with only 90 days left until the wedding. But as expected, things start to unravel. Just thirteen days before the wedding, Kit reveals a betrayal and Piglet’s carefully crafted life begins to show cracks. She feels ashamed of the wealth disparity between her family and Kit’s, as her parents from Derbyshire enjoy Viennetta without irony and check prices on menus, while Kit’s parents fund the couple’s mortgage and wedding. Piglet also feels a growing distance from her best friend Margot, whose pregnancy marks the end of their carefree days. The stress of planning a wedding and trying to get a promotion takes its toll. And on top of it all, Piglet has a complicated relationship with food.

Lottie Hazell’s first novel focuses heavily on the theme of hunger, and the significance of Piglet’s name is not without reason. The protagonist’s desire for social advancement and strict adherence to societal hierarchies make her a complex character. Her demand for her mother to speak properly in front of her wealthy in-laws raises questions about Piglet’s own behavior. Additionally, her excuse for buying toddler-sized clothes for Margot’s newborn (“babies have so many rules”) comes across as self-centered. Piglet’s inner turmoil is often expressed through her relationship with food, as she cooks elaborate meals to portray a picture of domestic bliss and prides herself on her knowledge of Middle Eastern cuisine. She sets a goal of making a croquembouche for her French-style wedding, but secretly turns to fast food to suppress her doubts. This internal struggle serves as fertile ground for the story, with each chapter counting down to the wedding day while the couple tries to ignore the implications of Kit’s deception. It is clear that the wedding will end in chaos.

However, when Piglet finally confronts her own desires, the novel’s biggest revelations come from scenes that are purely virtuous and may disappoint readers who were expecting more tension and drama from class conflicts and extravagant wedding attire. Piglet’s initial complexity and flawed cravings make it hard to feel satisfied with the simplicity of her self-punishment at the end. She reflects, “Her desires were unreliable companions…She had eaten her heart out, but it made no difference.” It seems too neat and naive of an ending for a story that delves into how societal expectations based on class and gender can shape and distort a person’s lifelong aspirations. Just like the frequent descriptions of food in the novel, I longed for something unexpected, a jolt to the system that never came. Greek yogurt is described as “thick”, cooked pasta as “silky”, pizza as “doughy”, and ribs as “sticky”. It’s a familiar repertoire that offers comfort, but lacks excitement. Piglet is portrayed as gluttonous, but then she learns to adhere to a more mainstream liberal ideology, similar to her middle-class colleagues who engage in “problematic bingo” where all the winners are still old white men. Her binge-eating, which could have been a vulnerable and profound topic for the book to explore, is only lightly touched upon and ultimately forgiven.

Hazell’s debut novel, Piglet, reveals a common misconception about first-time authors: that their work must be exceptional enough to launch them into instant fame, otherwise it is deemed worthless. However, we must remember that a first attempt is just that – a first attempt, and should be seen as a stepping stone for future endeavors. The main character in this novel shares similarities with another character, a woman in her thirties with a questionable nickname, a strained relationship with her family, good intentions, and an unhealthy relationship with food and self-care. While Fleabag was boldly unconventional, relishing in chaotic scenes and rejecting easy answers, Piglet hesitates and avoids straying from its mild moral message. The lessons it teaches us are nothing new – it’s unwise to reject your class background, a woman’s body is constantly scrutinized, and female friendships provide comfort during tough times. While it may be an enjoyable read for a lazy Sunday afternoon, Hazell tackles provocative themes that could have been explored more boldly. Hopefully, in the future, she will push the boundaries even further.

Source: theguardian.com