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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

The Weight of Temptation

by
Ana María Shua


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Weight of Temptation



Title: The Weight of Temptation
Author: Ana María Shua
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007 (Eng. 2012)
Length: 187 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: The Weight of Temptation - US
El peso de la tentación - US
The Weight of Temptation - UK
The Weight of Temptation - Canada
The Weight of Temptation - India
El peso de la tentación - España
  • Spanish title: El peso de la tentación
  • Translated by Andrea G. Labinger

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Our Assessment:

B : decent satire, even if it offers little that's new

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Página|12 . 2/9/2007 Patricio Lennard


  From the Reviews:
  • "En una época en que los límites entre la obesidad como problema estético y como “factor de riesgo” continúan siendo no del todo claros, Shua pone en la picota la idea de la delgadez como tour de force (como modelo aristocrático) y a las instituciones que parecen hacerla posible. El peso de la tentación es una novela precisa, graciosa, ácida, entretenida, que se suma a una serie de textos recientes en que la literatura se pregunta acerca de una enfermedad cuya historia es, en algún sentido, todavía incipiente." - Patricio Lennard, Página|12

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Weight of Temptation follows Marina Rubin's stay at The Reeds, a weight loss facility (cum boot camp). Marina has struggled with her weight for years now, and after trying any number of diets decides its time to take a radical step -- going to The Reeds. It's an intensive program where they do their best to break the participants from what is perceived to be their addiction. It's very expensive -- and:

     The contracts authorized the institution to apply whatever treatments they deemed necessary to each patient, even against their will.
       While the methods are extreme -- wired-shut mouths, a 'Clockwork Orange'-inspired electro-aversion therapy, and solitary confinement -- they do stop short of excessive physical force. As to the psychological impact, that's a different matter .....
       Nevertheless, patients are also free to leave whenever they want -- although their contracts stipulate that if they do so they have to pay an enormous financial penalty, which certainly helps keep them from taking that step.
       The Reeds is run by the Professor, with dictatorial glee. It's all in the patients' best interest, he convinces them, but he leads with a very firm hand. As he explains:
We're all adults here. We take responsibility for our actions. If we overeat, we get fat. If we sign a contract, we abide by it. That's what The Reeds is about. Becoming responsible for yourself.
       Yet The Reeds is also a place in which the patients have limited control. If arguably they are being taught to be responsible it is also only because the lesson is forced on them: what ostensible choices they have are, in fact, very limited.
       Shua skewers several targets in The Weight of Temptation, beginning with the cultural/social obsession for thinness, and the extremes to which people are willing to go to achieve it. Marina's struggles with her weight are representative, though some of the other patients are even more grotesque examples of the odd relationship many have -- or is forced on them -- regarding ideals of physical appearance.
       The Weight of Temptation is also a novel of a closed society, and its dynamics. Half Lord of the Flies, half concentration camp -- but always with that veneer of harmlessness (patients are always free to leave, after all ...) and despite its mission of creating a more fit and better society -- The Reeds is indeed far from idyllic.
       If anything, The Weight of Temptation is too tame and, especially, sincere. Shua shies away from the sharpest edges of satire. Interestingly, too, the end of the novel allows for a resolution that gives everyone a way out (of sorts). As it turns out, the Professor failed to take into account the incarcerated children -- here (well, next door, essentially) because their parents sent them here -- when he claimed: "We're all adults here". Adults may accept that a stay at The Reeds is all about: "Learning to be adults" and willingly let themselves be coerced, but the kids have no say at all and so the same can't quite be expected of them. So while the adult-patients are somewhat amenable to learning how to become responsible for themselves, the children prove to be a bit more of a handful.
       The Weight of Temptation is fine, if a bit forced and pedestrian. It covers all the obvious points -- something Shua does quite well -- but there's no great leap of the imagination here.

- M.A.Orthofer, 3 November 2012

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Links:

The Weight of Temptation: Reviews: Ana María Shua: Other books by Ana María Shua under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Argentinean author Ana María Shua was born in 1951.

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© 2012 the complete review

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