Beat the bullies

<strong>The Big Fat Bitch Book</strong>

Kate Figes <em>Virago, 288pp, £9.99</em>

ISBN 1844082954

There are two sides to this book, literally: The Big Fat Bitch Book for Girls and, when flipped over, The Big Fat Bitch Book for Grown-Up Girls. The former offers survival strategies for the adolescent girl, the latter for her concerned mum.

Whereas boys will impulsively lash out with their fists, girls are more likely to use words. We are all guilty – Jane Austen's heroines included – of possessing a certain gift in the field of bitching, which is all well and good, so long as we take measures to prevent the art form degenerating into bullying. The vindictive power of bitching lies in its make-up; based on subtle manipulation, its tactics are intended to escape detection and gradually wear down the victim.

Kate Figes takes the approach that, while you'll never beat the bitch out of the female, it can be tamed and controlled. In the course of her advice, she cites many a harsh put-down from the hilarious Bette and Joan: the divine feud by Shaun Considine, which recounts the battle between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford that followed the stars to the grave.

The Big Fat Bitch Book will disarm even the most sophisticated bully and provide some invaluable coping tactics to her prey. Read it and feel empowered, righteous and at one with your inner bitch.