This isn't an original work but I wanted to share some of my finds in other works in this genre.
I always like coming across things like this in books I read – especially when they are pretty unexpected.
Apologies for the length.
“And Quite Flows the Don” is one book where I found some example of this. The character Aksinia is described to have put on some weight in one or two scenes. There is one I think I remember where she is waiting for the main character Grigory to return from the war and in the meantime she had begun a relationship with a nobleman and she remarks to herself that she was fuller since last she saw Grigory. I need to go back to this book and find more details but the details of Grigory’s and Aksinia’s relationship are that Aksinia was previously married to another man and she and Grigory run off together – despite both being married. If I remember right her “weight” concerns are tied around if she is still attractive to men.
The famous “War and Peace” features some weight gain with one of the main female characters Natasha Rostova. In film adaptations she is played by a gorgeous young actress like Audrey Hepburn or Lily James and in the novel she is described to be slim and lively. At one point in the novel, she is described by another female character to have grown “plumper and prettier” since last scene and by the end of the story – she is described as having grown stout and wide and lost some of her youthly vigor.
In George R.R. Martin’s “Fire and Blood” he writes about the Targaryen Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. She is described as a spoiled little girl, who grows up very beautiful to become known to everyone as the Realm’s Delight. She goes through several marriages and pregnancies and is eventually in her early 20’s and already “grown stout and thick of waist, the beauty of her girlhood a fading memory, though she was but 20 years of age.” This is contrasted with her rival and stepmother who although much older, still retained her beauty and figure. Rhaenyra’s fall from the Realm’s Delight limits the success she has in getting the support from nobles during the civil war and after taking the capital city, she is described to seek out her pleasures at the dinner table, growing even fatter as the occupation of city and war progresses.
In the series of novels “The Century Series” by Ken Follett I was very interested in the path of minor female character Princess Bea, who begins in “The Fall of Giants” the first novel taking place before and during the First World War and makes her final appearance in “The Winter of the World” about the interwar and Second World War. She is initially described as extraordinarily and shockingly pretty and angelic. As the first novel goes on she is described as becoming more voluptuous and having softer thighs. In the second novel she is described as being “heavily corseted” and later as “quite fat” but still dressing as a girl. Her loss of this universally regarded beauty seems to be used by the author in her case to show the Princess finally getting what she deserved. She begins the series as the stunningly gorgeous Russian princess observing a cruel execution and ends it a fat middle aged woman trying to hold on to her past. The point of the series seems to be that history leaves us all behind and Princess Bea is never made out to be a sympathetic character beyond her extreme beauty at the start.
The series of historical novels, “The Sharp Series” by Bernard Cornwell features a female character named Josefina Lacosta. She has the arc as a kind quasi-suspect noblewoman turned courtesan with a bit of grifter quality to her. Definitely trading on her beauty and desirability for social advancement. In her first appearance in “Sharpe’s Eagle” (Summer 1809) she is a startling beauty who makes even the experienced Sharpe tongue tied. Her body in the first novel is described as “warm and strong, the muscles hardened by exercise.” The book ends with Josefina leaving for the comfort, safety, and rich men of Lisbon while Sharpe continues to fight the French in Spain. He next crosses paths with her in “Sharpe’s Gold” (Summer 1810). In this book, Sharpe meets the Spanish guerrilla fighter he later marries and compares her to Josefina. Josefina is described as a lover of comfort. When Sharpe after finding his gold makes his way to the high class house where Josefina now plies her “trade” he notices that after living in comfort in Lisbon for some time she looks “plumper than he remembered.” In her last appearance in “Sharpe’s Enemy” (Christmas 1812) Josefina is now seemingly married to a British general, going by the name Lady Farthingdale and doing her best to hide her “professional” past. She is captured by a band of deserters while on a religious trip and Sharpe is tasked to rescue the hostages – without knowing of Josefina’s involvement. Sharpe meets her after the rescue. She is described by Sharpe as having lived in comfort in Lisbon and that since their relationship at the time of the battle of Talavera, she “had put on weight,” making her “more beautiful but less to Sharpe’s taste.” Sharpe’s NCO sidekick Harper who is noted to like his women plumper than Sharpe does remarks that Josefina has “grown into a rare looking woman.” There is a great scene in the book where Josefina and Sharpe are catching up particularly about how she uses her looks. Here is a bit of the dialogue: “I’m popular Richard, just as long as I keep this.” She pointed to her face. “And the rest of it.” “Yes.” She smiled at him. “It still works.” I like this part and I have to imagine that Sharpe is seeing the woman who once held him speechless 3 years ago, losing her figure that she relies on to continue to live in wealth and comfort. There’s another scene where Sharpe and some other officers are dining along with Josefina and Sharpe’s Spanish guerilla wife Teresa interrupts. In a great scene just after, Teresa is teasing Sharpe about his attraction to Josefina. “‘Still I suspect you think she is very beautiful, yes?’ ‘Too fat.’ ‘Too fat! You think anyone’s too fat who’s wider than a ramrod.’ She was facing him and punched him lightly on the arm. ‘One day I’m going to become fat, very fat, and I will see if you truly love me.’” Josefina goes off with her faux husband but later writes to Sharpe that she is back to Lisbon and unable to continue as Lady Farthington after Sharpe exposes her past. That is, to my knowledge, the last she is mentioned in the book series. I would love to see more of her story as she tries to continue to build up her social position and live in comfort while failing to maintain “the rest of it.”
These are what I can think of. I think some of them have been mentioned elsewhere. Overall I do enjoy coming across these in stories where I don’t expect them. I share some of the other views among people here in that I like the way the weight is tied in with a “ruin” of the woman, especially as Sharpe teases Josefina about losing “the rest of it” and calling her fat to his wife.