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on 7 June 2017
A very interesting and well written account of what it's like to suffer from an eating disorder. I would highly recommend this book.
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on 13 March 2017
Excellent
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on 3 August 2013
As a sufferer of anorexia myself, I love reading about recovery stories and ways I can improve and finally get on the road to recovery. I picked this book thinking it was a recovery story, but it is very clear from the beginning that Emma is still suffering from anorexia quite badly. Also, at times, I felt like she was almost 'showing off' how severe her anorexia was in her darker days as she keeps repeating her extremely low weight and how she's suffered for 'over a decade'.
On the positive side, I did find the book very insightful and could relate to her thoughts and anxieties very well. She is a wonderful writer and I wish her all the best on her road to recovery
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on 12 March 2013
Emma is the most brilliant writer. This is an incredibly moving book describing her battle with anorexia - a wretched disease which affects too many lives. As a former sufferer, I could identify with lots of what she has written. What stuck out the most for me was the constant anxiety and worry - the ongoing thoughts about food and cleanliness. This is all to real and was at times difficult to read because of the memories it bought back. Emma's account paints a very real picture of what it is like for a sufferer. Emma constantly demonstrates how determined she is to beat this illness - which is why I think its important that others read this wonderful book because you will be shown that the road to recovery is not at all easy. But it IS possible. Thank you, Emma, for being so brave and sharing your story with us. Make sure you also read her other book - The Ministry of Thin: How the Pursuit of Perfection Got Out of Control
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on 10 April 2017
If you ever needed proof that having a famous relative (Virginia Woolf in this case) was enough to get you into print, then look no further!

Emma was a happy girl, even being sent to London's poshest private school along with her two sisters and two brothers, despite her parents being "hilariously poor" as she puts it. But then life got in the way, a relationship turned sour in Manhattan, together with other tragic events, and anorexia set in. Eating disorders are always tough, no matter who they happen to, but what I presume the author wanted to be a revealing and useful book, simply came off as shallow and irritating. If you're looking for a novel by someone who constantly tells us her lowest weight as an anorexic (VERY triggering, and someone who claims to know as much about anorexia as Ms. Woolf does should know better); name-drops all the places around the globe she has accompanied her travel writer boyfriend on; complains about how awfully exhausting it is to be jetting out of London each weekend to some new and exotic location; mean and nasty third-world countries who don't cook food the way she wants it done ("My food has to be a certain way - and when you travel as much as we do, it rarely is") - food drenched in butter in Tanzania and other African countries, problems in Zanzibar over bread rolls, and an awful time in Barbados looking for low-fat yogurt, not to mention a traumatic experience in midst of the Indian Ocean: "When (Tom, her boyfriend) tried fruit-bat curry in the Seychelles (and I ate a plain green salad), I remember feeling sad that I couldn't join in".

But despite her literary pedigree, her background as a journalist, her own experience as an AN sufferer and her Oxford education, Emma's musings about anorexia barely scratch the surface of the disease, and give precious little insight into how it affects sufferers, unless you count having your gym membership terminated because staff are worried about your health, having your bananas stolen from your hotel room in the tropics by a troupe of baboons, or desperate attempts to make yogurt in a hotel kitchen in Kenya because they don't cook your food the way you want them too. The nerve of it.

She also heaps on scorn on things she doesn't agree with, such as group therapy for women suffering from eating disorders: "When I wrote a column one week, warning other sufferers against getting involved in group therapy, I received some fairly vitriolic responses from practising therapists. I understand: they believe that group settings can be beneficial, but I disagree."

So if all of this is your cup of Darjeeling tea, then by all means buy this book. But if you really want an insight into anorexia and how it affects those it touches, Marya Hornbacher's "Wasted", "Seconds To Snap" by Tina McGuff, or the little-known but superbly written "The Body Tourist" by Dana Lise Shavin are much, much better.
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on 19 February 2016
Emma Woolf has had a very privileged background, she leads a super luxurious life travelling the globe with her equally privileged boyfriend, writing in her moleskin journals and not eating much. She is spoilt, self obsessed and, being a graduate of Oxford and the grandaughter of Virginia Woolf, has a fabulous job in publishing.

Sour grapes led me to hurl the damn book across the room on a number of occasions: like Brooklyn Beckham, Emma will have so many opportunities the rest of us just won't and she goes on about her 5 star lifestyle too often for us to forget that.

In between, there is some interesting material. I know ill health happens to the wealthy too and that I should be more generous in acknowledging the honesty that has gone into a searingly honest and often helpful account of anorexia from the inside. I am just feeling let down that this book didn't help me at all, it just made me feel utterly miserable.
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on 16 November 2015
this was exceptionally dull and quite disappointing. I bought this expecting a book about anorexia; instead it is a book about Emma Woolf's fertility and her boyfriend. Why she thinks we care about the ins and outs of her ovaries i do not know; i truly wanted to read about anorexia, not her boyfriend and her desire to have a baby despite being unable to eat buttered bread. The baby talk is exhausting and quite frankly i don't give a damn. If she's still anorexic it would be irrevocably irresponsible to have a baby because she simply does not eat enough and the baby would be born malnourished.

Overall she is not a very likeable person, her writing is repetitive, tedious and quite shockingly poor for someone who read Eng Lit at Oxford. Not to mention the bragging about being a functioning anorexic, it is crystal clear she is not recovered and following in Hornbachers footsteps she has only succeeded in glamorising anorexia.

It was a complete waste of money and i really dont recommend you buy this book - especially if you have an ED because it gives no motivation whatsoever to recover.
It's a self obsessed, draining and vapid book.
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on 18 October 2014
Woolf is an exceptionally good writer: there it no denying that. On the topic of anorexia and Woolf's recovery though, I have many issues in regards to this book.

If she thinks that this book shows that she is recovered then she is deluded. Having experienced and recovered from anorexia myself, between the lines you can quite clearly see that her thinking is still affected my anorexia. I almost felt like she was bragging about how little she could and did and would eat in some areas, whilst not remaining conscious of triggers throughout the book.

I find it more of a shame that she believes she is better when she is not, and it is quite irresponsible to publish a book about having recovered from an ED as if being a role model for those suffering, when really, this is not quite true. I feel for her, but this book is exceptionally triggering and not a healthy nor hopeful memoir of experiencing anorexia, and coming through on the other side.

If your'e trying to recover and you want to read this, I definitely don't recommend it until you're very strong and resilient to triggers.
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on 26 January 2013
As a fellow sufferer, I identified with much of what Emma said. But her journey is still ongoing and it isn't a book about recovery, more an insight into the world of eating disorders. She writes candidly about her struggles and I would recommend this to anyone wanting to understand more about eating disorders as the media image is not accurate. A parent, relative or friend of a sufferer may well find this book a helpful read as may somebody seeking to recover. But those totally in the grip of anorexia would probably not be in the right frame of mind to read this. Anorexia is a very complex illness and such books can sometimes be read hungrily (excuse the pun) to compare, compete and even try to pick up tips. Emma manages to avoid constant references to weight and there are no shocking images in the book which I found reassuring as she is in no way "proud" of her illness as is the case in some books I have read where the author includes emaciated photos of themselves and refers to weight and BMI constantly. By not doing this, Emma seems genuinely to want to recover but I agree with other reviews that she has a long way to go yet and I wish her well in her battle to beat this cruel disease. Finally, thank you for personally responding to the email I sent you, Emma, much appreciated.
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on 16 February 2014
I've read a number of books on anorexia, and found Emma Woolf's account to be one of the most hopeful tomes on the subject. Her prose style is well rendered and easy to relate to, while the content is shamefully honest. She doesn't hide the fact that she often felt like a fraud in the presence of so called 'real anorexics' (those undergoing hospital treatment). Though I enjoyed this a lot, it doesn't stack up next to Marya Hornbacher's shockingly grim "Wasted". It's a little heavy on the romance at times, but overall essential reading for those suffering from an ED.
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