Saturday, March 18, 2017

“The Food of Love” by Amanda Prowse – How to Disappear Into Nothingness

The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse - front cover

Amanda Prowse's Deep Understanding

The fight against bad food and obesity has been raging in the United States and certain parts of the world for decades now, with seemingly more and more people being afflicted every single year. We've devoted countless resources to this fight, with oh so many trying to push their supplements, diets and exercise plans that promise to be the ultimate solution we've all been waiting for.

However, there is another side to the coin of weight issues that gets seldom explored in the media and popular culture: anorexia/bulimia. While it may seem ridiculous at first glance that people would starve themselves in countries where food is over-abundant, it's a psychological affliction that affects many more people than we realize, especially because of how easy it is to hide it for a long time.

Amanda Prowse is an English author, and she is one of the few authors who have dedicated a book to the problem, and it's titled The Food of Love. Now, before we get into this book I will warn you that Prowse shows an acute understanding of the inner world of an anorexia sufferer, and many of the passages in this book are so harrowing and gut-wrenching that it feels they could only have been based on real events. Whether or not these events stemmed from the author's own life is ultimately irrelevant as they depict the real struggles of countless people around the world, and that gives them all that much more impact.

A Rattled Family

Without spending too much time on the relatively basic premise of the story, we are introduced to the Braithwaites. After 19 years of marriage, the wife and husband are still as warm to each other as they've ever been and they have two loving daughters to show for, Charlotte and Lexi. All goes well until it becomes increasingly apparent that Lexi is struggling with her weight and has anorexic and bulimic tendencies. The majority of the book is basically about how the family tries to manage in light of this condition, how they try to help Lexi, the countless ups and downs she goes through on her journey, the horrible experiences she is put through, and basically what life is for someone like that.

Understanding that The Food of Love is primarily a fiction book, I have to say that the story does precisely what it sets out to. The drama feels quite intense and very realistic, with many moments lodging themselves in the mind without any intention of leaving. It's the kind of book that leaves a long-lasting impression for it seamlessly combines the need for a novel to entertain and the author's own desire to educate the readers on an often-overshadowed subject.

While simple in its nature, the plot keeps making sudden turns and taking us to unexpected corners, always keeping us guessing as to whether or not the Lexi and her family will manage to pull through something so surprisingly destructive. The insight we get into the family dynamics is also quite revealing and definitely lends itself to further thought; when a condition this powerful worms its way into a family's life, it seems that changes in relationships and perspectives are inevitable amongst its members.

A Break in the Realism

With all that being said, I found it surprising how Prowse chose to portray the world surrounding Lexi, especially considering how meticulously and accurately she portrayed her inner world. In certain instances the amount of neglect suffered by Lexi was simply not believable. For example, the inpatient clinic she was staying at discharged her at barely 70 pounds, which simply isn't something that would happen in the real world, the extremest of cases excluded of course. No self-respective medical professional would have discharged a woman who was on the brink of death from malnutrition and trusted her to feed herself (at Lexi's height of 5'6”, a weight of about 70 pounds would have meant death a few pounds ago).


In addition to that, the ending felt quite rushed and unrealistic, with Lexi being carted off to the world's worst inpatient clinic, and then happily back with her family on vacation one year later. Considering all the author had shown us up until this point about Lexi and her condition, it's highly doubtful she would have been out of treatment in only a year, and completely unbelievable that she would have been galavanting away on vacation. If not still in treatment, she would at the very least have had to undergo many months, if not years of gruelling and painful physical therapy. Considering that Prowse pulled no punches in describing Lexi's condition, I do indeed find it puzzling that she basically went soft for the ending.


The Final Verdict

All in all, despite its various inaccuracies when it comes to treating anorexia, The Food of Love is ultimately a novel meant to entertain, and not a textbook meant to educate. If you can find it in yourself to give the author a bit of lenience and are looking for entertainment more than anything else, then I will wholeheartedly recommend this book for you. It has fantastic writing, gripping drama, enthralling characters, and many moments you won't soon forget.

Amanda Prowse

Amanda Prowse

Personal site

Amanda Prowse is an English writer hailing from London who is currently best-known for The Food of Love, I Won't Be Home for Christmas and My Husband's Wife . Her books have reached the number one spot on many bestsellers lists, having sold millions of copies around the world.

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