An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia by Emma Woolf: A book review by Hannah Morpeth

“Nothing in life is wasted; everything is experience.”


Emma Woolf’s autobiography An Apple a Day provides a stark insight into the whirlwind life on an anorexia sufferer; a worthwhile read for the naive, knowledgeable or fellow fighter. A lot can be learnt about anorexia from the book as Woolf is brave to disclose her innermost feelings to the world in a bid to raise awareness and help others to understand the complexities of anorexia. A beautifully written read about living with anorexia which sends out a message of hope to fellow sufferers and with any luck dares them to also take a brave step towards recovery.


Woolf is an Oxford graduate, accomplished journalist and avid traveller. The anorexia is an aside. Despite this debilitating illness Woolf has found success in telling her story to the world; a particularly brave venture which started with the publication of her column in The Times which soon became a huge hit with writers sending in messages of support, thanks and admiration of her courage. Speaking up about mental health is not an easy thing to do, even within this so-called equal, non-discriminative society we supposedly live in nowadays; the unknown is still off-putting to most. No-one would think twice about someone speaking up about the difficulties involved in physical health recovery but mental health recovery has a dark stigmatised cloud milling over it, it is still somewhat a tabooed conversation which tends to get the “oh my God” reaction out of everyone. Thus making Woolf’s work even more significant in raising awareness and most importantly understanding of anorexia.


Covering the origins of her anorexia right up to her current stage in recovery with painful honesty Woolf shows anorexia not to be glamorous nor a statement made solely by the fashion industry; affecting around 1.6 million people in the UK eating disorders do not discriminate on age, gender race or social class-they can concern any one of us. For the naive Woolf explains how complex the illness is; for many people anorexia is just understood to be food related, a person suffering from anorexia just doesn’t eat properly thus resulting in the one dimensional advice of “just eat” when in reality the “not eating” is just the surface. An Apple a Day covers every aspect of the disorder, the thought processes involved, the lack of control and most importantly the guilt that is attached to the illness. Furthermore it highlights just how much of a person’s life it takes over, affecting careers, social lives and familial and intimate relationships.


By openly talking about her fight towards recovery and the path that lead her there, Emma Woolf is hopefully inspiring a nation of anorexia sufferers that are teetering on the edge to take the leap of faith towards recovery.