That some of us overeat in order to feed a spiritual rather than physical hunger isn't a new idea, but perhaps no one has chatted it up with as much panache as Roth (When Food Is Love). In her earnest new book, this popular workshop guru focuses on the ersatz bliss of overeating but also expands her vision to question "the meaning of success, thinness, friendships, and fulfillment." Drawing on much personal anecdote-her hair loss following illness; her ties to her best friend; her worries about another's health, etc.-she charms readers toward realizing that true happiness comes not from a sleek body, wealth or indeed any external attribute but from a sense of inner worth. There's nothing new in that idea either, but Roth presents it, as usual, in just the right mix of confession, sass and style. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After 20 years of therapy and 13 years of "spiritual practice," diet guru Roth (When Food Is Love, Dutton, 1991) shares 243 pages of inspirational insights about self-esteem. "You are the feast," she concludes, having recounted at length her own tribulations brought on by an illness she will not name that caused her to lose her hair-a crowning blow. She was thus forced to reevaluate her own advice to those she had counseled about appearance and self-esteem. Roth continues to give lectures and workshops; to assist the reader, she offers her business address and telephone and FAX numbers at the end of the book. Though full of New Age platitudes, her work nonetheless has a following. For Roth's fans.-Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, D.C.
Roth speaks of issues that, chauvinism aside, only women can truly understand and identify with. In the past, her books were about food, weight, dieting, and the almost universal obsession that women have with their bodies and self-esteem. Now her canvas of introspection and discussion has expanded: eight chapters examine the nature of women's friendships, the craving to be famous, the longing for safety, and the search for a parallel life (or the perfect fantasy), among other topics. Based on intensely personal experiences, written with intensely emotional and intellectually probing prose, Roth's book pushes far beyond the issue of weight to ask what will make women happy. Her not-so-easy answers, divined from decades of therapy, of experiential beingness, of Buddhist practice, will speak to many.
A dubious exploration of appetite as a metaphor in women's lives, from the author of When Food Is Love (1991), who conducts workshops on women, food, and self-esteem.
According to Roth, women desire obsessivelya perfect body, success, loveinstead of embracing themselves as they are and appreciating what they already have. A woman who overeats, for example, may be trying to fill a void within herself, not realizing that she already has what she needs. Roth gives examples from her own life: Having obtained what she thought she wantedfame, a good man, a thin body, a life in scenic northern Californiashe still wasn't happy. Then she developed chronic fatigue syndrome and a vitamin deficiency that caused her hair to fall out, all of which made her realize that she should have appreciated her health while she had it. A series of chance disastersan earthquake, a fire that nearly burned her house downled her to understand that everything she has could easily be taken away, that her deepest satisfaction must come from herself. Though witty and lucid about her personal experience, Roth does, unfortunately, lapse into the occasional New Age, pseudo-Buddhist truism. Nor is it always obvious how particular parts of the narrative fit into her overall argument. Worse, the author can be downright maudlin: Anthropomorphic paeans to her cat's capacity for enlightened contentment, though mitigated by moments of self-mockery, get embarrassing after awhile.
Roth's lack of self-consciousness about her own privilege is an even larger problem. It is easy enough to preach about finding happiness within yourself when you have what you always wanted from the world. But those who haven't found love, fame, rewarding work, or money may be less than sympathetic to the spiritual struggles of the "woman who has everything" and still isn't satisfied.
"Roth tells of her own experiences with a non-blink frankness cushioned by the gracefulness of her prose."—Chicago Tribune
"Just the right mix of confession, sass, and style."—Publishers Weekly
Praise for When Food is Love
“A life-changing book”—Oprah Winfrey
“A rare and special book that touches our inner selves with extraordinary courage, authenticity, and beauty. I have seen very few books with this kind of clarify and human depth. It will move you to tears and to joy. It will entertain and delight you, and it will make you a deeper and more compassionate human being.”—John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America
“Spectacular! I laughed and I cried… a tender and daring book that you’ll never forget.”—Laura Davis, coauthor of The Courage to Heal “I see miracles in my life every day, and Roth is one of the people who helped make that happen.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Anne Lamott in Mademoiselle “Roth’s seminal work. This is a big, beautiful, and important book.”—Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones “She tells of her own experiences with a non-blink frankness cushioned by the gracefulness of her prose.”—Chicago Tribune “This book is A) good enough to eat, B) nourishing to the heart.”—Jack Kornfield, Buddhist teacher, coauthor of Seeking the Heart of Wisdom