A novel about women, eating disorders, food, diet myths, celebrities, body image, magazines and their role in disordered eating, bulimia and anorexia.
The book, a compelling work of fiction, also looks at fashion, photography, models, families, marriage, friendship and sexuality.
Comments from readers:
– The Quill & Quire (May issue): "Lisa de Nikolits' first novel is an unconventional treatment of eating disorders, which are often presented in fiction as merely an adolescent phase. De Nikolits shows how such disorders can in fact continue into adulthood. The sufferer appears fully functioning, while in reality their body obsession permeates every facet of their lives.
De Nikolits's beautiful, ambitious narrator subsists on apples and green tea, avoid social situations where there will be buffets, dresses in baggy clothing, and judges her friends and co-workers' physiques, imagining all the while that they're judging hers as well. And perhaps they are: de Nikolits' has embedded the narrative so deeply within her narrator's psyche that it's hard to tell where the neuroses end and the reality begins...the novel's conclusion is thoughtful and strong.
–Kerry Clare, a writer and reviewer in Toronto
– Kristin Jenkins of The Anglican Journal said: "For anyone who has ever wondered why a smart, accomplished woman would starve herself just to feel human, The Hungry Mirror takes an unsentimental look at the lonely world of eating disorders. This gripping tale of fractured self esteem pulls back the curtain on rigid regimens that collapse into chaos over and over again. Played out against a childhood where drastic dieting was a family value, Lisa de Nikolits expertly delivers both sides of a "perfect life" that includes a marriage headed over the cliff and a brilliant but unpredictable career. Fasten your seatbelts, folks: this is a ride on the psychological and emotional rollercoaster that is anorexia and bulimia.
Who would have thought that the devastating inner workings of an eating disorder could be engaging rather than repellent. de Nikolits, through incredible wit, humour and naked revealment pulls you in like Anna-Marie MacDonald – you feel the main character's pain and obsession. Delighfully laced through the story is a 'Devil Wears Prada' type expose that takes you behind the scenes of the frivolous and flighty world of publishing. Brilliant and impossible to put down!
Through her very engaging and raw inner dialogue the author effectively conveys to the reader the kind of day-to-day struggle someone with an eating disorder wrestles with silently while the rest of the world goes on, oblivious to the intense fears that hover below the surface. While it is a serious commentary on the state of body image today, The Hungry Mirror is also an intriguing portrayal of a smart and funny protagonist. Unlike other novels in this genre that are dark (Skinny) and without hope, de Nikolits shows us someone who is anxious to understand and embrace herself and the strange world around her.
A Must Read!
In this thoroughly captivating, clever and shocking narrative we witness the struggle of one woman with the isolation and self loathing that constitute an eating disorder. Her deepest moments of darkness are illuminated by Lisa de Nikolits' energetic and quirky writing style, which makes this book impossible to put down.
Through a behind-the-scenes look at the magazine publishing world, we are reminded of the way mainstream media has butchered the raw, natural femininity that has been reverenced for thousands of years. Ultimately though, we are reminded of the strength and beauty of a woman's spirit.
In sum, this book is a must read. At the least it will be eye opening, but for some it might be life changing.
Gripping and profound!
From the first page of the first chapter, this book took me in and wouldn't let me go. Every sentence packed a humorous, insightful and frequently devastating punch taking me into a world I didn't know much about and on a journey I won't soon forget. If you're looking to read something beautifully written and telling a story with substance, choose The Hungry Mirror. You won't be disappointed.
The Hungry Mirror is a remarkably authentic account of the struggles associated with eating disorders. Lisa's creative and insightful story is a must read for family members, friends, and individuals recovering from an eating disorder.
–Marilyn Strauch, M.A. (c) OACCPP Psychotherapist
Started reading The Hungry Mirror last night and could not stop. Quite the eye-opener and raw with truths, even for someone who's worked in the industry and seen it all. So real! What an accomplishment.
I land a fabulous job art directing one of the highest profile, glossiest, international consumer woman’s magazine. Yes, I help sell all those unrealistic images of women that can’t possibly exist. I sit for twelve hours with a retoucher to get rid of the blemishes on a supermodel. Yes, the very one who won’t get out of bed for less then
ten thousand dollars a day. Of course, her body isn’t retouched for fat. We just have to clean up the clusters of blackheads around her nose and chin area, but I have scrutinized and digitally smoothed the thighs of fourteen-year-old girls, so if anybody knows what a myth it all is, it’s me.
So, if I know that none of this is real, why do I buy into it? I remember how, for a time, we used male models for pantyhose ads because their legs were better – and still, when I looked at the finished ads, I wondered why my legs didn’t look like that and I felt like a failure. Talk about unrealistic expectations.
I have left Bullard’s health and fitness magazine and moved on to bigger and better things. This magazine is famous, syndicated the world
over. The head office is in France and their team has come over to help us launch. They are lovely, the French; strong women with kind, even
gentle souls, not your usual industry folk at all. They get us on track and leave. The editor-in-chief, Evie, shakes my hand and wishes me
good luck while she looks over my shoulder at my editor.
“You are so thin, you lucky girl,” bug-eyed Maia Rosenthal says to me, some months later. She is hunched over, eyeing me from behind
her desk with a nasty look.
Yes, I am with Maia. For better or for worse. Maia landed the big one she’d always dreamed of, and she’d plucked me from Shanda, thinking I’d be good to lead her art team. Pliant, hard-working, passionate and faithful – that’s me.
Having worked with Maia before, I thought I knew what I was in for, but she seems to have changed. While she’d always been singlemindedly
obsessed about having her name right at the top of a power masthead, and was already an addict of several kinds, her infrequently seen sunny side had vanished entirely.
It could be that the realization of a dream didn’t bring her the happiness she’d thought it would, or perhaps life has disappointed her once
too often, or she’s just become tired, but her bad habits have increased and her carefree, ringing laugh has flown the coop, leaving room for
Her father is a famous psychiatrist who appears to have done a great job in screwing her up, succeeding in making her a melting pot
of volatile, brilliant insecurity.
Rumour currently has it that she does a lot of coke to keep her weight down, and heroin and ecstasy to keep her happy. The result is a psycho mix; you never know what to expect. I mumble something in response to her comment about my weight.
“Have you noticed the fashion assistant’s put on a lot of weight?” she asks me, staring, hardly blinking her immense, black tar eyes.
I tell her I have. We are all aware of the reasons but I know Maia is going to thrash through it again. Whether it’s a pointed accusation at me or just a general women-bitching-about-each-other session, I can’t be sure.
“She was bulimic,” Maia tells me as she studies my face carefully, looking for any kind of reaction, but I am ready for this one. I don’t twitch an iota.
“She was only skinny because she used to throw up everything. She told me she decided to stop after she went to visit her boyfriend’s family. Did she tell you the story?”
I sigh. Of course, I have heard it but Maia is intent on telling me herself.