THE PASSION OF ALICE by Stephanie Grant


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A grimly amusing, occasionally off-putting first novel set in an eating disorders clinic. At nearly five eleven and 92 pounds, 25-year-old Alice Forrester, is the thinnest of all the anorexics in the upscale eating disorders clinic of Seaview Hospital, near Boston, where she's been admitted following a near-fatal heart attack. For a woman like Alice, who views her resistance to food as a spiritual achievement--a Gnostic differentiation between desire and need--this new evidence of her own self-control is intensely satisfying, and she eyes the bulimics, fitness addicts, and obese women on her floor with far more disgust than pity. Still, a girl can only survive the clinic's monotonous routine of group therapy, individual therapy, art therapy, and family therapy with friends; her uneasy alliances with Gwen, a delicate trust-fund victim whose anorexia is actually causing her bones to crumble, and Louise, a food addict, prompt Alice to examine the origins of her own asceticism in her chilly relations with her successful, narcissistic parents and in her first love, a black homosexual who introduced her to sex with disastrous results. Fortunately, Alice's morose musings are soon interrupted by a new arrival: Maeve Sullivan, a slutty, voluptuous bulimic whose desire to consume everything, including and especially life itself, horrifies yet fascinates self-denying Alice. Maeve's casual trysts, her wolfing down of sugary deserts and then nonchalantly vomiting into whatever trash can is available, and her surprising habit of baring her large breasts for Alice's admiration are just what this frightened girl needs. Alice surrenders herself utterly to Maeve, who naturally soon abandons her, but not without leaving our love-starved young heroine with just enough hunger for life to carry on. An intriguing view of the world through an anorexic's eyes--and no fault of the author's if that view is often an unpleasant one.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0553378619
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin