Life-Size (novel)

First edition (US)
AuthorJenefer Shute
CountryUnited States
PublisherHoughton Mifflin (US)
Secker & Warburg (UK)
Publication date
Media typePrint

Life-Size is the debut novel by South African author Jenefer Shute, published in 1992 and is a Literary Guild selection.[1] It is a first person account of Josie, a twenty five year old graduate in Economics, suffering from anorexia, who is hospitalised in an attempt to stop her from starving herself to death.


  • Susan Reynolds writing in the Los Angeles Times was unsympathetic to the main character "In the end, you might understand Josie, but you still don't like her; Shute has successfully created a character almost beyond empathy. Josie is relentlessly mean spirited, so alienated that you can hardly feel sorry for her in your haste to get away from her. She takes all the sap out of life, and she does it so actively and aggressively that it's hard to see her as a victim."[2]
  • In contrast Marek Kohn writing in The Independent is far more positive: "a mordantly funny novel, though. In addition to its beady eyed wit, Life-Size offers vital insight, stark and even lyrical by turns, into how anorexia looks from the inside. As a first novel, it is a virtuoso performance. Based on feminist analyses of the condition, as deriving from the tyranny of body images, its translation of theory into character is a notable achievement.[3]
  • The NYU School of Medicine praises the book's authenticity: "Shute has researched the topic and reveals many of the traits which characterize this illness. The author’s narrative technique aptly conveys the preoccupations of the protagonist; obsessive thinking is well delineated and gives a strong sense of how challenging it must be for caregivers to treat such patients."[4]

Publication history[edit]


  1. ^ Fiction Book Review, Publishers Weekly, 04/01/1992
  2. ^ Through Thick and Thin : LIFE-SIZE, By Jenefer Shute LA Times June 14, 1992
  3. ^ A poor thinner: Life-size - Jenefer Shute, The Independent, Saturday 05 September 1992
  4. ^ Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database Retrieved 1st Nov 2013