Times, Book of the Week:

“Into this culture of bodily fluidity - and anxiety - comes this timely, thought-provoking, and eloquent book… brimming both with warmth and insight, Francis puts himself among the ranks of physicians with fine pens, including Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande, who, for all their learning, retain a deep humility.”


“Such is the breadth of Francis’s interests that Shapeshifters is never less than intellectually energetic… in each case, behind each array of presenting symptoms, there is a whole world of feeling and a style of understanding.

Sunday Times:

“The book feels like a cabinet of curiosities… His patients, above all, are beautifully observed. It is a delight just to wander through the museum.”

Scotland on Sunday:

“This is a fascinating account, full of detail that one would otherwise not know, and full of openness in terms of the difficulties, triumphs, disasters and glories of a career in medicine… what comes across, luminously, is the human”

Sunday Herald:

“Shapeshifters is beautifully written as well as extremely absorbing.  I came away from it with a renewed appreciation for the wonders of the human body.”

Sunday Express:

“whether he’s writing about setting the bones of an eight-year-old boy in the Gambia, or counselling a man who’s abusing anabolic steroids, Dr Francis will leave you marvelling at the physical self you carry around with you every day.

New Scientist:

“As a family doctor, Gavin Francis has observed bodies at all stages, from delivering babies to being terminally ill.  In Shapeshifters he has been guided both by medical texts and Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  Francis finds the transformations of the body during life as fabulous as those in the Roman poet’s fables, which describe statues brought to life and humans turned into streams.

Village Voice:

“Gavin Francis makes being a doctor sound like the best job in the world… The 24 essays in this collection - on topics ranging from puberty and death to eunuchs and scalps - all circle the theme of metamorphosis, and shed light on the biases of modern medicine even while celebrating its achievements.”

The Lancet:

'The grounding of descriptions of the scientific basis of change in relatable stories of people makes a complicated subject easier to digest. This technique only works if executed well; thankfully, Francis makes it seem effortless and the result is a compelling narrative.'

The Australian:

Gavin Francis belongs in the long tradition of doctors who have written about their profession and what it teaches them about the human condition… powerful chapters grapple with the transformations we face as we traverse the biological span of life, from conception to death. There are eloquent descriptions of pregnancy, menopause and old age.


'Shapeshifters is a fantastical story of the marvel of being human.  It is confirmation of what doctors are privileged enough to experience first hand on a daily basis.’

British Journal of General Practice

There is a sense of enthusiasm and wonder in his writing that is infectious.  He is a celebrant of holism.  Iona Heath wrote in The Mystery of General Practice that ‘All aspects of human existence are legitimate concerns of the general practitioner’.  This book epitomises that sentiment.