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The Sunday Times bestseller: an uplifting account of hope and healing by GP Gavin Francis

‘I cannot think of anybody – patient or doctor – who will not be helped by reading this short and profound book’ – Henry Marsh

‘Such a wise, gentle, quietly hopeful book. Exactly what I needed’ – Rachel Clarke

‘A lovely little book’ – Michael Rosen

When it comes to illness, sometimes the end is just the beginning. Recovery and convalescence are words that exist at the periphery of our lives – until we are forced to contend with what they really mean.

Here, GP and writer Gavin Francis explores how – and why – we get better, revealing the many shapes recovery takes, its shifting history and the frequent failure of our modern lives to make adequate space for it.

Characterised by Francis’s beautiful prose and his view of medicine as ‘the alliance of science and kindness’, Recovery is a book about a journey that most of us never intend to make. Along the way, he unfolds a story of hope, transformation, and the everyday miracle of healing.



‘A lovely book, a mixture of a reverie about convalescence, it’s also a handbook – there’s lots of lovely advice – and it’s an anthology of thoughts as well: we hear from people like Virginia Woolf, Maggie O’Farrell, we go back to Chaucer, we even hear from Hildegard of Bingen, Oliver Sacks… it’s full of pithy reminders, like ‘we’re all patients sooner or later’, ‘illness is as much about culture as it is about disease’, and ‘health can never be a final destination.’ [Francis] says health is very much attached to the idea of growing and uses the metaphor of Snakes & Ladders. That’s my takeaway – if I had to describe my last eighteen months it’s full of snakes and ladders. A lovely book.’

Michael Rosen on Front Row, 20 Dec. 2021

'Wise and thoughtful… This book is a practical guide to recovery from illness as well as a meditation on the practice of medicine. Take a holiday, says Francis, travel if you can, read books, set yourself achievable goals, don’t compare yourself to others, allow yourself time, commune with green, living things, have a pet.

I cannot think of anybody – patient or doctor – who will not be helped by reading this short and profound book.’

Henry Marsh in the New Statesman

‘Filled with compassion and warmth, the book provides both insight and succour.'

Sunday Times

It couldn’t be more timely… Even if you are not at present ill, it is worth reading this book because the gentle guidance it gives is actually applicable to being healthy. There are things we can do that make life, even a life without pain or fatigue or anxiety, richer.’

Scotland on Sunday

‘sparkling, uplifting… ‘brief, and useful and written with his customary blend of case study and literary precedent’


Recovery is not only a physiological matter but, like disease and illness, is shaped by culture and ideas and expectations of the body, as Gavin Francis points out in his new book, Recovery - The Lost Art of Convalescence, It is also a matter for the mind. “We fall ill in ways that are profoundly influenced by our past experiences and expectations, and the same can be said of our paths to recovery,” adds Dr Francis, who works as a GP in Edinburgh. As a society, we are not, he argues, giving recuperation proper consideration: it is something that requires space and active attention to be fully effective. “I often remind patients that it’s worth giving adequate time, energy and respect to the process of healing,” he writes.

The Guardian Editorial - Recovery: An Underrated Process

‘This is a wise and compassionate little book on recognising the need for, and value of, recovery: individual and collective. I can’t recommend it enough. Thank you Gavin Francis.’

Damian Barr

‘Such a wise, gentle, quietly hopeful book. Exactly what I needed this January. Beautiful words and ideas.’

Rachel Clarke