We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Unbearable Lightness Audiobook

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

Regular Price:$31.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

“I didn’t decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. Being as thin as possible was a way to make the job of being an actress easier . . .”

Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work - first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.

In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn’t enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.

Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.

From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love with and eventually marrying Ellen DeGeneres, and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women’s health issues.

In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies, Unbearable Lightness is a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.

©2010 Portia de Rossi; 2010 Simon & Schuster Audio

What the Critics Say

“Breathtakingly honest, brutal and beautiful.” (Jonathan Safran Foer)

“Possibly the best book on the subject ever written. De Rossi is the real deal, a fine writer with a sharp mind and substance. This rich, layered book of remarkable courage, power, and significance will serve as life-changing inspiration for many.” (Augusten Burroughs)

“De Rossi tells her story with genuine insight and unflinching honesty. You will cheer her on.” —Jeannette Walls

More from the same

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (743 )
5 star
 (438)
4 star
 (186)
3 star
 (86)
2 star
 (19)
1 star
 (14)
Overall
4.4 (527 )
5 star
 (335)
4 star
 (119)
3 star
 (46)
2 star
 (13)
1 star
 (14)
Story
4.5 (530 )
5 star
 (352)
4 star
 (122)
3 star
 (40)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    haboon 02-28-15
    haboon 02-28-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautifully written"
    If you could sum up Unbearable Lightness in three words, what would they be?

    Tragic, beautiful, enlightening


    Any additional comments?

    If you've ever struggled with an eating disorder or would like to understand how it is to have one, please buy this audiobook or read the book. I've never struggled with anorexia or any other kind of ED myself, but I wanted to understand how it is because it just seems so mind blowing to me that someone could hate themselves so much, but after listening to the audiobook it all seemed a little less confusing and even though I will never truly understand I am more capable of empathising with the pain and knowing a little more what to do and how a small action or a simple sentence can send someone spiralling. Really eye opening and emotional!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Christchurch, New Zealand 01-19-15
    Amanda Christchurch, New Zealand 01-19-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    29
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "thought provoking insight into anorexia"

    Thanks portia for your honesty. Eating disorders are so evil and they strike the most dedicated conscientious and intelligent amongst us. This book allows us to see into the heart of the eating disorder into its insanity. recommend it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JY L. 09-21-14
    JY L. 09-21-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Honest and interesting"
    What did you love best about Unbearable Lightness?

    Portia was very truthful with her experience; some details were shocking but really made me feel like walking into the life of an anorexic. I was afraid that she wouldn't be that professional a write but the events and themes were structurely skillfully and kept me interested throughout. I also enjoyed hearing about her homosexual and recovery experience. It's an easy "read" and I liked how I was able to listen to it while doing other things. Definitely a plus that she read it herself.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    qungang CHESTERFIELD, MO, United States 05-26-13
    qungang CHESTERFIELD, MO, United States 05-26-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "narrow focus"
    What disappointed you about Unbearable Lightness?

    This story was poorly written and such a narrow focus. The book was focused so narrowly on just her weight. Although the story was heartbreaking, her narrow focus on writing about just her weight, it made it seem like she had no career in acting.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pamela Pflugerville, TX, United States 04-06-13
    pamela Pflugerville, TX, United States 04-06-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Way too long, tedious, boring"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Way too detailed and way too long. Could have been an hour or two long and covered everything well. I would get so bored with all the details I would set it aside and then go back later hoping it would get more interesting. Never did. Sorry I wasted my time on it.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Portia de Rossi again?

    No


    Would you be willing to try another one of Portia de Rossi’s performances?

    Yes


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Unbearable Lightness?

    90% of it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorenza 04-03-13
    Lorenza 04-03-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    104
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Vivid depiction of an anorexic mind"
    Where does Unbearable Lightness rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It was enjoyable, above average, though not the greatest but I enjoyed it. Would buy again.


    What about Portia de Rossi’s performance did you like?

    She was a good narrator, but can sound angry too often.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    It's good overall, even though most of the story is very oppressive, except the long epilogue.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine TOPEKA, KS, United States 02-04-13
    Christine TOPEKA, KS, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An inspiration for all"
    What did you love best about Unbearable Lightness?

    I found myself relating to de Rossi's struggle...even though I've never suffered from anorexia


    What about Portia de Rossi’s performance did you like?

    The fact that de Rossi narrated makes the story all the more personal


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone who has struggled with addiction, self image/worth or belonging should read this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krystyna Charleston 10-03-12
    Krystyna Charleston 10-03-12 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good story great lesson"
    If you could sum up Unbearable Lightness in three words, what would they be?

    Great book about the striking truth of struggle with self-actualization under the pressure of the society.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Delvatje Vancouver, British Columbia Canada 08-07-12
    Delvatje Vancouver, British Columbia Canada 08-07-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More hope?"
    Any additional comments?

    While I was pleased to hear Portia narrate her own book, I found the book frustrating. Instead of being a memoir of recovery, the book becomes an almost encyclopedic manual for how to have an Eating Disorder. She goes into minute detail on how she managed to become an 82 pound waif and spends 20+ chapters on the minutiae of her ED. Her recovery is touched on only briefly in the epilogue. While the book does end on a high note, I am concerned that young people reading this may get more ideas on how to become ill in this way than inspiration to be well. That said, I applaud Portia's bravery and honesty.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone Calgary, Alberta, Canada 08-04-12
    Simone Calgary, Alberta, Canada 08-04-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    65
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not cheery, but I loved it"
    Any additional comments?

    I fell in love with her listening to this. My only complaint would be that her recovery doesn't start until the epilogue, I would have liked to hear more about the upward trajectory that followed the descent she describes in the book. I hope she'll write another book, no matter what it is about I would read it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.