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The Woman Who Fooled The World: Belle Gibson’s Cancer Con, and the Darkness at the Heart of the Wellness Industry

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,045 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Belle Gibson convinced the world she had healed herself of terminal brain cancer by eating a healthy diet. She built a global business based on her story. There was just one problem: she never had cancer in the first place.

In 2015, journalists uncovered the truth behind Gibson’s lies. This hero of the wellness world, with more than 200,000 followers, international book dea
...more
Paperback, 324 pages
Published January 10th 2018 by Scribe Publications (first published November 2017)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,045 ratings  ·  138 reviews


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Start your review of The Woman Who Fooled The World: Belle Gibson’s Cancer Con, and the Darkness at the Heart of the Wellness Industry
Andrew Garvey
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What kind of person goes to the funeral of someone they barely know, hijacks the whole affair and makes a huge show of how grief-stricken they are?

What kind of person fakes forty minutes worth of seizures at their own son's birthday party?

What kind of person builds a wellness brand on claiming to have terminal brain cancer when they don't?

What kind of person holds fundraising events for the family of a child who actually has brain cancer, and doesn't even tell them about it, much less hand over
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ALPHAreader
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
‘The Woman Who Fooled The World: Belle Gibson's Cancer Con’ is an Australian non-fiction book by journalists Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano, who broke the story of Belle Gibson’s multilayered fraud back in 2015 for The Age newspaper.

I didn’t know who Belle Gibson was when her “cancer con” story broke a couple years ago. I don’t follow any wellness bloggers and I can’t cook – so I was entirely remote from her Instagram/App/Cookbook world. But when she was exposed to be a fraud on multiple counts –
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Pam Power
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absorbing insight into Belle Gibson & the ‘wellness’ industry. The authors are SCATHING in their assessment of her & all the knob jockeys she surrounded herself with *cough* Lola Berry *cough* Frank Body* etc. I came away from reading the book not so angry at Gibson (she’s clearly a fruit loop) but more so disgusted at the people who were complicit in her rise, particularly her relationships with Penguin books & Apple and their complete lack of checks and balances. The sickly sweet correspondenc ...more
Bon Tom
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Other reviewers said everything there is to it, I'll just add this book delivers lot more than facts about the main "character", which is kind of a misnomer because she doesn't have one.

It covers range of topics related to main events, from why people lie, why would they lie in these particular circumstances, the cancer "cure" industry, social media madness and general lack of critical awareness, publishing industry, need to believe in possibility of assuming control where you have none, and so
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TJL
Lordy lordy, this book was savage.

As it should be, since Belle [Expletive] [Expletive] [Expletive] Gibson and others like her are sabotaging peoples' health and safety with their "wellness" fantasies- especially when they KNOW it's a fantasy and promote it anyway, because I guess screw the innocent people who believe them in a time of stress and fear and end up screwing themselves out of an effective cancer treatment.

I've seen this type on the internet before, the "wellness warriors" who talk o
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Steph
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My partner was loaned this book, and when I first saw it I thought “oh I don’t care about that celebrity stuff”, but then I was lying on the couch and it was the only book within reach... and I was hooked!

It’s about Belle Gibson, but it’s much more than that. It’s a case study in excellent investigative journalism, an exploration of the “wellness” industry and a documentation of the rise of one of Australia’s first social media stars.

The book is so well written, and so intriguing. It broadly fo
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Amy Polyreader
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian
I’m glad this book was written, a lot of people needed closure on the elusive Gibson saga. A mighty easy read... too easy, in fact. There were a few grammatical errors that irritated me and the writing style wasn’t great. Nevertheless, it was an absorbing story. I can only imagine how incredible it would have been from Helen Garners perspective (one can dream).
Zohal
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
True stories like this remind me how easy it is to fall for fake news, and get an entire crowd to believe pure lies.

Scribe Publications
The Woman Who Fooled the World isn’t just a detonating exposé, but a forensically researched, compulsively readable and frequently staggering behind-the-scenes account of an unravelling on an operative scale. It’ll also restore your faith in journalism’s ability to uncover the truth and expose it to light.
Benjamin Law, author of Gaysia and The Family Law

Meticulously researched and elegantly composed, The Woman Who Fooled The World is a journalistic detective story for the smart-phone age. Donell
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Margot McGovern
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Equal parts disturbing and compelling. I'm not much for any movement that interferes with my relationship with chocolate, so the first I heard of Belle Gibson was when she was outed as a charlatan. The Woman Who Fooled the World asks two key questions: why she lied and how she got away with it for so long, and I think what makes it such a fascinating read is that the answers to both questions are more complex than they first appear and reach far beyond Gibson herself.
Sarah Jones
5/5
Well written- could not stop reading. My only hesitation is that I felt a bit dirty after I finished it- there’s something not quite right about the thrill of watching the take down from afar.
TishBee
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This ended up being a more thoughtful and balanced picture of Belle Gibson than I was expecting, particularly in relation to her family and upbringing. I think it gives a decent perspective on why she did it. Gibson seems to have been more capricious than malicious in her scam.

That said, when my sensible, well educated mother was diagnosed with agressive breast cancer she visited an alternative health clinic that was later discredited for quackery. I can only imagine how much damage may have be
...more
Kerran Olson
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
4.5* This book was so interesting, not only does it go right into Gibson's life and her lies, but also discusses the wellness industry as a whole, issues within publishing, and changes to the way journalists work in a changing social climate. This book at times was scathing in its discussion of Gibson, and although I had a vague idea about her con prior to reading, this got so into into it, including interviews with family and colleagues, doctors, and previous friends. The authors give so much b ...more
Jamie-lee Owen
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an incredibly well researched and written book, and as unbiased as a book exposing a person as a liar and a cheat and a fraud can be. It holds multiple parties accountable and notes the very prominent role the wellness industry and the online news reporting cycle had to play. I wish more time was given to Belle’s introduction to the female scammers hall of fame and the vitriolic response from the public women are faced with in times like these as opposed to their male fraudster counterp ...more
Andrea Conley
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Unbelievable true story of Belle Gibson, a young woman, who for a long run successfully scammed the world! Made me think a lot about “wellness” and claims that are made on social media. Anyone can put things out there on the internet and sadly, so often people believe it.
Esther
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and horrifying.
Rebecca
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rebecca by: Caz
Completely fascinating account - I couldn't put it down. Devoured in two days. Highly recommend!
Heidi Cox
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and raced through it. An intriguing story very much of the social media age. I’m still unclear, as are the authors, as to what prompted Belle Gibson to claim she had cancer and am appalled that she continues to see herself as a victim, taking no responsibility for the harm and hurt she caused. And the big beasts that fell for Belle - Apple, Penguin, numerous magazines - all of whom failed to undertake basic fact-checking. We are well and truly living in the era of ...more
Carly Findlay
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an incredible read about conniving, manipulative and unremorseful behaviour. Belle Gibson fooled so many, and made a fortune doing so. The book shines a light on the wellness industry - no one questioned her because of her beauty, youth and supposed cancer (because you don't lie about or question cancer, apparently). It's just awful. Her actions have made people question everyone who genuinely writes about their actual illness. Thanks Nick Toscano and Beau Donnelly for writing it, and to ...more
Nat
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

An absolutely riveting read.

The below extract is so accurate and something I have noticed far too often.

For the most part, this new breed of wellness gurus is white and female, young and attractive, engaging, and media-savvy. Some are yoga teachers, or personal trainers, or martial-arts instructors, but scant few have any qualifications that equip them to give health advice. What they do have is an Instagram account.

For the most successful wellness figures — those who have turned thei
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Emma
Wow, this book was a hell of a ride. It reads a little bit like a thriller and I would say I've enjoyed it greatly if only it was fiction.

But it is not. A woman really faked terminal brain cancer.
She really lied about "curing herself" with a "natural diet" (I can't write all those things without scare quotes, I just can't).
She really made a lot of money out of it all (thanks to Penguin and Apple who really never checked any of her claims before going into business with her).
And
...more
M. Mangan
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cancer quacks get on my last nerve. People who lie about the causes of cancer and make people afraid, and those who blame people for their eating habits, are particularly nasty actors. But even worse on the scale of deceit are those that lure people to stop science-based medical advice in favor of utter nonsense. Belle Gibson was one of the worst--looking like the picture of health while she lied her way to book and app sales and taking money from the vulnerable.

Unforgiveable. And to see how rem
...more
Simone
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-nonfiction
A scathing expose, not only of Belle Gibson herself, but also the media and the social trends that allowed her to flourish. We are told the story of the disadvantaged child and troubled teen who morphs into celebrated author and app developer, darling of Instagram and Apple Inc., all via an alleged diagnosis of cancer. The convenient blindness of business people to facts that didn't add up, who fawned over her story and wholesome appearance, (knowing both were highly marketable) is explored. The ...more
Sevda
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Couldn’t rate this high enough. Engaging and easy to follow. Great insight into the web of lies spun by Belle Gibson and how it all become unravelled. Won’t lie I did skip the last chapter as I was more interested in the tale of Belle Gibson than another story but I understand the importance of having it there.
Sally
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How does one even begin to describe the subject matter of this book? It's so vitally important to read something like this in an age where no one seems to ask the hard questions and everything could well be an elaborate facade. I remember this the controversy about Belle Gibson when it happened, and I had only a fleeting interest then. However, in the years since; the question of why she wasn't ever charged and how this sort of thing can even actually happen really really grated at me. I've a le ...more
Marcella Purnama
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading this book is hard. You would question morality, humanity, life. How could anyone do what she did? And why would anyone do it?

Alas, we may never know the real answer. It's good that the Bible tells us not to play God and pass on judgment, because judging her is the thing I'd really like to do. I am healthy. I have no idea who Belle Gibson is until her fall from grace circa 2015, and since then I've read bits and pieces of her scam. And all in all, I'm really furious on what she did.

The bo
...more
Em
Really interesting investigative account of Belle Gibson and her "I cured myself of brain cancer by eating natural foods!" scam. It looks into the wellness industry more broadly, as well as Belle's life and deceptions.
Erin *Help I’m Reading and I Can’t Get Up*
4.25 stars

Super-intersting. Somehow, I had managed to miss this controversy, and as someone who loves drama, I was sucked in. There was some padding added, I felt, with discussions of the wellness industry, etc, that had nothing to do with Belle Gibson's story directly, but overall it was fascinating. A really quick one-day read. Great!
Rosie Bell
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic piece of investigative journalism. I thought the story might be a bit thin to stretch over a whole book, but this was really well structured and covered so much more than just Belle Gibson’s story.
Inez
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well researched
Well written
Interesting and shocking
Worth reading
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