When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote countryside, it’s meant to be a fresh start, away from the big city and the scene of a violent assault she’s desperate to forget. But when one of her students starts sending in chapters from his novel that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognises herself as the main character in his book – and he has written her a horrific fate.
Will she be able to stop life imitating art before it’s too late?
The story begins when our central character, who is never named, is assaulted on her way home from work. She is pregnant at this time in the book. She gets home and tells her husband. Both are clearly shocked at what has happened. They call the police and also the midwife. The midwife calls round later that evening to check up on the baby.
The midwife asks “What about you, though, hun?” “How are you?”
“So long as the baby’s okay” I said “I’m okay.”
She said “You know, women say that all the time. But I don’t always believe them.”
Skip 3 years later and now a mother to Sammy, she is desperate to leave London. She has been job hunting and is offered a job, however it appears though as she has been thinking of starting something and somewhere new her husband has not, and when she accepts the job offer the husband decides he will not be going with her. He is a teacher and can not leave mid term. In the meantime he will stay on in London visiting her and Sammy at weekends and school holidays.
Her new job is at a university in the North and the story follows her as we find that her new life is possibly about to become even worst than what she wants to leave behind.
I read this book a few weeks ago but have really struggled to put a review into words. It’s quiet a different read and hard to review without going too much into the plot. I also don’t seem to have connected with it as much as many others have and this always throws me. Have I missed something? Is it me? Am I not a ‘worthy’ reviewer?? Insecurities, insecurities……But as this has happened a few times to me recently I still wanted to put something down onto paper, (or in this case blog) I’ve read the book so I want to record my thoughts….so here they are.
I’ve seen it described as a literary thriller/crime novel and it’s a good description. If you wanted a fast paced thriller or a descriptive crime novel this is neither. It’s written entirely from our main character’s perspective and I felt this somehow gave it a dream like quality which I liked yet at the same time it also made me feel that in the main part I only got one side of the full picture of what is happening. I liked the atmospheric setting of the rural location to which she moves to. The parts in which the house and surrounding fields are mentioned gave me some lovely imagery and added wonderfully to the characters feelings of isolation and of being a newcomer to the area. I loved the relationship she has with her little boy he seemed a lovely character. I picked up on the ways she spoke to him even in moments when she was frightened and afraid so that her fear wouldn’t transfer onto him.
This book isn’t necessarily an easy read as it involves some heavy issues. Assault, mental health, marital breakdown, and to be fair to the book I really wasn’t in the mood to read it and should have left it to another time but as it was a recent release I felt the ‘pressure’ to read it there and then. I really enjoyed the later part of the book when the story of one of the student starts to become known and I also found it interesting reading the different interactions she has with different colleagues at the university. I also liked the idea of the student’s stories interspersed within the book, but apart from one I found the others just interrupted the flow.
If you haven’t already read other reviews please do so, as we all have different opinions, and life would be rather dull if we didn’t!!
This was a charity shop find for me but The Body Lies was released on June 13th so is available for purchase now!