A young writer flees up north to a teaching position after a violent assault in the city leaves her desperate for escape. With her young son in tow and her husband struggling to make ends meet hundreds of miles away, she throws herself into her work; lesson plans, lectures, and her own writing. Her Creative Writing Masters students grapple with each others work with rising tempers, spurred on by the mysterious Nicholas; a brooding rich kid with talent, but talent that comes with a complicated past. When Nicholas begins to blur the lines between personal and professional, and fiction and reality, the narrator grasp on her own storyline begins to slip.
I was struggling with my own question of whether there was a way to write female without writing body, and whether the was a way to be female without being reduced to body
I’ve seen reviews for Jo Baker’s The Body Lies floating around the blogosphere since it was published last year, always raving about it. I don’t know whether this hype had already set me up for disappointment but The Body Lies just didn’t live up to my expectations.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. After struggling to even pick up a book for the past two months, I devoured this, and it really kicked my ass back into reading-mode. It’s fast-paced, interesting, self-referential. I think it tries to say a lot about crime fiction and women and their bodies but I don’t know if a) it succeeds in saying it, and b) if what it’s trying to say is even particularly interesting or groundbreaking. Maybe I wasn’t in the right headspace for it. I didn’t even realise until writing this review that the narrator didn’t have a name. That fact, which is clearly supposed to serve some purpose, completely passed me by. I never fully engaged with the characters enough to notice that I didn’t even know the narrator’s name.
I enjoyed reading The Body Lies, I just don’t know that it did anything special. Which is fine. But after the rave reviews I’d read for it, I was expecting special.
Rating: 3 stars