The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric 4/8

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Sounds gross right? Well it pretty much is - it is also marvellous and stuffed full with villainy. This story is told by 5 different people, aristocrats Marcella and Minguillo Fasan, medical assistant doctor Santo, Peruvian nun Lor Soreto and manservant Gianni. Michelle Lovric stitches her book together with these five strands and by doing so she sculptures a 3D story that can be approached by every angle. Only releasing information in  teasing snippets, she leaves the reader willing her to reveal more.

Marcella is a our damsel in distress whilst her brother, Minguillo attempts to bury the key and keep her dead to world. Enter Doctor Santo, a knight in shining armour who dwells in poverty and falls for our damsel. Can love overcome everything, or is Minguillo Fasan too powerful and deceitful? Selling his sister to an asylum and then a convent, Minguillo thinks he is set to inherit his father's estate...but Marcella has a few friends, and they've got a few plans of their own...

 I found myself galloping through the book much quicker than I had Grace William Says It Loud - I suspect this is because the text is much more flirtatious and diverts your attention to a detached history - whereas Grace Williams was a bit harder to digest as it was so horrific.

Similar to Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine the circular structure of the narrative lends itself to the fickle reader as passages are short and sharp, startling and seductive. Lovric's writing effortlessly switches voices keeping both the story and the reader connected as you move through the Venetian canals and board a ship to the exotic mountains of Peru.

This is a great commuter book, the chapters are in bite-size chunks so you've got time to chomp on a few chapters before you need to hop off the train.

I'm giving this book a 8/10, it is repulsively seductive and unnaturally charming. You might want to take a closer look at those leather-binded books on your shelf though...

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