Friday, 6 March 2009

Under the Skin

Title: Under the Skin

Author: Michel Faber

Number of pages: 296

Started: 3 March 2009

Finished: 6 March 2009

Opening words:

"Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her."

Plot summary:

A lone female scouts the Scottish Highlands in search of well-proportioned men and the reader is given to expect the unfolding of some latter-day psychosexual drama. But commonplace expectation is no guide for this strange and deeply unsettling book; small details at first, then more major clues, suggest that something deeply bizarre is afoot. What are the reason's for Isserley's extensive surgical scarring, her thick glasses (which are just glass), her excruciating backache? Who are the solitary few who work on the farm where her cottage is located? And why are they all nervous about the arrival of someone called Amlis Vess?
The ensuing narrative is one of such cumulative, compelling strangeness that it almost defies description--the one thing that can be said with certainty is that Under The Skin is unlike anything else you have ever read. The result is a narrative of enormous imaginative and emotional coherence from a writer whose control of his medium is nearly flawless and who applies the rules of psychological realism to a fictional world that is terrifying and unearthly to the point that the reader's identification with Isserley becomes one of absolute sympathy.

What I thought:

This book was ok, but not one that I really enjoyed. I didn’t really get into this book, although it was well written and was perfectly readable. It had an element of sadness and gruesomeness and curiosity to it, but somehow it never really quite intrigued me enough to really engage me.

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