Bookshots: 'Season To Taste or How To Eat Your Husband' by Natalie Young
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
Season To Taste or How To Eat Your Husband
Who Wrote It?
Natalie Young, former reviewer for The Times, Books and Arts Editor of Prospect Magazine, author of one previous novel, We All Ran Into The Sunlight (2011)
Plot in a Box:
Lizzie Prain batters her husband to death with a spade, deposits his carved-up carcass in her freezer and, chunk by defrosted chunk, cooks and eats him (serving suggestions included).
Invent a New Title For This Book:
Meat is Murder
Read This if You Liked:
Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, Bruce Aidells’ The Great Meat Cookbook
Meet the Book’s Lead:
Lizzie Prain is a middle-aged housewife living in an isolated cottage in the damp English countryside. She entered into marriage with Jacob for solid enough reasons (“He had a house. I didn’t.”), only to find herself sentenced to emotional and aspirational jail for thirty years. Jacob starves her of affection, self-esteem and a purpose in life until one fateful day, she hefts a spade, and takes his life with her bare hands. Although written off by most people (including herself) as frumpy and ineffectual, Lizzie sets about ensuring her spur-of-the-moment mariticide is the perfect crime, by destroying the evidence in the best way she knows how—in her kitchen.
Said Lead Would Be Portrayed In a Movie By:
In the UK, Sarah Lancashire. If you wanted to go all Hollywood, I’d love to see what someone like Joan Allen would bring to Lizzie.
Setting: Would You Want to Live There?
On the plus side, this is a lovely, green area of Surrey (“off the A31 between Guildford and Farnham”), and the local pub sounds very cozy. Negatives include perpetual mud, ill-fitting wellies, and crazy neighbors who leave accusatory notes on your Volvo. And the terrible stench of human decay.
What Was Your Favorite Sentence?
106. You probably won’t feel like eating chicken ever again. No matter.
Most books about murder focus on the act of homicide (which can be all too instant and easy), so it makes a toothsome change to read one about the disposal of the body (always the most difficult aspect of the crime). Rather than dumping Jacob’s corpse in a shallow grave in the nearby woods, Lizzie opts for possibly the most slow and punishing method of getting rid of the evidence: cannibalism. Eating people isn’t as easy as it looks in horror movies — you need much, much more than a bubbling pot. The narrative delves into the gritty practical details of consuming another, whole, human being. Are your kitchen knives sharp enough? That’s a lot of flesh and bone to ingest — how will your digestive system respond? Are the soles of the feet really too tough to eat? Is the brain really the tastiest organ? After you’ve filleted the cheeks and blanched the eyes in a little oil, what do you do with the rest of the face?
As she slices her husband’s carcass into edible portions, one meal at a time, making a numbered series of notes to herself (or to anyone who might want to try this at home), Lizzie also dissects the sad truths of her marriage and her hitherto malnourished existence. Cannibalism is her final act of congress with Jacob, and it’s fascinating to witness. Natalie Young’s sparse prose captures Lizzie's daze and confusion as she eats, cooks, eats, and may take you to some dark places as you ponder the way your own current relationships sustain you. Is your significant other more nurturing alive or dead? At the very least, Season To Taste may cause you to glance a second time at the middle-aged woman ahead of you in the supermarket line buying garlic and rubber gloves. Exactly what kind of mess does she plan on cleaning up?
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