The Body Lies by Jo Baker

The Body Lies

Jo Baker

At once a breathless cat-and-mouse game and a layered interrogation of the fetishization of the female body, The Body Lies gives us an essential story for our time that will have you checking the locks on your doors.

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A dark, thrilling new novel from the best-selling author of Longbourn: a work of riveting psychological suspense that grapples with how to live as a woman in the world--or in the pages of a book--when the stakes are dangerously high.

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote English countryside, it's meant to be a fresh start, away from the bustle of London and the scene of a violent assault she is desperate to forget. But despite the distractions of her new life and the demands of single motherhood, her nerves continue to jangle. To make matters worse, a vicious debate about violence against women inflames the tensions and mounting rivalries in her creative-writing class. When a troubled student starts turning in chapters that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognizes 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? At once a breathless cat-and-mouse game and a layered interrogation of the fetishization of the female body, The Body Lies gives us an essential story for our time that will have you checking the locks on your doors.


Advance Galley Reviews

When the unnamed narrator takes a university teaching job in a rural area, away from her husband and London home, she intends to make a new start though she's still traumatized by an assault while she was pregnant three years before. While the move does indeed change everything, not in the way she had hoped. Isolated with her toddler in a remote area, she finds herself pressured to take on a mountain of extra work while presented with challenging students in her creative writing course. Things rapidly go from bad to worse; she's assaulted by her most promising student and her husband announces he's lonely, has started an affair and wants a divorce. All in all an absorbing and heart-rending story as she seeks to work through it all.

A moody gothic-like novel of psychological suspense. Perfect for fans of Under The Harrow and The Looney. 4 brilliant stars.

This book was very slow starting. Once the “relationship” between the professor and student begins to heat up, the story was hard to put down.

It was ok....it's billed as a suspenseful thriller.....but I really didn't get that out of it. I hate to say it, but I thought it kind of just a flat story...I never felt real warmed up/in to the main character, or any of the characters for that matter...it just felt like 'a story.' Certainly readable, but it won't keep you up all night wondering what's going to happen! I received this e-ARC from Penguin's First-To-Read giveaway program, in return for reading it & offering my own fair & honest review.

This was a pretty good read; it was medium paced and (especially toward the end) it picked up and delivered some thrills and shocks. Overall, I think some of the subplots were unnecessary, or weren't fleshed out enough and were left open-ended and confusing. The main plot was good, if at times predictable and slow. I didn't feel much of a connection to the main character, and often felt she saw herself as nothing more than a victim. There were moments of strength from her, but overall, she was pretty flat, on dimensional, and forgettable. I liked the book, but I don't think it delivers the fast-paced thrill ride that I was expecting.

A women takes a job away from her husband to help support them and her son. She is in a new job where she has no previous experience. But because she had a book that was published she is teaching others about how to write a book. Because of something that happened in her past she is cautious but still seams to make the wrong decisions. Then something transpires with one of her students. ( I don't want to give anything away). And you learn more about the student and her neighbors which fills in the story. Reading this book was kind of like someone telling you about a time in there life within a period of about 3 years. The main character was like able, although sometimes I questioned her judgement. And It was a good story to read. I did like it, but it was not a book I would go on and on about. I gave this book 3 stars.

I could not finish this book. The characters never captured my attention. Took an instant dislike to the husband. Usually I love these types of books but this one didn’t do it for me.

This was a powerful read and I really connected with it - even when I was hating the decisions being made by nearly everyone at nearly every step of the way... I'm not sure I'd call it "thrilling psychological suspense" or "a breathless cat-and-mouse game" though, and am afraid the billing will set up some readers for a disappointment the book doesn't deserve. This is a slow-burn, thoughtful, provocative look at what it means to be a victim and a woman, and even though the categories overlap here, I think the messages are bigger than that and don't have to. At every step of the way, I found myself second-guessing the decisions being made, rolling my eyes, and cringing - and then a few pages later wondering whether I wouldn't have done many of the same things were I in the protagonist's shoes. This was an unusually introspective book for me, particularly given that my life is/has been absolutely NOTHING like hers. There's an undercurrent of fear that underpins everything she does, coupled with a sense of the inevitability of disappointment and settling for whatever is handed to her. I am happy to say I've never felt that steady negative influence in my own life, but I could still relate to it and it made the read feel very personal and resonant. I do think that things took a slightly forced turn when things came to a head with her "troubled student" and his writing. It felt like the book shifted gears from the more inward-focused tone of the beginning to the higher-octane promise of the blurb. Frankly, I could have done without that bit of forced drama. Tension and threat were twin malevolent forces that permeated the book from the beginning and there didn't need to be any extra action on the table for me to identify the pervasive sense of menace that she lived under throughout the entire story. Still, the book as a whole worked well despite that shift in pacing. I think it didn't upset the flow for me because of the multiple narrative perspectives and sidebars from the main story that the students' stories provided throughout. Oddly, they brought me more fully into their class and their lives, rather than distracted me (which I think often happens with a story-within-the-story). It made the whole book a little unsettling, which was (I think) the point. Jo Baker is definitely on my "to watch" list now. She encapsulated what it means to be afraid - ontologically, cosmically afraid - in a way that felt palpable and relatable without ever feeling overblown. There's a line at the end (it's not really a spoiler but sort of so I won't say more) about a boy growing into a man who will always know what it is to not be safe. It blew me away in its stark simplicity and spot-on encapsulation of the way that fear and safety shape our decisions and personalities - and ultimately, our lives. This was a powerful story and one that will stick with me.

The Body Lies was an intriguing book. The perpetrator was never really a secret but it was interesting to see how the whole story unfolded. I kept hoping the narrator would make different decisions as I could see her hopeful misjudgment was going to turn out badly for her. The dark, gloomy atmosphere of the setting enhanced the bleak tone throughout the book. Good read.

This is being marketed as "thrilling suspense" and I don't think that is describing the book well and may set people up for a disappointment. In my opinion this is a very well written book that slowly plods along somewhat suspense-fully. I don't mean slow in a negative way. It's more of a very thoughtful story. One where I think the author put an enormous effort into the words and characters to bring the reader along a circuitous route to the end. My main issue with this book was I just wasn't sure the MC acted authentically. She just seems to allow negative things to happen to her without much of a fight. Not necessarily a physical fight, but I kept thinking to myself I could understand her being weak but I couldn't understand her not being angry. Don't most people get angry when bad things happen to them? Even though it might not be expressed outwardly, aren't people at least angry in their heads?? What I did find really enjoyable were the snippets of stories we got from the MC's creative writing students. I really want more of Karen's short stories!

 


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