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The Book of Human Skin
by Michelle Lovric

Release Date: 12th Apr 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978 1 4088 0588 6
RRP: £12.99

Average Customer Rating: 
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Insidious, disturbing and very, very cleverly written...

Schizophrenic in style; the narrative is splayed out from various perspectives and in numerous, distinctive voices; each of which benefit from subtle cues through their unique textual font.

Minguillo Fasan’s opening, laced with contemptuous goading, invites us to immediately loathe him as a character and sets him apart as the villain of the piece. Gianni is cast as the honest, yet lowly pauper (or in this instance, one of the long-serving help at Palazzo Espagnol) who speaks as he sees it – with all the derision of a visceral but ineffectual rant. Sor Loreta is portrayed magnificently as an insane zealot, determined from a young age to become a nun and for whom reality means little beyond her own understanding or interpretation – indeed, her self-delusion is both pitiable and terrifying. Doctor Santo Aldobrandini is perhaps the most complex of the characters that are so neatly arranged for our amusement; having both a sense of morality and an emotional detachment from the human condition – an observer of skin. And so the stage is set with deftness and sleight of hand, rather like a Shakespearean play – and like all that great writer’s plays – there is dancing around events and a gloriously reprehensible interplay between the unworthy villain and the much-wronged heroine: in this case, Minguillo’s younger sister, Marcella.

As the story turns on the idea of a book inhabited within human skin; so the novel itself is strikingly clothed: a bright red cover with dark black tinged pages conjures up blood and death and fits perfectly the macabre quirkiness of its contents. Lovric is a master storyteller. With effortless artistry, she creates a pervasive tale with the smallest and simplest of strokes.


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