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Season To Taste Or How To Eat Your Husband – Natalie Young Review

Season To Taste Or How To Eat Your Husband – Natalie Young Review

season-to-taste-coverReleased: July 2014

The cover of this book with its innocuous stock pot simmering on the stove, or the alternative one with a knife and fork, doesn’t suggest how difficult the contents of this story may be to digest. The title does. Lizzie, the protagonist or heroine as some may prefer to call her, doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would murder her husband. From the outset she seems calm, organised, logical, methodical, noticing every detail, which is exactly how she deals with her husband after his death.

Just like in a Grimm’s tale Lizzie and her husband Jacob live in a small cottage near the edge of the woods. Lizzie seems an inoffensive women, tall and gangly with frizzy hair, maybe a little highly strung, lonely or bored but certainly not a mad woman. However, having murdered Jacob, Lizzie sizes up the implications and decides that the best way of disposing of him is not to bury him but to eat him.

Jacob had long accused Lizzie of having no imagination yet when she describes the way she will deal with him this becomes very difficult to believe and it is easier to imagine why she came to hate Jacob enough to kill him. Lizzie spends plenty of time deliberating whether each body part will be better roasted, braised, rubbed with seasoning and barbecued, stir fried or maybe sautéed in a little garlic butter. The recipes are endless. She describes the best methods for butchering and seasoning him, maybe massaging the joints a little before cooking and promises herself that as a reward she may turn vegetarian later if she wants to. In fact she offers up some rather tasty recipes for preparing meat which I will probably never use because at this moment I feel like becoming totally vegetarian.

Lizzie writes helpful little notes to herself to keep herself going. My favourite occurs about halfway through the book and almost halfway through munching her way through Tom’s remains. ‘What you have done this weekend is remarkable’ she says in a way that is almost a nod to the reader. Keep going. It will all be worth it in the end. And in a way it is. Lizzie’s character never falters, even her madness is a completely convincing one. I haven’t got the strongest of stomachs so didn’t find it as funny as some may but I did find the practical way she dealt with the difficult arrangements of dissecting the body as well as the notes to herself amusing.

Lizzie manages to separate the tasks in hand like a true physician. Taking away all human, emotive responses and replacing them with cold surgical facts while narrating the most intimate details about their marriage. Because the story of their marriage is so closely interwoven with the narration of the gruesome and delicately intimate details of the butchery involved that I often felt perversely voyeuristic reading it, yet it is almost impossible to skim read as too much detail is lost. Despite the appalling content the novel is exquisitely written.

At some point during the consumption of her husband Lizzie realises that it is better not to prolong the agony but get it over and done with as soon as possible and I felt a little like that reading the book. I knew that if I put it down I would not be able to pick it up and start again so read it all in one sitting. When she gets to the brain I had to take a deep breath and skip on past, which is unfortunate because I probably missed some wonderfully written prose and brilliant observations about married life.

Extra suspense comes into the story when Lizzie befriends a young man from the village, Tom. I’m not always a fan of dual narratives but in this case I welcomed Tom’s accounts because he offers a respite from the stomach churning accounts of dissecting body parts. Meanwhile a sense of suspense builds as there is always the possibility that Lizzie may implicate him in her process. For all these reasons the book was utterly compulsive reading and I would like to say this to Natalie Young-what you have achieved is remarkable!

★★★★

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