Friday 19 January 2018

An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato @LodatoElisa @wnbooks @JenKerslake

When Katharine is found dead at the foot of her stairs, it is the mystery of her life that consumes her daughter, Laura.
The medical examiner's report, in which precious parts of Katharine's body are weighed and categorised, motivates Laura to write her own version of events; to bear witness to the unbearable blank space between each itemised entry.
It forces her to confront a new version of the woman she knew only as her mother - a woman silenced by her own mother, and wronged by her husband. A woman who felt shackled by tradition and unable to love freely.
With the heart of a memoir and the pace of a thriller, An Unremarkable Body reveals an overwhelming desire to make sense of an unfulfilled life - and to prove that an unremarkable body does not mean an unremarkable life.

An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato was published  by W&N on 14 December 2017 and is the author's debut novel. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

How is it possible, that just over two weeks into 2018, I have discovered so many wonderful books, and fabulous new authors? An Unremarkable Body is one of those, and I am positive that this one is going to have a place on my top books of the year list at the end of 2018.

Laura's mother Katharine, is dead. Laura discovered her at the foot of the stairs, it was a shock that she is finding very difficult to deal with, and when she receives the medical examiner's report with the most personal of details of her mother's body, she finds herself examining her relationship with her mother.

An Unremarkable Body is cleverly and neatly structured; each chapter begins with a few lines from the medical report, and from these, Laura creates her own history. Whilst the medical examiner considers Katharine's body to be unremarkable, Laura knows that every single mark and scar bears witness to what really was a remarkable life, and without doubt, a remarkable woman. From the small scar on the back of her neck, to the fractured ulna; each and every one allows Laura to remember.

This is a beautifully written novel which has mystery running through it, yet it is so much more than that. It is a poignant, emotionally challenging and at times, quite heartbreaking story of a woman who was held back by life and circumstances, but whose impact is felt by many.

Elisa Lodato's characterisation is quite wonderfully done, both Laura and Katharine are exposed, their inner thoughts and fears laid bare for the reader, their uneasy and difficult relationships are examined and explained, it really is an evocative and very compulsive read.

An Unremarkable Body is warm, compassionate and quite brilliant. I was entranced by both the story and by the alluring writing.  Highly recommended, and I look forward to reading more from this extraordinarily talented author.

Elisa grew up in London and read English at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

After graduating she went to live in Japan where she developed a love of cherry blossom and tempura. On returning to the UK she spent many happy years working for Google before training to become an English teacher. Helping pupils to search for meaning in a text inspired Elisa to take up the pen and write her own. Her first novel, An Unremarkable Body, was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2016 and was published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson in 2017.

Elisa lives in Surrey with her husband and two children. 

Follow her on Twitter @LodatoElisa

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