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Season to TasteReview - Season to Taste
A Novel
by Natalie Young
Hachette Audio, 2014
Review by Christian Perring
Sep 30th 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 40)

The subtitle of the British edition of this novel is "or How to Eat Your Husband," and the heart of the book is made clear in the first pages.  Lizzie has killed her husband Jacob, and she has decided to do away with the evidence by consuming his body.  They are in southern England and they have lived together in unhappiness for a long time, and she ruminates on their marriage as she cooks and eats Jacob. It is a physically repulsive process, and much of the book is Lizzie's advice to herself about how to accomplish the task, contrasted with a third person narrator telling the reader about what Lizzie or other characters are thinking and doing. She has to cope with her own retching and guilt.  Then there are the practicalities about how to get rid of large bones and eat parts of the body that do not have much meat. Lizzie plans to move away from their small town and live in Scotland, so the big question is whether she will get away with her crime and be able to move away from her former life.

Most readers are going to find this book too much. It is unpleasant to contemplate the cooking and eating of a person, and this is described in detail.  Might it be worth the effort?  What is author Natalie Young trying to achieve? There seems to be some macabre humor but for the most part the book is serious. It's mostly about the anger that can build up in marriage, showing how bad a relationship can get. But there's also something about the extremity of experience and how it can lead to distortions of reality.  We see Lizzie from the perspective of others, and she seems to be acting strangely. But for the majority of the time she just seems to be anxious rather than delusional.

Season to Taste is an odd book, and although it is not easy to consume nor very digestible, it does stay with you.  The unabridged audiobook is performed by Gemma Whelan, who keeps up a surprisingly chipper tone.  She does not provide very different voices for different characters, and that can sometimes be confusing, but she speaks with some gusto.

 

© 2014 Christian Perring

 

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York

 


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