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The Body Lies

  • Fester Einband
  • 288 Seiten
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A dark, thrilling new novel from the best-selling author of Longbourn: a work of riveting psychological suspense that grapples wit... Weiterlesen
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Beschreibung

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.

“Jo Baker’s The Body Lies is gripping and strange in the best possible way: the perfect marriage of risky literary fiction and full-on thriller.” —Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette

“With high-stakes storytelling and riveting suspense, this story goes beyond just a simple mystery as it addresses some of our own major societal problems.”—Today

“A must read . . . With an unflinching eye, Baker deftly explores the pressure, judgment, and dangers women are subjected to on a daily basis simply because they are female. Her brilliant novel is a scathing indictment of the many ways society excoriates women while excusing violent men.” —Kristine Huntley, Booklist (starred)

“Beautiful words wrapped around brutal truths—The Body Lies is a novel for now . . . It’s an outstanding story.” —Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go

“An ingenious and electrifying setup that explores the boundary between fact and fiction . . . a gripping psychological thriller that combines fiendish mind games and riveting drama with a timely examination of male entitlement and female struggle . . . beguiling us, transporting us and terrifying us for good measure.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Baker’s heroine is one of the most believable I’ve seen on the page in a long time . . . nuanced, non-linear, lifelike. The truthfulness of this creation carries us as long as the story shifts gear from literary fiction to thriller . . . Baker manipulates these gears masterfully, and the final chapters deliver the heart-in-mouth genre denouement we’ve been waiting for.”The Times Literary Supplement 

“All too plausible, Baker’s powerful tale is at times heart-rending to read—and impossible to put down.” Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Baker boldly and refreshingly insists on changing the narrative surrounding sexual assault. The Body Lies isn’t another story of a silent, naked, dead girl. … Indeed, this novel is the story of a survivor, not a victim.”BookPage

“I read The Body Lies in one sitting. As a thriller, it grips and shocks; as a portrayal of the way women move through the world, and the way men see them, it has never been more timely. Absolutely stunning.” —Erin Kelly, author of He Said/She Said

The Body Lies is a train of brilliantly realized scenes that can speed the reader along, but it is better to stop now and then to ponder the issues raised by this thought-provoking book. Not a conventional ‘summer read’ perhaps, but a rewarding one.”The Washington Times

“There’s something cleverer going on in The Body Lies; its clout is in the sexual politics behind its deft contrast between the fictional depiction of violence against women and the stark, isolating reality.”—Siobhan Murphy, The Times (UK)
 
“This is an exceptionally well-written psychological thriller.”The Mail on Sunday (UK)

The Body Lies sets itself large challenges . . . combining the satire of the campus novel with the high drama of the thriller. Baker is a writer who can make it all work. Beyond the dubious fun of the chase, the pleasure of reading this novel is seeing writerly ambition fulfilled.”The Guardian (UK)

Autorentext
JO BAKER was born in Lancashire and educated at Oxford University and Queen's University Belfast. She is the author of the best-selling novel Longbourn, as well as A Country Road, A Tree; The Undertow; The Telling; The Mermaid's Child; and Offcomer. She lives in Lancaster, England.

Klappentext

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.



Leseprobe
Excerpted from The Body Lies


The beck is frozen into silence. Snow falls. It muffles the roads, bundles up the houses, deepens the meadows, turns the river black by contrast. It settles along the grey-green twigs and branches of the beech wood, sifts like sugar to the hard earth below—and dusts the young woman curled there, her skin blue-white, dark hair tumbled over her face. She doesn’t say a word; she doesn’t even shiver now. Her breath comes thinly.

A deer, scraping at the snow for roots, stops, and snuffs the air, and scents her, and turns to move silently from the place.

Above the canopy, the sky is clear, the moon stands full. An owl scuds across the meadow, drops to kill a vole. In the shadow of the beech tree, there is stillness, not a breath. The body lies.

*

It was on the busy, dirty Anerley Road in South London that the man hit me. It was the nineteenth of September, it was around quarter past seven in the evening, and I was walking downhill from the train station to our flat after a shift at the bookshop. The weather had been fine in the morning when I set out for work, but now it was raining, and I wasn’t dressed for it.
I had just crossed the railway bridge when I noticed someone running up the hill towards me. He was wearing black trackies and a blue anorak; he had the hood up, toggle pulled tight against the rain, and was running easily, a steady lope. He said something as he went by. I didn’t quite catch it.

If I had been at a distance, watching me, rather than being stuck inside my own head, I would have seen the man slow down, come to a halt, and turn, and stare. Then I would have seen him run back down the hill towards me. I’d have seen something like that, anyway.

But as it was, I just saw the streaks of streetlamp on the pave­ment, and felt the hush of cars passing in the rain, and felt the cold damp seeping through my jacket; my hands, in my pockets, rested against the bulge of my belly. I was thinking that my back ached, and that I really needed new shoes and that tomorrow, on my day off, I’d finally screw up courage to phone Mum; if I left it any later it’d be a whole heap of new offence for her to take. I became aware of the sound of running footsteps behind me, and I moved aside, towards the dark trees, to let what I thought was another runner past.

But it was the same guy. He ducked in front of me, smiling. He spoke again, and this time I caught what he was saying. He was telling me what he’d like to do to me.

I went to dodge past him, but he sidestepped into my path. I backed away, but he came with me; every move was anticipated. And all the time he was talking, his breath on my face. The smell of him. He forced me further back, between the dark trees, up against the wire fence. Then his body was on mine; I could feel his hard-on pushing at my belly. I shoved at him, struggled, but was hamstrung by strangeness: I couldn’t process. I thought, I thought, This is really happening. I thought, I should be handling this better.

“Get off me.” I pushed at him.

A hand mauled at my breast.

“Fuck’s sake, get off me.”

And then a hand clamped over my mouth. He was telling me what he was going to do to my body, and I thought, There is noth­ing I can do to stop this. Cars streamed past behind him in the wet; someone walked by on the far side of the street, umbrella tilted in our direction. I was pinned. I couldn’t shout. I could hardly breathe. I twisted my head aside, desperate for breath. His hand slipped, and I got my teeth around it. I bit.

He swore and jerked away. His weight was off me. He looked at me, shaking out his hand. I staggered to go around him, but he caught me by the shoulder and swung me back. I saw it coming; I just stood there. His fist slammed into my jaw. My head whipped back. My teeth clashed together. I fell back into the branches, the wire fence sinking beneath me.

So this is what the world is like. I had no idea.

I have a clear image of him standing there, over me, in the light of the streetlamp and in the rain, his blue hood still pulled tight like some kind of hazard gear, like handling me was some­how contaminating but necessary; there was water beading on his face, and he was smiling like he was smiling for a photograph. And he was, I suppose. He must have known it would be indel­ible, that image; that I would be stuck with it forever. That I’d remember him forever, and I’d always be afraid.

Because then he just turned and loped away. I watched till he was over the cusp of the hill, to be certain he had gone.

My jaw hurt and when I reached up to touch it there was blood. I straightened out my jacket, smoothed it over my belly. I felt like I’d done something stupid. I made my way back towards the flat.

Two huge men were sitting on the front steps of our build­ing, eating fried chicken under the shelter of the doorway. They glanced up at me, then shunted aside to let me pass.

*

I told Mark what had happened and he hugged me.

“Oh my God,” he said.

He let me go, held me at arm’s length and looked long at me. He went pink. “Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.”

I nodded, eyes full.

“What kind of an asshole would do a thing like that?”

I didn’t have an answer. He touched my belly, looking me in the eyes.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong,” I said. “He only hit me in the face.”

I went to the bathroom and washed my face and peered down my top at the red marks on my breast. I stuck the split on my chin together with Steri-Strips. Mark brought in a cup of tea and winced again at the sight of my chin.

“I mean, Jesus.” And he went silent and shook his head. “I’m going to call the police,” he said.

I blew a breath, still staring at the mirror.

He closed the bathroom door; I could hear him in the sitting room, phoning the local station.

Mark held my hand. We sat side by side on the sofa. I told the officers what had happened and it felt like we were playing parts, like Mark and I were story of the week in some TV drama; that the police were the regular actors who were there for whole careers.

The officers said they’d be in touch, and then they went away. Mark fetched me a blanket and lifted my feet up onto the sofa and brought me tea and toast, and then he rang our midwife. She called by late that evening, at the end of her rounds. She took a squint at my Steri-Strips and said I’d done a decent job of it. Then she had me lie down and bare my belly and the three of us listened to the baby’s squelch and squish heartbeat on her little monitor. She smiled at me over my bulge and I smiled unevenly back at her.

“What about you, though, hon?” she asked. “How are you?”

“So long as the baby’s okay,” I said, “I’m okay.”

She said, “You know, women say that all the time. But I don’t always believe them.”

*

I didn’t get around to calling Mum. Not that day, nor the next. Good news is one thing to spread around; bad news, though, I screw the lid down tight and nothing gets out.

Mark was reluctant to go to work, but I said not to worry, I’d be fine. I’d have to be fine eventually and I might as well start now. He said he’d skip out directly after school, get someone else to cover Homework Club; he’d be home by five. It was my day off, which struck me as a bit of a waste, but at least I didn’t have to call Sinead and explain why I wasn’t coming in.

I tried to fill the time. I tried to write but I couldn’t. I tried to read but I couldn’t. I wanted an apple, but there were no apples in the flat, so I went out to buy some. I got as far as the front door of the building. Someone skimmed past on a bike; cars hurtled by; a loud tangle of lads came jostling down the pavement. I closed the door and went back up the stairs to our flat and locked the door. I texted Mark.

Mark came home just after five with a bag of Granny Smiths. He also brought a stack of work with him. He said he’d had to tell Amy what had happened; he hoped I didn’t mind. He couldn’t dump Homework Club on her without some kind of explanation. She sent her love, and hoped I was feeling better soon.

“That’s nice,” I said. But I didn’t like that Amy knew.

It hurt to eat apples: it made the cut on my chin weep.

Over the coming days, the bruise faded, the cut healed, and I managed to leave the flat. I made it into work. I started getting the bus to and from the station, rather than walk.

I was okay, I thought. I was getting over it. It could have been so much worse.

I received a quiet kind letter from Victim Support. They offered emotional and practical help; all I had to do was make myself an appointment. I left the letter on the kitchen counter with the reminder for the gas bill, and the council tax statement, and the club card vouchers.

I met up with Dad. He bought me lunch at Brown & Green. I didn’t have to tell him about the baby; I just waddled in and his eyes lit on my belly and then up to meet mine, and then just, whumpf, they filled up. He was on his feet and pushing past the table and hugged me. I’d waited till the bruise had faded; he didn’t notice the scar. It’s on the underside of my chin and you’d have to know it was there to see it. We talked and talked and he promised that he would talk to Mum too; he was sure that she’d come around. Two days later there was a card in the post—Congratulations!, a picture of a big-eyed teddy bear in dungarees holding a bunch of balloons—and a cheque for a hundred pounds. Buy yourself some­thing nice, he wrote in the card; he’d signed it from Mum and Dad. So she hadn’t come around after all. I bought groceries.

I made an appointment with the dentist: while I was preg­nant treatment was free. I told her I’d chipped my tooth falling off my bike. She wanted to know what I was doing, riding a bike in London, in my condition? Or indeed at all, ever? And more importantly did I carry an organ donor card? Because anything else was a waste of good fresh kidneys. She peered into my mouth and decided there wasn’t any point trying to repair the tooth. I’d stop noticing it, she said, in time.

*

I said to Mark one evening, “I wonder what is going on in some­one’s life, that they feel the need to do a thing like that.”

He looked up from his book. “Is this about that guy?”

“I mean, maybe if I hadn’t bitten him. Violence begets vio­lence, doesn’t it. Maybe he wouldn’t have punched me.”

“Don’t do that, don’t blame yourself. Jesus.”

“I’m just trying to understand.”

He hesitated, then he said, “You need to let it go, love.”

I chewed my lip.

“It’s not doing you any good, brooding on it like this.” He leaned over to stroke my arm. “You have to let it go. You can’t let it change your life.”

The following day, I saw Blue Anorak Man in the street. He shot past on a bike while I was waiting for the bus. I think it was him. I managed to get on board and sit down. I couldn’t stop shaking. The bus pulled away. We ground our way uphill, in the opposite direction, and I realised that whilst he was fixed like a photograph in my mind, he might not even recognise me.

A few weeks after that, the bus didn’t come, and didn’t come and I had to walk. Heading downhill towards Thicket Road, some­one came running up behind me. I froze, waiting for the crash of him back into me. But nothing happened. A woman ran past in black-and-pink leggings and pink vest top. She jogged on down the street, bouncing ponytail, swinging elbows. I felt a rush of love for her, for her just running by without a backwards glance. But I was still shaking when I got back to the flat.

And then the baby was born. My little boy. Samuel. Sammy. Sam. He was squashed and purple and skinny and his two-weeks-overdue arrival nearly did for both of us. After a shaky start, he just got on with the business of being a baby and became more beautiful and funny every day.

Produktinformationen

Titel: The Body Lies
Untertitel: A novel
Autor:
EAN: 9780525656111
ISBN: 978-0-525-65611-1
Format: Fester Einband
Herausgeber: Random House N.Y.
Genre: Krimis, Thriller & Horror
Anzahl Seiten: 288
Jahr: 2019