The Body Lies

The Body Lies


When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote countryside, it’s meant to be a fresh start, away from the big city and the scene of a violent assault she’s desperate to forget. But when one of her students starts sending in chapters from his novel that blur the lines between fiction and reality, the professor recognises 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?

Our Review

I first heard about The Body Lies at Newark book festival so this review will be relatively short as I have discussed some things in the review of the event I attended there.

I am not going to lie and say this was an easy book to read because it wasn’t. There were some things that were very hard to read. One of those things was the incident which caused the protagonist to want to move somewhere more remote.

“It was on the busy, dirty Anerly Road in South London that the man hit me.”

She was pregnant when the incident happened and had never managed to feel safe again even years later. Her husband didn’t quite understand why she still couldn’t stop thinking about it years later.  From a woman’s perspective though I think it is easy to see why she couldn’t just forget about it.

“I went to dodge past him, but he sidestepped into my path. I back away but he comes with me; every move was anticipated. And all the time he was talking, his breath on my face. The smell of him…. So this is what the world is like. I had no idea.”

Three years later she has stopped talking about it but she still thinks about it all the time and never feels safe, so she decides she needs to find a job somewhere else and move. The only snag is when she eventually finds somewhere her husband is reluctant to move with her because he doesn’t want to leave his job. In the end they decide that she will take the job and leave with their three-year-old son and he will stay in London and they will visit each visit whenever possible.

The cottage she moves to seems to her to contain the safety she was looking for but there are clues for the reader from the beginning if you care to look.

“The car dipped down the hill and round the bend and out of sight. And I felt it then, the first ripple of apprehension. Now it was just me and Sam and the empty countryside and undifferentiated time till Monday morning and not a soul that I knew, not for hundreds of miles.”

Her name job was to tech students how to write a novel, a job which she felt vastly underqualified for. The course provides a whole host of unusual characters for the reader to interact with and each one provides extracts from their work thus introducing a variety of writing styles into the novel.

Jo Baker certainly knows how to give a reader the chills. One such moment was when she is in the cottage with her son on a rainy evening and Sammy sees something.

“What do you see Sammy?”

He leaned in closer, breath misting the pane, eyes narrowing. And he said, “man.”

When I heard this extract at Newark book festival it gave me the creeps even though it was the middle of the day and I had to buy the book.

I mentioned earlier in the review that The Body Lies wasn’t always the easiest read and there was one particular bit which could prove difficult reading. This extract does contain a SPOILER and a scene of sexual assault. The reason I chose to include the extract is that perfectly illustrates the importance of consent.

“I let it happen, because it was going to happen anyway, and this way it would happen without me getting hit.

While he fucked me I was cold and sore and tired and also kind of bored. I wanted it out. I felt old, and fat and ugly and disgusting…

And he said, ‘it’s okay, it’s okay.’ He touched my chin. It really wasn’t okay. It was very far from okay, but I wasn’t going to say that.”

So, like I said it wasn’t an easy read by any means but it was a great one.





Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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