Saturday 24 September 2016

The Butcher's Hook

This novel is not for the faint- hearted.

I thought it was another account of another powerless, young woman living within the confines of a patriarchal society, in love with her social inferior and forced to betroth an elderly rich man
And it is
Up to a point
But more concerned with…. beyond that point
Jealousy, revenge, obsessive love….
Think Jacobean Tragedies or Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, who pales in comparison to our 19 year old anti heroine.

When I discovered that Anne Jaccob kept dead mice, dead spiders and finger nails… “a morbid tableau,” I should have known.

But in this first person narrative you are inside her head, making allowances, constantly adjusting, caught in a struggle with your own conscience.
She has you, the reader, caught on that butcher’s hook.

Some of her characters are caricatures like Titus Levener, the master butcher, “Great slabs of flesh swell beneath his shoulders…his neck circles hugely around to his back and balloons in front where it joins his many chins..”
And, with names like Fub and Onions, they belong in the pages of a Dicken’s novel.
But this novel is set a century earlier, Georgian London, the summer of 1763.

I have already given enough spoilers … 
suffice to say 
you won’t put it down till you finish it…
you may well skip to the last page to see if she gets a way with it…
you will rush back to the library with it, just to get rid of it…
but it will haunt you.

A very skilful, edgy, sophisticated piece of work.

The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis, published by Two Roads 2016

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