Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

skindeep

Length:  373 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book which is out this week!

What they say:

The deliciously sinister new novel from the No 1 bestselling author of Richard and Judy Book Club pick, Lying in Wait

‘I could probably have been an actress.
It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else.
Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.

The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .

The Review: This for me, was probably one of the books I’ve ‘seen’ the most this year, with so many excited to get their hands on it, after the legendary ‘Unravelling Oliver,’ which contains, for me, one of the best characters I’ve ever read, and also Lying in Wait, which I really really enjoyed too (review here) .

We meet our lead, Cordelia, wandering about the French Riviera, and get a shock as we realise that she’s wandering about to avoid the corpse that’s back in her flat. Okay. So the blurb is an ickle bit misleading (just a smidgen!) It could tell you that this book is less about what happens in the current time, and more of a trip back to Ireland, where we are told the story of someone who has had just the most tragic circumstances befall them, not always to their knowledge. We hear of a mum and dad and their tug of war, we experience one sidedness on it’s greatest level, which gives way to heartbreak and cynicism and anger and all kinds of betrayal (you’ll guess that I don’t really care about the blurb thing, I’m just warning you really!!), bundled together in an amazing way with many tales of folklore told by a father to his daughter leading to lessons and morals, on an Irish island that’s as far removed from civilisation as you can guess.

In general I read with a morbid fascination ( although I do have to admit at some times the pacing waned a little for me) unable to believe that such cruelty and manipulation could go on, both by the family and people of the island, and of course our lead. Liz Nugent’s stories are great at making me a better mum, because geney mac I totally believe ALL of her lead characters would have had a different path in life had they not had parents who they believed (and in most cases who had), wronged them/given up on them (oh lord, I’m reading this out loud in my Carrie from SATC voice again!).

The arrival to the epic (epic epic, in the proper sense of the word, not the way it’s thrown about nowadays!) conclusion is exemplary, shocking and fantastic, with pieces slotting into place seconds before the events happen (for people not as slow as me, perhaps it’s before this;)), and the ending is simply shocking, and one that’ll stay with you. Thanks so much to Penguin Ireland and Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

How the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards shape my reading @BGEIBAS #BGEIBA

ttishtydistresssignalslyinginwaitthegirlfromocdthismustbethemakingitupthebookoffatchancehistoropediagoodnightallweshallnothingthewonderholdingsolarbonesa-memory-of-violets

So if you’d seen me on twitter last year, you’d have seen me gushing about The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, which puts everything I love together in one room for one night only and, my word do I get excited when I even think about it. So normally, this is what I do: I wait and wait and wait for the shortlist to come out. I listen even more intently to Ryan Tubridy’s show in the morning to see if he’s announced his show’s nominations and pop into Eason to see where they’re at on the whole matter. When all is announced I begin to trawl through the nominees see if there are many authors and books I know, search out the ones I don’t and begin to read. I do this so that I can make an informed decision and vote fully legally (yes I do realise how I sound), and generally I get all forms of review requests in the meantime and panic as I realise to get through them all may not be so realistic! So I’ll be honest, this years awards is full of books whose names I’ve written on pieces of paper, or who are on my Kindle. I have not read that many of them (sob). The three I have reviewed are The Things I Should Have Told You by Carmel Harrington (read my review here) , Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard (I wrote about it here), and Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent (read the review here) .

Sitting on my Kindle, just ABOUT to be read is The Girl from The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor (I reviewed A Memory Of Violets and it was my number one book for 2015, read that review here) and the next book that jumps out at me, but which I shall have to go hunting for in paperback is  Dictatorship: My Teenage War With OCD – Rebecca Ryan (On Stream Publications Ltd)- I heard the interview with this author, who’s is quite young, (or at least much younger than me!) on Ryan Tubridy and she BLEW ME AWAY. These are followed closely by The Book of Shadows by ERMurray, Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern, The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan and I generally read Marian Keyes at Christmas for my ‘I’ll sit here and read for as long as I want to, dammit!’ time;). After that I know I’ve to get going on Graham Norton‘s book, Holding because, not only have people been raving about it, but also it’s a tale set in a little Irish village, and I have to read all such books in a quest to see if mine is way off the rest of the author population’s! As well as that it’s a sin not to have read the Maggie O’Farrell book , and I really want to read ‘Fat Chance’ by Louise MacSharry. Then I’m a bad reviewer because I haven’t read Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, which sounds AMAZING and I’ve The Wonder by Emma Donoghue to read as a result of a book group I’m in. Now, moving along, since I’ve seen Claire Hennessy speak and can’t wait to read Nothing Tastes As Good , well that’s in there too, plus to be Irish and not to have read Donal Ryan’s All We Shall Know beggars belief (plus I heard him speaking on the radio when he got his first book deal and I’ve meant to read his books since then!) so, um, yes. In the kiddies section I’m definitely going to get ‘Goodnight Everyone’ by  Chris Haughton and Historopedia by Fatti and John Burke, which I was looking at today in Eason and is perfection for the kiddies! I adore all cookbooks so, yes, need to get looking into them too! So, there you go. This is what happens every year, and to be honest, the books I have listed are only the ones that I previously said I really had to get going on, I have to wade through the rest too!

Anyhoo, this post is gone a bit nuts, the reason I was posting was actually to let you know that, thanks to the amazing people at Evoke.ie , I’ll be there!!!! At the awards! Yes, this is a huge, huge, huge thing for me. I will be  sitting in the green room alongside my best friend and fellow writer and blogger Deirdre Reidy from https://countingtheminutestilbedtime.com/ and I’ll tell you now, I can’t wait! Will fill you in on social media where I can, and will blog about it after, but for now, here’s the shortlist, taken from the Irish Bord Gais Energy Ireland Book Award website. I hope you enjoy going through the titles as much as I have, and find something you didn’t know existed:)

Eason Novel of the Year

All We Shall Know – Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland)

Days Without End – Sebastian Barry (Faber & Faber)

Solar Bones – Mike McCormack (Tramp Press)

The Lesser Bohemians – Eimear McBride (Faber & Faber)

The Wonder – Emma Donoghue (Pan Macmillan/Picador)

This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press)

The Journal.ie Best Irish published Book of the Year

All Through the Night – Edited by Marie Heaney (Poetry Ireland)

Dublin since 1922 – Tim Carey (Hachette Books Ireland)

Looking Back: The Changing Faces of Ireland – Eric Luke (The O’Brien Press)

Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks – Edited by Fintan O’Toole (Royal Irish Academy)

The Invisible Art: A Century of Music in Ireland 1916-2016 – Michael Dervan (New Island Books)

The Glass Shore – Sinéad Gleeson (New Island Books)

Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year

Himself – Jess Kidd (Canongate Books)

Red Dirt – EM Reapy (Head of Zeus)

The Last Days of Summer – Vanessa Ronan (Penguin Ireland)

The Maker of Swans – Paraic O’Donnell (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

The Things I Should Have Told You – Carmel Harrington (HarperCollins)

This Living and Immortal Thing – Austin Duffy (Granta Books)

National Book Tokens Nonfiction Book of the Year

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy – Paul Howard (Picador)

Ireland The Autobiography – John Bowman (Penguin Ireland)

The Hurley Maker’s Son – Patrick Deeley (Doubleday Ireland)

The Supreme Court – Ruadhán Mac Cormaic (Penguin Ireland)

Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir – John Banville & Paul Joyce (Hachette Books Ireland)

When Ideas Matter – Michael D Higgins (Head of Zeus)

RTE Radio One Ryan Tubridy Show Listener’s Choice

Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)

Conclave – Robert Harris (Hutchinson)

Dictatorship: My Teenage War With OCD – Rebecca Ryan (On Stream Publications Ltd)

All Through the Night – Edited by Marie Heaney (Poetry Ireland)

All We Shall Know – Donal Ryan (Transworld Ireland)

Victim Without A Face – Stefan Ahnhem (Head of Zeus)

Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year

In Glasnevin – Jane Clarke (From: The Irish Times)

Patagonia – Emma McKervey (From: The Compass Magazine)

Suppose I Lost – Andrew Soye (From: Abridged Magazine)

Love / Hotel / Love – Michael Naghtan Shanks (From: Poetry Ireland Review)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Junior)

A Child of Books – Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers (Walker Books)

Goodnight Everyone – Chris Haughton (Walker Books)

Historopedia – Fatti and John Burke (Gill Books)

Pigín of Howth – Kathleen Watkins (Gill Books)

Rabbit and Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits – Julian Gough & Jim Field (Hachette Children’s Group)

Rover and the Big Fat Baby – Roddy Doyle (Pan Macmillan)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior)

Knights of the Borrowed Dark – Dave Rudden (Puffin)

The Book of Shadows – E.R. Murray (Mercier Press)

The Making of Mollie – Anna Carey (The O’Brien Press)

Needlework – Deirdre Sullivan (Little Island Books)

Nothing Tastes As Good – Claire Hennessy (Hot Key Books)

Flawed – Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Avonmore Cookbook of the Year

Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown – Sophie White (Gill Books)

The World of The Happy Pear – Stephen and David Flynn (Penguin Ireland)

Natural Born Feeder – Roz Purcell (Gill Books)

The Little Green Spoon – Indy Power (Ebury Press)

Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook – Neven Maguire (Gill Books)

The Brother Hubbard – Garrett Fitzgerald (Gill Books)

Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year

Game of Throw-Ins – Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (Penguin Ireland)

Lyrebird – Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins)

Rebel Sisters – Marita Conlon-McKenna (Transworld Ireland)

The Girl From The Savoy – Hazel Gaynor (HarperCollins)

The Privileged – Emily Hourican (Hachette Books Ireland)

Holding – Graham Norton (Hodder & Stoughton)

Ireland AM Popular Nonfiction Book of the Year

Adventures of a Wonky-Eyed Boy – Jason Byrne (Gill Books)

Fat Chance – Louise McSharry (Penguin Ireland)

Making It Up As I Go Along – Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph)

Pippa – Pippa O’Connor (Penguin Ireland)

Talking to Strangers – Michael Harding (Hachette Books Ireland)

Mr. Pussy: Before I Forget to Remember – Alan Amsby/David Kenny (New Island Books)

Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year

Blood, Sweat & McAteer – Jason McAteer (Hachette Books Ireland)

Coolmore Stud, Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Success Story – Alan Conway (Mercier Press)

My Life in Rugby – Donal Lenihan (Transworld Ireland)

Out of Control – Cathal Mc Carron (Simon & Schuster)

The Battle – Paul O’Connell (Penguin Ireland)

Win or Learn – John Kavanagh (Penguin Ireland)

Writing.ie Short Story of the Year

Here We Are – Lucy Caldwell (Faber&Faber)

K-K-K – Lauren Foley (Ol Society – Australia)

The Visit – Orla McAlinden (Sowilo Press)

Green Amber Red – Jane Casey (New Island)

The Birds of June – John Connell (Granta Magazine)

What a River Remembers of its Course – Gerard Beirne (Numero Cinq Magazine)

Crime Fiction Award

Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard (Atlantic Books (Corvus)

Little Bones – Sam Blake (Bonnier Zaffre)

Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)

The Constant Soldier – William Ryan (Mantle)

The Drowning Child – Alex Barclay (HarperCollins)

The Trespasser – Tana French (Hachette Ireland)

Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

lyinginwait

Length: 320 pages

Note: The cover image leads to a universal buy link for the book on Amazon

What they say: From the award-winning author of the No 1 bestseller, Unravelling Oliver ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …

 

The Review: I had read Unravelling Oliver some time ago, as I had seen it nominated for The Bord Gais Book Awards, which generally drive a lot of my reading choices around this time of the year, and was pretty much as blown away as everyone else I knew (go read!). In relation to this book, if you go onto Amazon you’ll note that at the forefront is line upon line of gushing by writers and personalities who have claimed this as one of the books of the year. Since it surfaced, I have been hearing claims to this effect and, I have to admit, it is one of the problems with constantly reading reviews and being in social media book clubs, that constant calls of ‘this is the best book I’ve ever read, ever’ sometimes have you backing off, either totally, or for just enough time that you can form your own opinions (I’m the same with music, months after a song has been out I’ll start to hum it, then sing it, and tell everyone around me what a great song it is, much to their irritation!) Anyhoo, back to the point, and my point is, I’m so glad I did jump back to this book. Again, Ms. Nugent has created a book that draws you in, in such a way that this book can only be read in one sitting (or two, if your kids subconsciously decide you should be dealing with them instead;) The multiple point of views are excellent, as we begin with that line that is now infamous in blogging circles

“My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.”

and continue along a path with three people, one, a person who is willing to do everything she needs to, to get what she wants, no matter how sordid or how much she hurts those around her, the second an unwitting bystander, who does not know of the past of the people around him, and who has grabbed onto a sticky truth, to try to pull himself through a life that isn’t as easy as it should be, and thirdly, a  girl, who has a belief, a belief that the sister she is searching for is alive and that she will find her. The pure grubbiness and shock factor of this book is nicely balanced by this third person’s search, with simple yet magnificent Irish storytelling showing us the everyday life of a girl who wanted something a little bit better than what was expected of her, but without losing sight of who she was.

It’s funny, that out of this book, as well as with Oliver, the one thing that jumped out at me was how peoples’ childhoods shape their life. One event invariably led to the ostracizing of a child, which led to cruelty and hurt for a myriad of other people and afterwards you find yourself with an armful of ‘if onlys’ for the characters in the story.

The ending, as you would expect, had the dial set to ‘shock.’

All in all, a great book, though one to be read without all the hype and fanfare that surrounds it, just a dark, twisted, well told book that I really enjoyed and popped in and out of my thoughts afterwards. Cannot wait for Ms Nugent’s next book! Thanks so much to Netgalley and Penguin Ireland for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating 4.5/5