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

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