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[personal profile] alobear
I met Elisa Lodato at a writing retreat last year, and again on the same retreat last week, so finally got around to reading her first novel, An Unremarkable Body, on my return.

The protagonist, Laura, goes to her mother's for lunch and find her dead at the bottom of the stairs. The rest of the book has Laura piecing together the various parts of her mother's life in an attempt to understand what might have happened at the end.

The use of the autopsy report to head the chapters and prompt Laura's reminiscences or investigations is clever, using clinical and physical descriptions of the body to explore very emotional aspects of a life.

It all feels very real - the characters are well rounded and layered, the writing is emotive and the themes of loss and confusion are vividly painted. The fragments of the story are masterfully woven together to form a whole, though the perspective doesn't always ring true, as Laura narrates the whole book, even scenes she would not know about or fully understand. But it's a very effective presentation of the complexities of adult relationships, and how difficult it is to understand other people's motivations. It's very sad - the restrictions that don't allow people to live the life they would like are painfully and relatably shown.

This isn't the sort of book I would normally read, but I enjoyed it, and the writing is very good, particularly the sprinkling of unique and vivid images that crop up throughout.

March 2019

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