In this novel, meat IS murder …

Season to Taste by Natalie Young

This is the strangest premise for a novel that I’ve read in a while, and I do enjoy a high quirk factor in a book. Season to Taste is the tale of a marriage gone wrong, and it starts off with a murder…

One day Lizzie Prain snaps and murders her husband of thirty years with a spade. She then dismembers the body and freezes it. As in the subtitle of this novel ‘How to Eat Your Husband’, her plan is to eat the evidence and then disappear off to a new life in Scotland.

Lizzie takes the project of eating Jacob terribly seriously.  She prepares each joint in as gourmet a fashion as she can manage, with plenty of herbs and spices to make it all seem more palatable.  Preparation of the meat is difficult though …

It wasn’t helpful to look at the severed end where the bone emerged with flesh attached and shiny bits of cartilage. So she covered it up with the tea towel and focused on the knuckle area and fingers. She cleaned the nails with a nailbrush, rinsing in the sink; and then she brushed the skin with an oil brush to give it a good crisp. She rubbed all over the hand with olive oil and salt and then twisted the pepper grinder; and she laid his hand on a non-stick roasting tray, carefully straightening the fingers out.

Yes, I’ll say it so you don’t have to – did she serve it ‘with fava beans and a nice chianti‘?  There is no need for the author to refer to Hannibal Lecter, I’m sure she is happy for us to have a little joke with ourselves though.

Yesterday I was discussing this book in my favourite local bookshop, when my friend Julia who works there produced menu cards for some of the recipes, which the publisher had sent out. They had a spare set to give me – so here is that hand recipe … [Ed: WP lost the pic when I migrated the blog]

In the beginning, we are fascinated in a truly macabre way by Lizzie’s gourmet recipes to make her husband’s remains palatable, and the care with which she treats it.  A couple of weeks later, Lizzie’s protein-rich diet is beginning to wear on her, and what was almost a last act of love is becoming a little more desperate. The recipes are mouthwatering in their awfulness though!

In between the recipes come Lizzie’s lists to help keep herself strong and get through the project. After those we get to hear about her and Jacob. It wasn’t exactly a love match, but they did seem to sort of care for each other in a claustrophobic, self-centred way.  Frankly, I found them both totally unlikeable, like the two main characters in Gone Girl; I had to read on to find out whether she gets away with it.

This novel is destined to become a talking point with all who encounter it – talking with horror, with disbelief, even at times with sympathy, (well just a bit) – the author cleverly plays with all our emotions.  When it does start to go a bit wrong as Lizzie’s overconfidence leads to too much fraternisation with the neighbours, I initially rubbed my hands with glee.  My only criticism of this book is that I would have liked a stronger ending, but that would risk being rather formulaic, and that is something this quirky novel definitely is not!  (8/10)

Can you stomach this kind of novel?
Or does the very idea of it just make you squirm?

* * * * *
Source: Review copy from Amazon Vine. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
Season to Taste or How to Eat Your Husband by Natalie Young, published 16th Jan 2014 by Tinder Press. Hardback, 288 pages.

21 thoughts on “In this novel, meat IS murder …

  1. sakura says:

    Sounds intriguing if not disturbing! I don’t think I’ve read much about cannibalism (except for watching Silence of the Lambs) so I may have to have a look…

    • gaskella says:

      This was my first cannibal read after the Hannibal Lecter books too. Season to taste is, however, quite literary and not at all sensationalist unlike the former (really!).

    • gaskella says:

      I agree, but there the way of madness lies … I saw it at least at the start as an act of love, but it was really about asserting her dominance perhaps?

  2. Marie says:

    I am intrigued by this one – how could anybody fail to be intrigued by that premise? – but in a funny way I don’t really think I actually want to read it, just to find out what happens at the end. I don’t imagine it would be a particularly enjoyable reading experience!

    • gaskella says:

      I know what you mean Marie, it was quite grim in places and the characters were awful, but I am one of those readers who would say ‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish’. 😉

  3. Alex says:

    I’m definitely one of the squirmers. I’ve come across a number of references to this over the past few weeks and each time my stomach just turns over. You’ll have to let me know privately whether she gets away with it or not because I’m pretty sure this is one book that isn;t going to find its way onto my shelves.

  4. litlove says:

    What a great review! You’re so right that it’s a book everyone will be talking about – how could you not? I’m not sure I’ve got the stomach for it, but the idea is certainly quirky and unusual, and I’ll be following the discussions about it with interest!

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