on 16th January 2014
Always let the meat rest under foil for at least ten minutes before carving...Meet Lizzie Prain. Ordinary housewife. Fifty-something. Lives in a cottage in the woods, with her dog Rita. Likes cooking, avoids the neighbours. Runs a little business making cakes.No one has seen Lizzie's husband, Jacob, for a few days. That's because last Monday, on impulse, Lizzie caved in the back of his head with a spade. And if she's going to embark on the new life she feels she deserves after thirty years in Jacob's shadow, she needs to dispose of his body. Her method appeals to all her practical instincts, though it's not for the faint-hearted. Will Lizzie have the strength to follow it through?Dark, funny and achingly human, Season to Taste is a deliciously subversive treat. In the shape of Lizzie Prain, Natalie Young has created one of the most remarkable heroines in recent fiction.
Fifty-something Lizzie Prain is stuck. Trapped in an unhappy marriage and trapped in the middle of woods. One morning in March she picks up a garden spade and kills her husband, Jacob. After thirty years of being his wife, Lizzie doesn’t feel like she should suffer any further for one moment of insanity (or is it clarity) in their garden. Being an extremely practical woman, Lizzie comes up with a plan. Eat the evidence. Starting with the hands, Lizzie disposes of Jacob one body part at a time with the hope that in one month she will be free of Jacob and able to start a new life.
Lizzie Prain is seemingly unremarkable. She’s a victim of life. Of circumstances. Neither Lizzie nor Jacob are happy in their marriage but neither one can bring themselves to leave. The first time we meet her, she has already done the deed and now has Jacob segmented and resting in multiple bags in the freezer. I’m not normally a squeamish person. I’ve read Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter series and watched the films multiple times. However there were times when I found this book a difficult read. The discomfort I felt arose not from the act of cannibalization but rather the way Lizzie Prain handled it. Disassociated from the act – boiling, braising, roasting and butchering – and yet very connected. No matter the cut, she still referred to her meals as “Jacob” and struggled physically and emotionally to eat him.
Unemployment, loneliness and depression are all important themes throughout the novel. Lizzie Prain is malnourished. Her body and soul have been underfed for years and while Jacob may not have been a provider in life, Lizzie sees this as her chance to replenish herself before starting a new life for herself. It’s an interesting novel in terms of there is no real villain. Jacob wasn’t physically abusive nor had he done anything that would make clear justification as a reader for WHY Lizzie was driven to murder. There’s a distinct lack of passion. Perhaps that is just to reiterate their passionless marriage but it made the act that much harder for me to comprehend. Why did this apparently ordinary and somewhat dull woman kill her husband?
There are times when we got to see someone other than Lizzie’s thoughts. I understand the reason behind the dual point of view throughout the novel, I felt a little taken out of the story whenever Lizzie wasn’t narrating.
This book made me uncomfortable at times but I was compelled to see how everything worked out for Lizzie Prain. Season to Taste is descriptive (perhaps too vivid at times for me) but well written with a main character I found to be fascinating to read. I’m glad I had the opportunity to read this book.
Many thanks to Anna from The Reading Room for giving me her personal copy of Season To Taste to read.