CBR14 BINGO: Bodies square
(Obviously, the title. But also, this author has a very interesting way of writing about bodies, bodily functions, and the senses. I hesitate to call it sensual because it was more than that. Oliver has a very acute awareness of how a body can react to grief, sickness, fear, and the whole panoply of emotions.)
Marianne is struggling after the death of her younger sister. Never someone with a firm sense of self, Marianne flounders in apathy. Weighed down by grief and guilt, she lacks the conviction to keep her mediocre relationship with her boyfriend afloat. She is also unsurprised by the loss of her writing job at a magazine she was never a good fit for anyway.
She is losing connection with the world around her until she is pulled back into herself when she discovers strange coarse hairs appearing down the length of her spine. At first, she tries to remove them, but it causes excruciating pain. She visits her doctor and when she is called in to get the results of her bloodwork, her doctor suggests she try out a new program offered to only a handful of patients. A retreat where she can rest, and deal with the grief she has been carrying. Anxious to try anything that might help her to move past her sister’s death, Marianne boards a bus to what she believes is a facility in Wales for a couple of weeks of therapy and rest. She gets much more than she bargains for.
This book was deeply weird. I think I mean that in the best sense. Oliver’s writing, particularly for a debut novel, is stunning. Her use of language made everything Marianne was going through palpable. However, what seemed like a book about grief had a whole speculative/science fiction thing going on that seemed a little extra. While I can understand how the whole sci-fi part of this could align with the grief it never really got there. I’m not someone who needs to have ALL questions answered but there is a lot left on the table here in terms of what was physically going on with Marianne and why. While at the end of the book there is an odd dump of exposition, it still wasnt enough to satisfy my currioristy here. So many questions.