Season to Taste, by Natalie Young, has the byline ‘How to Eat Your Husband’, which is pretty much what the plot of the book is based around.
Lizzie, who has been with her husband for more than thirty years, hits him over the head with a spade one Monday morning in March. She is then left with the problem of how to dispose of his body. Unwilling to spend the rest of her life in prison she decides that it must vanish without trace, and decides that the best way to accomplish this is to eat it. How she proceeds with her plan is described in stomach churning detail, alongside a dissection of their marriage.
No aspects of Lizzie’s actions are glossed over. In grotesque detail the author describes the means by which the body is bled, cut up into manageable chunks, and frozen. Over time each piece is then thawed, prepared and consumed. The feel, smells and tastes are all recounted along with Lizzie’s reactions to what she is attempting to do. She is a skilled cook and, with the help of a few internet searches, chooses suitable garnishes and accompaniments to go with the body part she is dealing with. The graphic descriptions are nauseatingly believable.
I found the book depressing to read, not least because Lizzie seemed to have few happy memories to recall from her long marriage. Her secluded cottage in the woods with its large garden seemed only to oppress her. She appeared unable to see positives in the few people she allowed herself to come into contact with, describing problems and flaws over achievements.
There were suggestions that Lizzie had become the way she was due to the manner in which her mother and husband had treated her. If her husband did little to bolster her self esteem then it was clear that she had treated him little better. We are only allowed to see the husband through Lizzie’s eyes, indeed much of the book is written from her point of view, so it is hard to form a balanced opinion of any of the other characters.
However Lizzie was treated, it is still difficult to accept that the way she behaved could in any way be described as a reasonable response. The book is well written, and an interesting slant on cannibalism, but is unlikely to make any reader think that this is a tempting means of corpse disposal.
I did not find the book an enjoyable read. Perhaps I had hoped for a little black humour, or some relief from a more typical supporting cast. By concentrating so fully on Lizzie’s view of the world the book remained bleak. Given her macabre activities it seems somehow appropriate that, despite my acknowledgement of the skill with which the story was told, I found it sickening more than satisfying.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Tinder Press.