So many spotlights get turned on new books, so I’m going to review an older book that recently wowed me. Michel Faber’s first novel is so unlike his second, The Crimson Petal and the White (2002), that I’m still reeling.
Under the Skin (2000) had me from the first sentence:
“Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her.”
And then the questions begin. Specimens? Where is she taking them? Is the slight, big-bosomed woman in Mr. Magoo glasses not who she seems to be?
Faber drops hints like little bread crumbs in each chapter about Isserley’s mission and what’s going on back at the secluded Ablach Farm, leading us to the cataclysmic ending. Along the way the rights of women, animals and the working class are tenderly studied in a book that’s been compared to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
Who is Isserley? An explanation by Michel Faber