Season to Taste by Natalie Young
Published by Tinder Press
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?
Lizzie got into the Volvo and adjusted the seat and the mirror. On the air in the car and from the upholstery she caught the smell of his buttery skin and the tobacco from him; and she kept that smell in all the way to the lake. With the cold outside and the heating on and the dog breathing in the boot, she managed to trap them both in a white steaming fug and she kept her arm moving against the windscreen to clear a view of the road. It was very silly. But opening the window and letting that smell of her husband go seemed a bit silly too.
She crunched to a halt at the lake and looked at the coins - one and two pees - scattered around the handbrake. There was a piece of paper with a shopping list written in pencil.
A stub of pencil lay on the floor, with a chewed rubber on the end. At Joanna's house in London he'd experimented with drugs. He hadn't told Lizzie what, or how; only that he'd tried things, and had 'a ball'. 'LP' was loo paper. She stared at the writing and wondered what it meant if a person wrote like that: right up in the corner, taking up so little space, and then leaving all that white. She lifted the piece of paper right up to her eye and closed the other one while trying to read through the blur. Then she dropped it in the driver's door pocket and went out into the air.
Season to Taste is undoubtedly unlike any novel you may have ever read before; at least in my case it is. Lizzie Prain is an ordinary 50-something woman. Nothing dramatic ever happens to either her, or her husband Jacob in their woodland cottage. Except a few nights ago, Lizzie decided to hit her husband over the head with a spade, and now he's dead.
This part of the story isn't so extraordinary. I read a lot of crime novels; I've read all this before. What I haven't come across, is the next part. And this is the crux of the story. Lizzie decides that she doesn't want to go to prison for Jacob's murder, and that if she tries to bury him, at some point he may be discovered. She decides that it's an all-or-nothing situation, and this requires stamina, strength and a lot of herbs. Lizzie Prain is going to eat her husband.
And she does. Bit by bit. The descriptions are so intense you can smell the herbs being rubbed into each joint. Whilst this is going on, Lizzie is carrying on with normal life, applying for jobs and meeting new people. Who on earth would suspect her of such a heinous crime?
Whilst I read Season to Taste in only 24 hours, I'm of mixed opinions as to whether I actually liked it. It's had a profound effect on me. The preparations are so evocative of a recipe book that it actually put me off food. I didn't want to read more, and yet I was drawn to find out whether Lizzie would a) eat all of Jacob and b) get away with it. Clearly I can't reveal either scenario, you're going to have to read it for yourself to find out. Suffice to say, Natalie Young has written a book that is going to be discussed for a long time to come. I think this would make an ideal conversation piece for book groups everywhere.
Miss Chapter x