Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: "With My Body" by Nikki Gemmell

Title: With My Body
Nikki Gemmell
Date Published:
October 1, 2011

How I Heard About It: I was selected as a blog tour host for this book. A review copy was kindly provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher.

Also, I've been a huge fan of this author for years. My gorgeous, talented friend and fellow blogger Ginger told me about "The Bride Stripped Bare" in an undergrad creative writing workshop.  I am forever grateful.

Two Sentence Summary: As with "The Bride Stripped Bare," Gemmell narrates her novel from second person perspective; this means that "you" is/are the narrator, signifying the reader as a seminal part of the story's unfolding.  An untangling of womanhood (majestic naivete of youth, tumultuous repercussions of confusion, exhaustion and loneliness of motherhood), this novel is divided up in a series of "lessons" borrowed from a fabricated Victorian manual for females, consistently complicating and explicating the trajectory of a female body.

Things I Think: People are always saying, "I couldn't put it down," to mean simply that they enjoyed a book.  I read lots of books (lots and lots of them), and I say without sense of hyperbole that I could NOT put this book down.

Nikki Gemmell's prose is what every writer aspires to: simultaneously poetic and narrative; universal; omniscient and yet personal.  I read her novels and the "you" that narrates implicates me (reader) not only with its grammatical invitation, but also its guttural honesty.

Follow openly and fearlessly that same law which makes
spring pass into summer, summer into autumn,
and autumn into winter.

I laughingly think, while reading "With My Body," that this novel is what "Fifty Shades of Grey" only wishes it could be.  Truly, there is a blatant eroticism to Gemmell's writing but it is never trite; instead, it celebrates a (and I borrow from so many other reviewers here) "raw" recounting of feminine evolution, something to which any woman (and I suspect any reader) can relate.  The narrator makes blushing reference to "The Thorn Birds" as a dirty tome passed around her boarding school, and the reference creates a direct comparison in my mind: "With My Body" does, for my generation, what McCullough's "Thorn Birds" certainly did in its time. 

In this book many woman will find simply the expression of what
they have themselves, consciously or unconsciously, often times thought; and the more 
deeply, perhaps, because it has never come to the surface in words or writing.

I read, so infrequently, one writer's entire canon out of sheer love for their prosody.  Gemmell's work will always be crucial to me as a woman and as a writer; for the first time, I think I've found a book I will read multiple times in order to maintain a kind of proximity to wisdom. 

Thank you to the publisher and to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book! I'm lucky to to be the first stop on this tour, but there are many more, so check out the schedule.


Melissa said...

Karen, so great to discover your blog through this tour. (I'm the next stop, as my post will be up tomorrow.) I also make a comparison to FIFTY SHADES OF GREY in my review ... and you're so right to pick up on THE THORN BIRDS! I remember that being passed around my middle school too.

I had a love/hate relationship with this one, but also could not (literally) put this down, staying up until 2 a.m. one night to finish it. I'm planning to read more of Gemmell's work, too.

Nice to meet you through the tour!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I had a bit of a hehehe at your comment about 50 Shades of Grey ... sounds like I should be recommending THIS book to everyone whose raving about that one, to show that what they're missing. :)

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Marla said...

Hmm.. I may have to pick this one up :) Hi!!

Lisa Morrison said...

Thanks for the insightful review. I read The Bride stripped bare and loved her writing. Can't wait to get into With My Body.