You are the good doctor’s wife. All wellies and Range Rovers, school runs and Sunday church and there is a part of you that your husband will never reach that elusiveness used to addle him with desire; what went on, once, in your life. – from With My Body, page 5 –
An unnamed woman contemplates her life as a mother of three and a wife to a man she loves, but whom no longer excites her. She longs for a more passionate life and remembers when she was just a young girl and coming to recognize the pleasures of her own body. An older man, a writer named Tol, initiates her into sex when she is just seventeen. This experience has had a profound impact on who she is now.
Written in the second person point of view, With My Body suggests that the protagonist in the novel is speaking for all women about the universal female experience of trying to be it all: wife, mother, career woman. And therefore they end up denying their own needs and desires.
The point of view in this novel is unusual and takes some getting used to – but ultimately, I found it to be a good choice. Clearly Nikki Gemmell is a talented writer to be able to pull it off. Despite enjoying the book early on, however, I soon grew tired of the protagonist’s voice and her search for her own desires. I also began to be put off by her experiences as a young girl. Tol is portrayed as a sensitive and caring man who only wishes to teach this young woman about the pleasures her body has to offer – but, I had a hard time with the huge age difference and the feeling that this “relationship” was not healthy for any young woman.
Because of this disconnect, I ended up finding the book just a so-so read. I do think that many women will relate to the adult protagonist (in fact, I found myself laughing out loud in some of the early pages). But, I am not sure how many women will see themselves in the younger protagonist. The bulk of the book is written during those younger years.
This book was a book club choice for me, and the discussion over on Jen’s blog was good. Although it was not a great read for me, some readers may enjoy this one.
- Quality of Writing:
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher as part of BOOK CLUB.