Title: Skin Deep
Author: Liz Nugent
Publisher: Penguin UK
‘Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.’
Cordelia Russell has been living on the Côte d’Azur for ten years, posing as a posh English woman fallen on hard times. But her luck is running out. Desperate to escape her grotty flat and grim reality, Cordelia spends a night at a glittering party. Surrounded by the young, beautiful and privileged she feels her age and her poverty. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. It hasn’t taken long for the corpse in her bedroom to commence decomposing …
Liz Nugent’s novel is the dark, twisted and shocking story of what takes Cordelia from an island childhood in Ireland to ruins in Nice.
This book is really not what I expected – but that’s no bad thing! The synopsis definitely makes it sound like a thriller centered around a particular incident in Cordelia Russel’s life, as an adult, when in fact the plot starts with her at a young age and spends a good portion of the story recounting her life growing up and as a young woman, before covering the years after.
What I really enjoyed about this novel is that you’re with main character Cordelia as she develops into the person she is – and, let’s be honest, that isn’t the nicest person at times! Despite her distinct lack of likability, I loved reading this novel – from start to finish. I really do enjoy reading a book about a less than perfect character who has that hint of the twisted and/or sinister about them. There are slower parts and more eventful sections, but all of it kept me turning page after page, and I would definitely recommend this.
The detail is excellent and the sense of time / place is so powerful (I could really imagine myself there on the slightly eerie island of Iniscran). Skin Deep was a surprise for me, but a brilliant one at that: a well-written, deep, character-driven novel with wonderful descriptions and a real sense of unease…