The Book of Human Skin
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The Book of Human Skin

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  1,151 ratings  ·  193 reviews
1784, Venice. Miniguillo Fasan claws his way out of his mother’s womb. The magnificent Palazzo Espagnol, built on New World drugs and silver, has an heir. Twelve years later Minguillo uncovers a threat to his inheritance: a sister. His jealousy will condemn her to a series of fates as a cripple, a madwoman and a nun. But she is not alone - aided by an irascible portrait-pai...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published April 5th 2010 by Bloomsbury UK
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Modern Gothic
60th out of 271 books — 739 voters
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Aubrey
3.5/5

This is one of those books that I feel could have benefited had I been reading it by itself. Unfortunately for this particular work, I've had plenty of simultaneous reading experiences where each work held their own just fine in conjunction with their competition, so my penchant for multiple books is really not to blame.

Intriguing title, isn't it? Sensational, salacious, and easily backed up by the promise of the summary and the entirety of the book. The only problem, really, was the matter...more
Lance Greenfield
Difficult to put out of my mind

Michelle Lovric has obviously put a huge effort into the research that she weaves into a carpet upon which the story can walk and play. This story is shocking, yet, in places, amusing. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that any reader would agree that the conclusions are satisfying.

This story is so cleverly written, and the publishers have helped the author to present a unique style. There are five, very different narrators. The author gives them their i...more
Halo
"This is going to get a little uncomfortable." Thanks for the warning.
The phrase morbid fascination really comes to mind after this book, I'm not going to do a synopsis as they're ten a penny here, but what I can say is this. The book is horrific, triumphant, at times slightly soul crushing,(poor poor Marcella!) humorous, and addictive.
The fabric of this book is beautifully woven, by pulling all the right strings Lovric gives an entwined and detailed pattern of characters, some of whom we love t...more
Rosie


The Book of Human Skin is a funny one. I find it hard to make up my mind as to whether I've just read something quite brilliant or another run of the mill romance novel that tries to be something it's not. I'm leaning towards the latter.
Telling the tale of a young girl's persecution by her evil brother through five narratives, this novel is not short of exciting plot twists and lurid detail that appeals to the voyeuristic nature inside us all; Lovric has an appealing and delectiable writing s...more
Pam
While I didn't hate this book I wasn't particularly enamoured of it either. The reviews on the front of the book made it out to be some sort of scandalous tale that pushes the boundaries of acceptable narrative with a dark humour. Was this book dark, yes ... ironically humorous ... not at all. I think the largest problem I had with this book is that I really couldn't find a character with whom to place my sympathies. Many of the characters (Minguillo and Sor Loreta) were downright deplorable and...more
The_book_fairy11
Excellent. I really got into her books when I happened to pickup The Remedy. If youve ever wanted to travel in time read a Michelle Lovric book. You can see the grand canal and smell the streets of Venice and the corruption on the backstreets of London. True escapism. I emerged from the Remedy in a daze and thought "oh yeah im a wife and mother living in england!" I quickly longed to wander through venice again and picked up this book from my library. I loved it from the first page its the kind...more
Sam
The Book Of Human Skin is an epic, sensationalist and gripping tale of sibling rivalry taken to the extreme. Born in 18th century Venice, Minguillo Fasan has already dispatched of his older sister by the time his younger sister, Marcella, is born. What follows is the account of his attempts to ruin her life and disinherit her; involving lunatic asylums, nunneries in Peru and much physical and emotional torture. Told by five different narrators, The Book of Human Skin spans continents and decades...more
Teresa
This is my first encounter with Michelle Lovric’s writing and it certainly whetted my appetite for more of her books. Set in late 18th century Venice and Peru, the story is narrated by five main characters whose different “voices” are highlighted by the use of different fonts. It’s a rollercoaster, romp of a novel in which the focus is on the fate of the young Venetian aristocrat, Marcella Fasan and her quest for survival faced with an extremely jealous, older brother Minguillo who will will lea...more
Rafaela
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Annie
Everyone, put this one on your wishlist straight away - it's wonderful! The story ranges from Venice to Peru, and what a story it is. Minguillo is pure undiluted evil, and his detailed cruelties can be difficult to read - but his wry humour as he tells his side of the story is absolutely magic. The story is told in turn by a range of the main characters - the accounts are fairly short, and it keeps the action moving wonderfully from different perspectives, and there's no chance of getting confus...more
Charlotte Phillips
I have to admit, that at first I was bit like, eh about this book. The back of it sounded interesting, but not all that at all. At first it was somewhat slow moving and rather disengaging in many senses. It just seemed to be dragging on and there seemed to be far too many characters to pay attention to. I think the beginning of the book was just a little too heavy with too much going on and that of course almost disengaged me from it. But none the less I persevered with the book adn continued to...more
Rose Boehm
It's a brilliantly written and conceived book - a story told by the various protagonists, from their points of view, in their voices. And the story is a wonderful yarn of old-fashioned evil pitted against old-fashioned good, but in such a way that it never deteriorates into bombastics or sentimentalities. Evil is truly evil and good isn't too squeaky clean either.

From 18th century Venice to Arequipa in Peru the narrative takes us back to a time we can't quite imagine, and on the way we learn qu...more
Lucy Cokes
Nov 04, 2012 Lucy Cokes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the non squeamish, bibliophiles
When I first saw a book of human skin I trembled with glee.

The librarian had fetched the book and held it in delicate wrappings in front of me. ‘What is this book made of?’ she asked, a smile and a glint in her eye.

I couldn’t guess.

‘It is made of human skin.’

I don’t think she gleaned from me the desired effect. Instead of acting repulsed, shying away from the thing, I shared her smile and peered closer, reaching out a hand.

‘Please don’t touch.’ She said, pulling the book away into its embrace o...more
JackieB
The main reason I loved this was that it had a fantastic anti-hero as one of the main characters. I really enjoyed hoping he would get his come-uppance at the end and thinking about how it might be achieved (I'll leave to you read the book to find out whether those hopes were realised). Actually I thought all of the main characters were well described, but it was the anti-hero who really stood out for me. He was awful but compelling. I think it takes some skill to bring that off.
The story was t...more
Lauren
It was ok. I really liked it in the beginning, to the point I didn't want to put it down. I go to about the halfway mark when it started to get a bit tedious, maybe a little bit boring. In the end I was genuinely relieved to have finally finished it.

Marcella was too perfect. I was supposed to be on her side but she was completely devoid of pretty much everything that makes a character interesting, so I didn't care too much. She's too innocent, so vulnerable and everyone loves her and thanks she'...more
Lisa (scarlet21)
1784, Venice. Minguillo Fasan claws his way out of his mother’s womb. The magnifi cent Palazzo Espagnol, built on New World
drugs and silver, has an heir. Twelve years later Minguillo uncovers a threat to his inheritance: a sister. His jealousy will condemn
her to a series of fates as a cripple, a madwoman and a nun. But she is not alone, aided by an irascible portrait-painter, a doctor
obsessed with skin and a cigar-smoking nun, Marcella pits her own fi erce heart against Minguillo.

"I invite the...more
Terry
This book is one of the "Summer Reads" of the TV Book Club.

I thought it was a very good book, though at first it was a little difficult to get into. There are five narators and each have thier own font and very special way of writing/speaking. At first this takes a little extra effort to understand but it's well worth that effort. The story is set in Napoleonic Times and mostly in Venice though other sections are played out in Peru. It is the story of a very nasty son of a noble family and his s...more
Venuskitten
Minguillo Fasan, the evil son of a Venetian nobleman, sets out to destroy his family, especially his sister Marcella, and other perceived enemies, in this accomplished novel, set in the 18th century and narrated by several different characters, each telling the same story from their own perspectives. The naarators include Gianni, one of the Venetian servants, who is a witty and wonderful character, and Santo, an inspirational young doctor.

This book is a brilliant achievement by a gifted writer,...more
Gwen McGinty
While not as gruesome as the title would have you believe, The Book of Human Skin is definitely a good read.

It starts off a little slow, and the constant changing of narrator (one per chapter, with each chapter being very short) meant that it took a little while to develop into a cohesive narrative. But when it got going it really did get going!

Minguillo is a detestable creature, Marcella is a little too good to be true, Gianni is utterly loveable, Santo is determined and strong, and Sor Loreta...more
Robyn
I love books that are told from a number of different perspectives, particularly where the voices are so distinct, as they are here. Some are more compelling than others, and I looked forward to hearing from the evil characters most. The demented nun (no other way to describe her) Sor Loretta was my favourite - totally over the top and totally compelling because of it.

There is quite a lot of historical detail in this book, and some extensive notes at the end to explain it all. I didn't know muc...more
Sophie
Don't let the title put you off! The story of Minguillo's quest to destroy his sister Marcella, and anyone else who he dislikes, takes many twist & turns. The title being Minguillo's obesession with human skin-bound books.

A bookclub choice I probably would not have picked out from the title, I found it a good read. The first 40 -50 pages of scene setting/character intro was rather hard going, and the different sytles/fonts of the five narrators took a little getting used to. However with the...more
Amanda
Surprised this has received some fairly bad reviews - it is one of the best books I have read in months. The story is gripping until the last chapter and the way the author has used different fonts/style of writing for each character is very clever. Regarding those reviews thinking Marcella was passive, she simply had to be - to try and keep alive and to keep those she cherished safe. She was brought up knowing her brother had the money, the power and the sheer desire to do what he wanted to do...more
Sandra
The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric is a reading experience not to be missed. The narrative voices of Marcella, Minguillo, Doctor Aldobrandini, Gianni and Sister Loreta are some of the most unusual characters ever encountered in a novel. The use of the variety of voices telling the story speed the action of the novel and leaves the reader breathless. The most fascinating aspect of the book is the wonderful imagery - some of which can make the reader feel physically revolted. This book is d...more
Lindsay
I don't know if i can review this one, It was wierd, but interesting, the language and format were hard at first but i got use to it.

I liked that the author changed the font between each narrator so you always knew when you were changing POV.

It was strangely intriguing, the violence in the book was subtle and not overstated, the madness that crept in to the characters also subtle.

All in all a good book, not one i would read again i don't think but one i would recommend if you were after somethin...more
Fionna
Well researched (to this amateur, at least) and well-written novel about the rivalry between two siblings in early nineteenth century Venice and Peru. My main issues were with how someone's looks dictated their character - the evil ones are hideous, and great big passages describe how revolting they look, while the good ones are beautiful. I suppose some of that can be forgiven in a book with a main theme being human skin, but I was disappointed in the shallow characterization nonetheless.
Nicki
Written as a series of diary entries by 5 different characters, this novel tells the story of the best and worst of human nature. There are two fabulous villains who have 'creative' ways of torturing people who get in their way. There is love, madness, a missing will and a convent full of nuns, all thrown into Venice and peru with a dash of Napolean (bony) for historic context.
Emma Hoyle
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Humour as black as sin, characters that are devilishly delightful, and evocative, sweeping settings. What's not to like? The need to justify funding for research, perhaps? (Thirty pages of notes on the research at the end testify to this, and it was difficult to tell apart the author's writing here and some of the characters' narratives, which added to the feeling that the story sometimes read like a textbook.) A series of crazy coincidences in...more
Emily Becker
I read this because I needed to get over some post-really-amazing-book-sadness and this was a completely different read to the book I was mourning (Watership Down, in case anyone was wondering)and it certainly did a wonderful job there. The Book of Human Skin is dark, gothic, at-times-repulsive and at-times-romantic and uplifting, beautifully infused with rich imagery and history. I particularly remember Marcella's thoughts upon arriving in Arequipa: "Venetians do not own colour, though we somet...more
Lou
God-onna-stick! I think this is my favourite book of the year so far. Lovric is a genius! Murder, revenge, 18th century Venice, history, mad nuns, and a crippled heroine - all told with dark dark humour, and gruesome detail. Like nothing I've read before. Brilliant!
Kristie Scarle
I really enjoyed this book. I really enjoy a story where the narrative is shared and we get to see the insights of the characters.

It's not a pleasant book, and whilst I found some of the evildoings unbelieveable - I cuold believe all of the religious aspects!
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Michelle Lovric is a novelist, writer and anthologist.

Her third novel, The Remedy, was long-listed for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction. The Remedy is a literary murder-mystery set against the background of the quack medicine industry in the eighteenth century.

Her first novel, Carnevale, is the story of the painter Cecilia Cornaro, described by The Times as the possessor of ‘the most covetable l...more
More about Michelle Lovric...
The Undrowned Child (The Undrowned Child, #1) The Floating Book The Remedy The Mourning Emporium (The Undrowned Child, #2) Love Letters: An Anthology of Passion

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“You need not hate them, for that hurts you too,' she explained. 'It is sufficient to laugh at them.” 0 likes
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