Holli's Reviews > This Body: A Novel of Reincarnation

This Body by Laurel Doud
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's review
Apr 29, 2008

did not like it
Read in February, 2006

I just couldn’t relate very well to the plot. Katharine was such a real character with real concerns and problems, but having her end up in a 22 year old’s body just sort of ended it for me before it began. There was really no hope for her to deal with her life because she was removed from her life and would never go back to it. I guess there were truths to be learned on a deeper level, but I just didn’t feel invested enough to figure them out. A novel about a middle-aged woman inhabiting the body of a 22 year old should be funny and this wasn’t funny. The Shakespeare stuff was okay, but I never really figured out the family dynamics. And they didn’t seem to learn anything from Katharine/Thisby. I just don’t really see the point. When I read, I either want to learn something or be entertained and this novel did neither for me.

From Publishers Weekly
A fresh, thoughtful spin on the well-worn fantasy of inhabiting another body, this offbeat debut borrows the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream and submits them to a very 1990s enchantment. On midsummer night?June 21?39-year-old Katharine Ashley dies of a heart attack in Northern California. The mother of two, whose worldliness consists of having seen the film Woodstock five times in 1970, wakes up a year after her death on a squalid bathroom floor in L.A. She finds herself trapped in the drug- and alcohol-dependent body?and in the unhappy family?of 22-year-old photographer and all-around gilded youth Thisby Bennett. Without any of the discomfiture one might expect in such sitcom circumstances, Katharine navigates Thisby's world, which includes a harelipped sister named Quince and an all-too-attractive brother called Puck. Determined to save everyone (Quince, Puck, her own children and Thisby herself), Katharine discovers much about the temptations and risks of mothering and second chances. It doesn't matter whether this is "a three-second dream before she really dies" or a wonderfully believable wake-up-as-someone-else. The more Shakespeare (and Fawlty Towers and Sesame Street) one knows, the more pleasurable it is to read this crisply written, wry and intelligent book; yet even the reader who falls far short of Doud's knowledge of the Bard will appreciate the emotional resonance of the Katharine/Thisby identity struggle.
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