Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Body Lies” as Want to Read:
The Body Lies
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Body Lies

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  2,840 ratings  ·  498 reviews
A dark, thrilling new novel from the best-selling author of Longbourn: a work of riveting psychological suspense that grapples with how to live as a woman in the world--or in the pages of a book--when the stakes are dangerously high.

When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote English countryside, it's meant to be a fresh start, away from the bustle of
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Body Lies, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Michelle Only Wants to Read LOL! I'm with you on those and many other questions, as well as with your last statement. That was me the entire book. …moreLOL! I'm with you on those and many other questions, as well as with your last statement. That was me the entire book. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,840 ratings  ·  498 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Body Lies
Chelsea Humphrey
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chelsea by: Crime by the Book
Shelves: from-publisher
By this point I'm sure you're tired of hearing me hem and haw over my inability to enjoy the flashy psychological thrillers being published these days, but I think I've found an excellent compromise. Enter the literary crime fiction novel: typically, it is dark, gritty, atmospheric, and brooding, and contains many of the suspenseful and thrilling components I've previously loved in the twisty new novels, yet with a more relaxed pace. The focus isn't on a "twist that you'll never see coming"; usu ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: digital, edelweiss
The Body Lies starts with the assault of a thirty year old pregnant unnamed woman and this assault colors her life in the next years. Three years after she has her baby, she takes a job as a professor in rural England university, living apart from her partner/husband Mark, seeing him only on holidays and some weekends. Immediately the Creative Writing department, which should have had two experienced mentors, is down to just her and her boss is piling on more work constantly. With a three year o ...more
Elyse  Walters
The beginning had me intrigued. I loved the writing.
“The beck is frozen into silence. Snow falls. It muffles the road, bundles up the houses, deepens the meadows, turns the river black by contrast. It settles along the gray-green twigs and branches of the beech wood, sifts like sugar to the hard earth below —and dusts the young women curled there, her skin blue-white, dark hair tumbled over her face. She doesn’t say a word; she doesn’t even shiver now. Her breath comes thinly”.
“A deer, scrapi
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
"The Body Lies" by Jo Baker was a compelling, tense and suspenseful thriller that I enjoyed right from the start.
“When a young writer accepts a job at a university in the remote countryside, it’s meant to be a fresh start, away from the big city and the scene of a violent assault she’s desperate to forget. But despite the distractions of a new life and single motherhood, her nerves continue to jangle. To make matters worse, a vicious debate about violence against women inflames the tensions and
Emily B
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed when my ARC of this book was denied and was eager to read it when I found it at my local library.

It was an engrossing read and I loved the format of chapters mixed with testimonials etc.

The books description talks of the main character needing to stop life imitating art. However I feel this is misleading as it was more the other way around, the events came first and then the art.. which wasn’t as exciting for me.
I found the ending climax to be pretty predictable however I w
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Beautifully told, thought-provoking, and DEEPLY unsettling.
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite not fitting neatly into the mystery/thriller genre, The Body Lies is one of the most tense, terrifying things I've ever read.  It follows an unnamed narrator (a normally irritating, overused convention, which is employed here with actual purpose) who takes up a teaching position somewhere in the north of England following a violent assault in London.  While at the university, she awkwardly attempts to mediate heated discussions on gender politics in her MA writing course, while receiving ...more
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Knopf Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
Edit: (temporary?) dnf. I'm so bored plus there are a ton of other books that I have audio for and that I'm more interested in. Bye for now
Me: *eats gluten*
Me: It's just bread

| Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hooked on this book from page one—sinking into it like a knife into butter. The premise is galvanizing: a thirty-something woman takes a position as a creative writing professor in the rural English countryside on the heels of a violent assault. She is assigned six students, including the immensely talented and mercurial Nicholas Baker, whose work – he claims – is always based on “truth.” Yet the “truth” begins to get darker and darker particularly after the first-person narrator begins to ...more
The book is described as suspenseful and thrilling. It's not.

The story is plodding, with not much happening until the end. And even that end is more unsurprising than exciting.

Our characters are smug and insufferable and they spend the book doing smug and insufferable things - all with an overlay of complete arrogance.

Our main character has an oddly fatalistic viewpoint. Since things are going to happen to her anyway, she simply lets things happen. (Including a very odd sex scene which she hints
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it
A pregnant woman is assaulted. Three years later, she is struggling with living in London and afraid to go out alone. For a fresh start, she takes a job teaching creative writing at a university in the remote English countryside. During her course, a male student writes disturbing stories that blur the line between fiction and reality.

The unnamed narrator is a woman who struggles with life after an assault. The assault colors her view of the world, and eventually leads her to move away from Lond
Roman Clodia
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And I was struggling with my own question of whether there was a way to write female without writing body, and whether there was a way to be female without being reduced to body

The thing I like about Jo Baker is that every book of hers I've read has been utterly different: she's not an author who writes herself into a rut. In this book she tackles fiction head on: how and why people write, writing as a form of gendered expression pre-loaded with ideology, authorship as power, the twisted and
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story begins with an innocent walk home by our main character, a young writer. It is dark and it is raining, it’s quite hard to see. She is wet, her mind is wandering, she has a lot on her mind, so while she sees and hears everything around her, it’s really in a muted state.

Hence it begins...a hooded attacker, first running by and then coming back to grab her.

The author writes so well, we feel as if we are standing there watching all this happen.
Of course, our character is traumatized aft
Mandy White (mandylovestoread)
The Body Lies sounded just like the sort of book that I could really sink my teeth into. It started off well but at around 30% I had to stop. The characters were just awful and obnoxious and the story got confusing and slow. The subjects discussed were also graphic and hard to read.

I have seen some fantastic reviews from fellow book readers but this book just wasn't for me. Thanks to Netgalley and Random House UK for the advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So I give it a full 5 stars. Is it perfect? Not entirely. But it's close. After finishing I did read others' reviews. Plodding? This is how fiction exists to meet life. And how women, no, a WOMAN- proceed to follow or connect to those paths of anxiety or extra radar or just a trying to keep to the middle line of the pulling "loves" dichotomies. This author gets the walk. Loving your child, loving your other, loving your work- and fulfilling career dreams so long in the making and creating.

And ho
I chose to read (listen) to this book because I enjoyed A Country Road, A Tree, and took a liking to Baker's writing. She was educated at Queens University, Belfast where (I believe) she did her dissertation on Samuel Beckett. It was in Belfast in the mid-to-late 90's she recalls "You saw novelists in the street, poets at the cinema. You bumped into playwrights in the pub." That's my kind of city (Dublin used to be like that). My James Joyce Book Club spent a year or more reading Beckett's pros ...more
Sarah Ames-Foley
this is going to haunt me for a long time.


This review can also be found on my blog.

I was first drawn to The Body Lies after reading Rachel’s incredible review of it. I’m glad to have gotten her perspective, because I can see how going into this expecting a thriller would be disappointing. This is not a fast-paced crime novel; this is a quietly terrifying piece of literary fiction. Baker presents an examination of trauma as well as the objectification of women’s bodies that I will not be forge
I loved a lot of the writing in THE BODY LIES, but this was just not a book for me. This book has a lot of things going for it, but I found it disjointed.
When I reviewed Jo Baker’s book A Country Road, A Tree (shortlisted for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017), I described it as ‘clever, literary and powerful’. I feel the same adjectives can be applied to The Body Lies, the author’s foray into the psychological thriller genre but a book which still retains a distinctly literary feel.

Perhaps it’s brave (or maybe a sign of confidence in one’s ability) to write a novel in which the main character is leading a creative writing MA cou
Darcia Helle
I'm cranky. Having established that fact, if you're interested I'll tell you why.

This book is being marketed as "psychological suspense". It's really not. I've grown weary of the use of labels that don't fit, simply because it's the latest hot genre. This book is more literary drama, with a spattering of suspense here and there.

I was initially intrigued by this story. The writing has all the hallmarks of literary fiction: introspective characters, social commentary, slower pace, and a lyrical qu
One of my GoodReads friend's major complaint about this book is that the protagonist comes across as weak. Things just happen to her and she accepts them. Extra work is piled on her. Her husband takes a lover and wants to leave the marriage. She never has much to say in defense of herself. She never seems to take ownership over her life and her destiny. One instance in particular that raised their hackles is the scene where she attends a party hosted by one of her students. At this party, she en ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a literary crime novel – where the emphasis is far more on the characters than a fast moving plot. That doesn’t mean this is not an excellent read, but if you read this thinking it is a fast paced crime novel, then you may be disappointed.

The main character in this novel, is attacked, while pregnant, and this assault changes her life. When son, Sammy, is born, she longs for a safer, different place to bring up her young son. Three years later, she gets a job at University, which leads to
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to confess, the last third made me so tense and anxious that I kind of had to skim parts. It was so well done, but it was almost too much for me! Aah! Super intense, lots to think about.
Rachel Hall
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought-provoking literary thriller with a real sense of menace and crisp writing.

Three years after an unprovoked violent assault by a predatory male on a South London street during pregnancy, our thirty-three-year-old unnamed narrator (basically any interchangeable woman), hasn’t fully recovered in any sense of the word. Her husband doesn’t seem to have grasped the sense of peril she fears in the city and having given up her bookshop job due to the prohibitive expense of childcare she has becom
Alison Hardtmann
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
While pregnant, a young woman is mugged by a stranger as she walks home from work late one winter afternoon. While the physical damage is minimal, she no longer feels safe. When her child is a toddler and it's time for her to return to work, she applies and gets a job teaching at a university in the north of England. Her husband is unwilling to follow her and so they begin a sort of half-relationship where he drives up on weekends and holidays, while she and her son settle in to an isolated cott ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I’d not be doing anyone any favours by rehashing the publisher’s blurb on the plot of this novel. Enough to say that a young university lecturer in creative writing finds one of her male students submitting pages of his work describing his relationship with a woman bearing a striking resemblance to his relationship with her. Except that his take on things is skewed and threatening.

Jo Baker’s skills at characterisation and insights into motivations are to the fore in this novel. Central to the s
Claire Fuller
I really loved the writing. It was a pleasure to read a thriller (if that's what it was) that was beautifully written. The beginning really pulled me in, as well as the university life - which I believe (knowing lots of university lecturers, including some teaching creative writing) was very true to life. I also loved all the narrator's students and how they all interacted in class. In fact the whole of the main story I really enjoyed and raced to finish. It was the peripheral elements that let ...more
It’s unfair to rate this book when I couldn’t pass 30%. Anyways... the writing was too weak and the story not well developed.
switterbug (Betsey)
Do women have agency over their lives, when threatened by men? How can this topic be grappled with without platitudes and clichés so that the story is bracing, believable (and imaginative) as it shakes us up and drops us in? Jo Baker convinced me that I was living in the house with our unnamed narrator, a London writer who was assaulted while pregnant by a large man in a blue anorak, and three years later is still traumatized and wants to leave the city. That’s the point of entry, and the story ...more
Effective psychological thriller about a woman who is attacked and traumatized. She moves to a remote area to teach creative writing, and has a bunch of weirdos as students. I've been in several creative writing classes, and they often are populated by weirdos,so it seemed true to life to me.

One of the better, and odder writers claims he is performing experimental writing, and appears to be writing about stalking a woman...A woman who could be the teacher.

Not bad. I could see something like this
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Now You See Me
  • Supper Club
  • Your Truth or Mine?
  • The Confession
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had
  • Part of the Family
  • The Den
  • The Butterfly Girl (Naomi Cottle, #2)
  • Sudden Traveller
  • Blood Song (Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #3)
  • The Perfect Plan
  • The Murder List
  • Pretty Revenge
  • Sweet Sorrow
  • A Shadow On The Lens
  • The Behavior of Love
  • Night Boat to Tangier
  • The Snakes
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Jo Baker is the author of six novels, most recently Longbourn and A Country Road, A Tree. She has also written for BBC Radio 4, and her short stories have been included in a number of anthologies. She lives in Lancaster, England, with her husband, the playwright and screenwriter Daragh Carville, and their two children.

Related Articles

We asked Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, and journalist-turned-crime novelist Laura...
99 likes · 49 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“We do have rules here. We have responsibilities towards each other. This is not a free-for-all.” 3 likes
“His writing will get inside her and change her leave her different.” 0 likes
More quotes…