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The Book of Human Skin

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,889 ratings  ·  247 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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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,889 ratings  ·  247 reviews

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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
Lance Greenfield
May 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 g
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"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 wh
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness, I have been swept away by this glorious book. It really is a dark gem: a captivating story, rich with historical details, and packed full of full of characters, incidents, ideas and images.

The story is brought to life by an extraordinary cast of characters so vividly painted. There is a cruel villain, a resourceful heroine, a penniless lover, and a mad woman. There are servants who are loyal but powerless; and there are friends who cannot help as much as they might li
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it

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
My adventures with books in Italy are unending. Wandering on the streets of Bologna I found this awesome bookstore which happened to have an English-books section, so I couldn’t help myself and I browsed its pretty shelves in search of a book with the action in Venice (a city I already visited and based on my experience with reading a book in which he action revolves in a place you’re visiting or you’ve visited it seemed like a pretty good idea) and that’s how I came across this interesting and ...more
May 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2013, x-owned
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charlotte Phillips
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
This was a difficult read. The narrator starts, "This is going to be a little uncomfortable." I beg to differ. It was a lot uncomfortable.

It was a bit confusing at the beginning. There were 5 character points of view that kept switching rather quickly. There were two locations - Peru & Venice. Like the narrators, the location switched back and forth. It was half way, or better, before the one character's connection to the story became clear. I kept wondering when Sol Loretta's story line wa
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
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.
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really struggled with this first part of this book - it changed character and perspective so quickly it was hard to get into, and the prose felt quite heavy and sluggish. If it hadn't been for all the good reviews I'm not sure I would have continued past the first hundred or so pages. However, the pace did pick up and I finally found myself drawn into the story. I enjoyed the plotting and the action towards the end, but overall I was a little disappointed as the cover and blurb sounded so prom ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
An excellent book, well written interesting! 5 Stars!
Lucy Cokes
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.’ Sh
May 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, historical
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
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic
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 fami
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gwen McGinty
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
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. Howe
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wow ok this one is different. I picked it up in a charity shop with interest, though the title should have given me some hint that this is a macabre type of book I was still unprepared for what a nasty piece of work Minguillo was to be. It is uncomfortable reading, but compelling all the same and the story really unfolds and gathers pace in the second half of the book. The most fascinating element of the book for me though was the last 25 pages of the book - the author's notes as she describes w ...more
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure about this.... I only got halfway through this and threw in the towel, which is very unlike me.

I feel my biggest issue with this book was that the plot moved so slowly and was nowhere near as gory as I would imagine or like. It almost seemed that the gory bits were suggested more than detailed.

I felt no affiliation with any of the characters. I just felt they were very black and white.

I think the author tried to cram too much in, although the Napo
May 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
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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
“You need not hate them, for that hurts you too,' she explained. 'It is sufficient to laugh at them.” 3 likes
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