Review: The Body Lies by Jo Baker

the body lies jo baker

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Literary Thriller


In The Body Lies, our unnamed narrator takes up a job at a University to teach Creative Writing, she is excited about moving to the countryside and being far away from London, where she suffered a violent assault years earlier and could not feel safe again. But when one of her students disappears from class and starts sending her his work, she realizes he’s writing about her, that he’s been watching her in her own home, all alone with her three-year-old.

The Body Lies is a perfect mixture of Literary Fiction and Thriller, the pacing too slow and too character-focused to be called purely a thriller, and still, it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Sharp, intense and an eerie commentary on the violence against women in real life and as depicted in books, it’s completely incomprehensible to me how this has a 3.5 star rating in Goodreads as of now – this is brilliant!

The narrator herself is a rather awkward and conflict-averse person, who can’t assert herself to save her life, which was frustrating but also understandable. She’s wonderfully compassionate and stays a soft, loving person throughout the book, and although I wish she had punched people on the face a few times, it’s also quite clear that even if she had been ready to put up a fight anytime, rebellious and sassy, many things would have been the same – a man’s intentions to abuse a woman, to leave a wife, to kill a girl, has nothing to do with her, what she says, who she is. It’s all about his own distorted perception of her as a person; this is what I thought was the most powerful thing about this book.

Violence permeates the book, sometimes subtly, a threat, a look, sometimes far more explicit. I flinched a couple of times reading it, so if you’re a more sensitive reader maybe skip it. It was also beyond creepy to see the student writing thoughts, intentions, actions, consent into the narrator and rendering her compliant, love-sick and silent. This was so well executed.

20 thoughts on “Review: The Body Lies by Jo Baker

  1. I’m glad you liked this as well! After I finished it i was BOMBARDING Rachel with complaints about goodreads reviews I was hate-reading. It seems like a lot of people just didn’t GET this portrayal of trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t read the 1-star reviews because honestly they are obviously WRONG this is brilliant!! You’re right – I think so many psychological thrillers lately have a Strong Woman Who Won’t Let Trauma Bring Them Down and people aren’t quite used to realistic portrayals at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Final Thoughts on the Women’s Prize Squad Longlist (Book Blogger Edition) | Naty's Bookshelf

  3. Pingback: The Best Books I Read in 2020 (All Genres) | Naty's Bookshelf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s