This pertinent, timely, intelligent and incredibly compelling exploration of the relationship we have with our own bodies opens in Bali. Natalie, its protagonist, is uncomfortable in her own skin. Her most recent relationship is long since over and she’s become disillusioned with her career as a teacher adopting a tried-and-tested attempt at self-discovery, she packs her bags to go travelling.
Natalie travels to Bali, New Zealand, Australia, Dublin, rural Ireland and the Netherlands to try and find her place, but her isolation abroad only heightens her sense of unease. Her journey is psychological as well as physical she is obsessed with her shape, believing herself to be awkward and over-large, recoiling from relationships with men and eating compulsively as a self-destructive reaction to her issues with her weight.
As the narrative unfolds, we gradually become aware of a crucial development in Natalie beginning to take place. This novel engages powerfully with issues that are important to women, and also to people in general, via an incredibly beguiling protagonist she is intelligent and self-aware, sharp and acute, and able to see the comic side of her predicament. An intensely enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
A great piece of writing can make us feel less alone with our own pain and also make us more aware of other struggles that we might not otherwise have thought of. Skin is such a novel.