Undying: A Love Story (2016): Michel Faber


In late ’88, not knowing how lucky I was, / I met a woman who would die of cancer.’ So begins Michel Faber’s Lucky, one of the first poems in this collection written during and after the death of his beloved wife Eva from cancer in June 2014. It’s hard to know what to say: to even read these poems feels like intruding on a raw, agonising grief. To try to review them feels like an insult. How can you review expressions of grief and loss? How can I possibly give fewer than five stars, as if suggesting that Faber’s agony somehow wasn’t quite enough? And yet I did want to write about Undying because, as a collection, this is a very necessary book. Taken together, the poems explore every heartbreaking angle of bereavement in a simple narrative that progresses from diagnosis through treatment and remission, to death and then the dreadful aftermath: the terrifying challenge of trying to rebuild a life without the one you most love by your side.

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The Book of Strange New Things (2014): Michel Faber


Peter Leigh believes in miracles. He has escaped a past of alcoholism and addiction, and rebuilt his life with his beloved wife Bea at his side. As a pastor, he hopes to inspire others with the love of God that eventually gave him the strength to break out of his own spiral of destruction. And yet even he is amazed by the marvellous thing that has just happened to him. The vast corporation USIC has selected him, from the hundreds they interviewed, to travel out to the newly-settled world of Oasis, where he will minister to the indigenous population. It’s the greatest missionary opportunity since the days of the early Church. Peter can’t wait to get started. And yet there is one bitterly sad thing about his new adventure. He will have to leave his darling Bea behind.

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Under the Skin (2000): Michel Faber


Every day, Isserley spends hours driving along the A9, the arterial road which runs like a backbone through Scotland. She’s always on the lookout for hitchhikers, but she has a few ground rules. She only stops for the tall, well-muscled ones. And she loses interest pretty quickly if it turns out that they’re married, or have a girlfriend. You see, Isserley’s very careful. She’s only really interested in the ones no one would miss. The twisted offspring of a sci-fi novel, a murder mystery and an urban legend, Michel Faber’s story plays with expectations in a way that’s fascinating – but deeply disturbing.

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