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This Body: A Novel of Reincarnation Paperback – February 8, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1st Back Bay Pbk. Ed edition (February 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316196614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316196611
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,388,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A fresh, thoughtful spin on the well-worn fantasy of inhabiting another body, this offbeat debut borrows the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream and submits them to a very 1990s enchantment. On midsummer night?June 21?39-year-old Katharine Ashley dies of a heart attack in Northern California. The mother of two, whose worldliness consists of having seen the film Woodstock five times in 1970, wakes up a year after her death on a squalid bathroom floor in L.A. She finds herself trapped in the drug- and alcohol-dependent body?and in the unhappy family?of 22-year-old photographer and all-around gilded youth Thisby Bennett. Without any of the discomfiture one might expect in such sitcom circumstances, Katharine navigates Thisby's world, which includes a harelipped sister named Quince and an all-too-attractive brother called Puck. Determined to save everyone (Quince, Puck, her own children and Thisby herself), Katharine discovers much about the temptations and risks of mothering and second chances. It doesn't matter whether this is "a three-second dream before she really dies" or a wonderfully believable wake-up-as-someone-else. The more Shakespeare (and Fawlty Towers and Sesame Street) one knows, the more pleasurable it is to read this crisply written, wry and intelligent book; yet even the reader who falls far short of Doud's knowledge of the Bard will appreciate the emotional resonance of the Katharine/Thisby identity struggle.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The premise of this Shakespearean tribute is arresting: a middle-aged housewife dies suddenly of a stroke. A year later she wakes up in the apartment?and body?of a slim 22-year-old substance abuser, alcoholic, and drug courier, Thisby Bennet. Katharine's painful quest to integrate her consciousness with Thisby's body and its demands and to accept the loss of her former family is beautifully rendered, as is her complex relationship with Thisby's Shakespeare-mad family. Desperate for information about the family she has left behind, especially about her beloved teenage children, Katharine hires a detective, and complications ensue. The names of all the Bennet clan come from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and most of the words they utter are quotations from Shakespeare. This can be annoying, but the richness and intricacy of the plot propel the reader swiftly toward its satisfying conclusion. First novelist Doud is a librarian. Suitable for all fiction collections.?Judith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll., Bronxville, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

And Laurel Doud takes this unique and interesting idea and writes it in a vivid and entrancing prose style.
hairanma@ucla.edu
She has a brother and sister who she has yet to meet, as well as a personality like a banshee with a nasty reputation to uphold, or so it is believed.
Denise Bentley
There are underdeveloped characters, side plots that don't go very far before fizzling off and a bit of incest that is, but isn't.
Quaker Annie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I picked up This Body merely because it was by a local author and I was curious. Much to my surprise, it turned out to be one of the best books I've read in years. The characters are likeable, the story is involving, and the heroine is someone I would like to know. Dumped suddenly and unceremoniously into the middle of Thisby's life, Katharine is faced with difficult choices, heart-rending dilemmas, and fascinating opportunities. On the surface, this is the story of how she feels her way along a path beset with unpredictable pitfalls as she comes to an uneasy accomodation with her new family, her new identity, and the addiction she inherited along with her new body. And on that level alone, it is an inventive and entertaining read. But on a more fundamental level, This Body is the story of a woman who gets a unique and priceless opportunity to view herself quite literally through someone else's eyes. Katharine, who never got the chance to be a child, comes together with Thisby, who never got the chance to be an adult, and together they find a wholeness that neither was able to achieve alone. Along the way the book delivers tragedy, loss, hope, humor, warmth, scandal, insight, and the simple voyeuristic fun of getting a peek into someone else's life and family. This Body is a book that will keep you highly entertained while you read it, and will keep you thinking long after you've finished it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Schroeder on July 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I simultaneously wanted to savor this story and plow through the book. To me, it was that good. Can you really call this a story of reincarnation? The main character, Katherine Ashley, wakes up in a skinny, no, make that emaciated body of a rich girl from Beverly Hills. A drug addict and alcoholic. Katherine is a middle class Baby Boomer. Married young, two kids, housewife. Worries too much about her children. And dies fairly young (mid to late 40s?).

She copes in her new life and body as she did in her old one. Trying to be in control of the situation as best as possible under the circumstances. I felt Katherine was both more vulnerable yet also in some ways tougher than she thought she was. And to me the story was around that aspect of her personality. That in her new surroundings (in every imaginable way) she got to finally explore what being alive is about and also about herself.

I think women of all ages will really enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By F. Mercer on July 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
I had a recurring dream where I died and came back in another body and tried to resurrect my life, so it was interesting to read someone else's take on what that might be like. I agree with the reviewer who found the last quarter of the book disappointing. It seems Doud just lost the energy to write more. Up until the gallery showing, she did an excellent job of showing Katharine's interactions with Thisby's family and her life, but then there is an abrupt, inexplicable change in Katharine that speeds us towards the end of the novel. I found the ending to be disatisfying and hurried. Still, this novel is worth the read for the other three quarters!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By hairanma@ucla.edu on April 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
When Katherine Ashley, a middle-aged mother, dies suddenly in her sleep, she does not expect to wake up the next morning in the body of a beautiful, twenty-two year old drug addict. However, she does, and this is the premise for Laurel Doud's exciting first novel. This San Jose librarian has undoubtedly written a book that will come as a nice surprise to the literary world. It has been years since I've seen a book with such an original premise as this book has. A story about a middle-aged mother dying and being reincarnated into the body of a beautiful twenty-two year old drug addict doesn1t sound boring by anyone's standards. And Laurel Doud takes this unique and interesting idea and writes it in a vivid and entrancing prose style. She does not rely on convention or tradition, but writes like one human talking to another; this book is completely devoid of pretentiousness. Instead, Laurel writes like a real human being telling a very real story that moves from light-hearted to dramatic instantly and smoothly, making a story that is full of emotion. This is not a book about reincarnation, it1s more a story of identity and isolation. It is not a cheesy horror novel about near-death experiences; it is about a woman's problem trying to live the life of a young woman's broken and chaotic life, while trying to deal with the chaos of her own soul. While reading this book I was amazed at the way in which Doud was able to write the main character, Katherine, as being so very alone. Her deft accuracy in writing about such solitude will surely intrigue existentialists everywhere, but also her ability to write such strength and vivid realism in her women will attract a large feminist following.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By sarah on December 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I finished this book last night and I'm not sure what I think of it. Seeing as I'm much closer to Thisby's age than to Katharine's, I was much impressed with the author's insights into youth, maturity, and family, and I think that the opportunity to see into the mind of a mother has helped me understand my own parents. I also liked the way she tied in both Shakespeare and classic movies, and the skillful drawing of the character of Quince. However, the story was definitely flawed. Huge leaps in time gloss over some of the most important parts of Thisby/Katharine's story, characters enter abruptly and are just as unceremoniously forgotten about, and symbols fly about without any hint as to their meanings. Doud clearly intends for us to read This Body more than once, but I'm not sure I want to spend the time, even with the promise of more of her lovely insight awaiting me. Sorry, but the intelligent Ms. Doud just isn't a masterful storyteller just yet.
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