theladylovesbooks star rating 'Mutton' by India Knight


Rating: 4 out of 5.

I finished this gem in one (late) night sitting!

Clara Hutt is 46-years-old and is feeling good about herself. She is separated, maintains a good relationship with the father of her children, has had until this current drought, a fairly active and satisfying love life. All in all she seems to be taking the ageing process in her stride. That is until a couple of things give her a cause for thought. Namely, the lack of wolf-whistles or winks from a building site, despite walking past several times (just to be sure) and the arrival of Clara’s old friend Gaby.

Gaby, who once accompanied Clara on the couch with bags of crisps and bottles of wine, left the UK for a ridiculously healthy sounding yoga-based lifestyle in the US. Her total transformation into a svelte, yoga-toned, calorie counting and beautifully glamorous 49-year-old bothers Clara. Where are the rolls of fat gone? What’s with the unfaltering discipline when it comes to dieting? And, most important of all, why doesn’t Gaby’s face look her bloody age?!

Clara is perturbed, she begins to spend a little more time scrutinising her crows feet in the mirror, a little more time pulling the skin of her forehead upwards ‘just to see’ what it might look like. It’s only a matter of time before she succumbs to Botox and becomes fascinated by the world of cosmetic surgery.

Knight’s book is hilarious. Clara astutely observes cosmetic surgery fanatics masquerading as lucky women naturally blessed with great genes. Her reaction upon discovering just how common cosmetic enhancement is —shock, disillusionment, suspicion and a little betrayal—is honest, thoughtful and funny.

Lest you be bored by a book full of Botox needles, Knight has included a very entertaining subplot involving her son, his girlfriend Sky and Sky’s bonkers father, Bernard. Having a bit of fun with literature’s latest obsession with fantasy series, Knight makes Bernard a hugely successful author of the genre. Sky naturally is a big fan but Clara gets a surprise when the normally cool, collected Gaby goes weak-kneed at the thought of meeting the eccentric author. Much to Clara’s dismay, the pair proceeds to litter their conversations with all sorts of odd vocabulary only Bernard’s die-hard fans will understand. One thing leads to another and before you know it Clara and Gaby find themselves travelling to meet Bernard who has been dispatched by his publisher to a remote Scottish island to complete his next book.

Knight manages to weave these two plot lines together perfectly so that Clara’s new-found concern with aging is soothed by Gaby’s relaxed regression into her true, as opposed to cosmetically enhanced, younger self.

A great read by accomplished journalist India Knight, two thumbs up!

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