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The Body in Question

A Novel
Written by: Jill Ciment
Narrated by: Hillary Huber
Length: 5 hrs and 26 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the author of Heroic Measures (“Smart and funny and completely surprising...I loved every page”, Ann Patchett), Act of God (“A feat of literary magic”, Booklist) and, with Amy Hempel, The Hand That Feeds You (“An unnerving, elegant page-turner”, Vanity Fair), a spare, masterful novel. 

The place: central Florida. The situation: a sensational murder trial, set in a courthouse more Soviet than Le Corbusier; a rich, white teenage girl - a twin - on trial for murdering her toddler brother. 

Two of the jurors: Hannah, a married 52-year-old former Rolling Stone and Interview Magazine photographer of rock stars and socialites (she began to photograph animals when she realized she saw people “as a species”), and Graham, a 41-year-old anatomy professor. Both are sequestered (she, juror C-2; he, F-17) along with the other jurors at the Econo Lodge off I-75. As the shocking and numbing details of the crime are revealed during a string of days and courtroom hours, and the nights play out in a series of court-financed meals at Outback Steak House (the state isn’t paying for their drinks) and Red Lobster, Hannah and Graham fall into a furtive affair, keeping their oath as jurors never to discuss the trial. During deliberations the lovers learn that they are on opposing sides of the case. Suddenly they look at one another through an altogether different lens, as things become more complicated....

After the verdict, Hannah returns home to her much older husband, but the case ignites once again and Hannah’s “one last dalliance before she is too old” takes on profoundly personal and moral consequences as The Body in Question moves to its affecting, powerful, and surprising conclusion.

©2019 Jill Ciment (P)2019 Random House Audio

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

I had read a glowing review of this book. I found it somewhat interesting but was astounded when it came to an abrupt and not very satisfying end.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cascadiapnw
  • 2019-06-16

Thought-Provoking, Humorous and Heart-Breaking

Great narrator, thought-provoking story, hilarious at times and also heartbreaking and deadly serious.

The story has two interwoven plots. The beginning of the story revolves around the trial and the affair between two of the jurors. The final part of the story focuses on life after the trial, where real life returns with a vengeance.

The story is told dispassionately, and, though not in first person, from the perspective of one of the jurors, C-2. She has seized on the opportunity to be on the jury and get away, for the duration, from her elderly and sickly husband. She also takes the opportunity to have an affair with another juror, as if she is on some brief vacation. It turns out to be hardly that, with real life seeping in during the trial, especially during deliberations, as well as coming on with a vengeance after the trial.

As the listener/reader, I felt like a juror myself, not just developing my own view on the guilt of the defendant, but also judging juror C-2 as she cheats on her husband. Like the trial, where the jurors realize they aren’t being told everything, I realize I don’t really know enough to judge C-2. Still I found it hard not to judge her and, ultimately, to feel she's been sentenced to a prison of her own making.

The story could have been told in so many ways. The author chose to tell the story in a matter-of-fact way and to let the reader/listener engage from their own perspective. Though the two plots are heartbreaking, I found myself laughing out loud at the antics of the jurors. The narrator does an excellent job bringing the jurors to life. The “trials” of the jury left me feeling I’d rather be in Hell than on a jury. The story also made me appreciate that juries are just people like us and the service that they do for the community with little to no appreciation.

I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • BK
  • 2019-06-26

A sophisticated and complex psychological study

A very solid 3.5. Don’t think of it as a thriller, despite the fact that it is a murder trial that serves as the center of the story. Rather, it’s a sophisticated psychological study of need, love, compulsion, and desire. Fun to think about where your sympathies should lie, what the titular "body in question" really is, and what -- about ourselves and others -- is truly knowable and forgivable. I can't add more without risking spoilers. Definitely a cut above.

Narrator Hillary Huber does a splendid job in bringing the story to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Tami L. Mendonca
  • 2019-07-13

Underwhelmed

Characters are bland, depressing, and martyrs. Slow and dull without any real message. Boring and uneventful even to the end

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kimberly
  • 2019-07-13

Interesting story-a decent read

I wanted more about the crime- less about the juror character love affair- still, interesting, short, well-written read

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  • Stacey Z.
  • 2019-07-13

perfect narrator!!

I can't imagine a different person reading this story, hey narration was on point! the story is really good, albeit some very sad moments, that are told so beautifully somehow.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • RueRue
  • 2019-07-03

The Bodies in Question

There is more than one body in this multi-layered novel. First, there is the body of a toddler, the victim of arson; there are the bodies of the two jurors who engage in a passionate sexual affair, and the aging body of the adulteress' husband. A lot happens during the short 6 hour narrative. The prose is discriptive and concise. I liked this, but the characters were strangely flat to me...
perhaps intended since most of the time they are nameless members of a jury. Hillary Huber is always a reliable narrator.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • kristen
  • 2019-06-24

Juicy court drama!

I loved this book. I'd recommend it to anyone who loves true crime and/or scandalous romance.