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Tarantula [Paperback]

Thierry Jonquet , Donald Nicholson-Smith
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 10 Nov 2005 --  

Book Description

10 Nov 2005
Richard Lafargue is an eminent plastic surgeon haunted by dirty secrets. He has an operating theatre in the basement of his chateau and keeps his partner Eve imprisoned in her bedroom, a room he has equipped with an intercom and 300-watt speakers through which he bellows orders. Eve is only allowed out to be paraded at cocktail parties and on the last Sunday of each month, when the couple visit a young woman in a mental asylum. Following these outings, Lafargue humiliates Eve by forcing her to perform lewd sexual acts with strangers while he watches through a one-way mirror. In alternating chapters, Jonquet introduces seemingly unrelated characters ? a criminal on the run after murdering a policeman, and an abducted young man who finds himself chained naked in a dark chamber, forced to endure all manner of physical torture at the hands of a mysterious stranger, whom he calls ?Mygale?, after a type of tropical spider. All of these characters are caught in a deceitful web, doomed to meet their fate.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (10 Nov 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852428953
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852428952
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 784,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Reads like an unholy collaboration between Sade and Sartre... Much like Poe's tales of terror, Tarantula is a story that invites both respect and repulsion (Washington Post)

Book Description

Film by Almodovar, based on Jonquet's novel, starring Antonio Banderas to be released widely in the UK on 26 August --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly stunning end 12 July 2009
Jonquet's novel makes compulsive reading where you find yourself nearing an end you think cannot happen,it does! and i'm not giving away anything. A pimping plastic surgeon,vegetative madwoman and would be Kaspar Hauser along with some very dark humerous moments make for a nonstop roller ride!The writing is short and precise and gothic in every sense of the word.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Scary Spider 19 Aug 2010
The real tarantula is the relish with which Jonquet presents his deliciously deviant, Noir-like world, immersing you in quietly terrifying ideas which ensnare your imagination. His masterly manipulation of words constructs a plot concerned with the forced re-invention of a captive and is permeated by a air of sinister, psychologically thrilling unease. The gradual dismantling of an individual's nature and physical self, the speed at which free will and personality ebbs away, leaving only an empty shell that's vulnerable to re-creation at the hands of a Frankenstein - this is Jonquet's domain.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book having seen the Almodovar film "The Skin I Live In" (which got under my skin!) as I had read it was based on this book.

The book is a fairly short gothic style thriller. I did enjoy it and it's definitely worth reading. It's about a plastic surgeon with a beautiful wife he apparently keeps captive.

I was never bored and kept page turning.

However, the writing style is fairly average; it suffers from that amateur style of third person "telling the reader" something, rather than "showing them". eg. Richard was in a rage; rather than a description of the sort of things people do or say in a nasty rage.

There are some plot differences with the film and it's worth reading out of interest if you liked the film. But they are very different creatures. The film is like sophisticated world class soprano; whereas the book is more like a preasonable nightclub singer in a local dive.

I'd score this book a healthy 3.5 stars. It's better than "it's OK" but not "I *really* like it". Worth reading as an accompaniment to the film; but won't set the world on fire on its own merits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I thought I knew what weird meant... 26 Jun 2013
By Miss AL Holloway TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Tarantula takes weird, crazy and disturbing to a whole new level. I knew nothing of this novel until I heard about the film The Skin I Live In, which was based on this book. At the time the film was not coming out for several months but I was so curious about it that I had to read the book first.

This is a fairly short book but it is great quality content, the story is like nothing else. I can not give away the plot here, but be warned, it is dark and twisted, and very disturbing.

If you have seen the film, which I now have, but not read the book, be aware that the story is not exactly the same and the ending in particular differs. I think I slightly prefer the book but both are worth your time if you enjoy the bizzare.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars YAWN 13 Oct 2011
By R. Lee
A very short book indeed. I agree with some of the other comments. It was stilted in parts. I've yet to see the film - usually the other way around for me - film then book.

My main gripe with the book is the Americanisation of French literature. Why Oh why must European books and authors be mutilated with American spellings and terminology? The French do not use the terms 'movie', 'fries' or 'rube'. It's nothing less that linguistic imperialism. As such the progression of the story is halted by these grave errors. Why not go the whole hog and set the story in the Bronx instead of Paris?

The ending can be predicted about a third from the final chapter. Not very good. Hopefully Almodovar's offering will be much better.
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