Author: Jenn Ashworth, 2009.
Genre: Drama-Comedy. Suspense.
Other Details: Paperback. 282 pages.
Annie Fairhurst is an overweight rather lonely woman, who in the opening chapter leaves behind her old life and moves to a new neighbourhood. Through her narration we learn of her attempts to ingratiate herself with her new neighbours as well as her desire for a 'certain kind of intimacy' with Neil, her next door neighbour. This desire soon becomes an obsession and her behaviour towards him and others, especially his live-in girlfriend Lucy, becomes increasingly bizarre. Over the course of the novel Annie also slowly reveals her past and those events and secrets that have shaped her.
This was an impressive début novel; well-written, intelligent and very engaging. From its opening pages I knew that Annie was going to prove an unreliable narrator as the warning signs of her instability were clear. While there were elements of black comedy about the story, I did not find it 'laugh out loud funny' as this reviewer for 'The Guardian' did and maybe this is because Annie's craving for intimacy which she gets all wrong, including her over reliance on self-help books, was something quite easy to empathize with.
Overall, I found it quite an unsettling read as Annie's behaviour became stranger. Her thoughts about her situation clearly become more disturbed along with shocking revelations about her past. Jenn Ashworth does an excellent job of capturing a sense of mental and emotional disintegration.
The novel proved very popular with our reading group and provoked discussion over a range of subjects. It was It wasn't the kind of book I'd normally choose to read so was grateful that it had been selected.
Jenn Ashworth's Page on 'A Kind of Intimacy' - includes extract and other information.