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A Kind of Intimacy

A Kind of Intimacy

4.3 3
by Jenn Ashworth

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A Kind of Intimacy is a sardonic look at self-help gone disastrously wrong. In Annie Fairhurst's world, the past can never loosen its grip on the present, and the persistent exhortation to better oneself and one's lot in life urges her, time and time again, to embark on thoroghly terrifying journeys.

Annie is obese, socially awkward, yet determined to


A Kind of Intimacy is a sardonic look at self-help gone disastrously wrong. In Annie Fairhurst's world, the past can never loosen its grip on the present, and the persistent exhortation to better oneself and one's lot in life urges her, time and time again, to embark on thoroghly terrifying journeys.

Annie is obese, socially awkward, yet determined to escape a difficult past and to start over. She moves into a new neighborhood, bringing virtually nothing from her previous life with her. Then again, there is very little of her previous life left to bring. She has wiped the slate clean.

Neil, Annie's unsuspecting new neighbor, makes the mistake of being friendly and, convinced his friendliness indicates that he is enamored of her, Annie's bizzare behavior escalates from petulant to, finally, criminal. All the while, Annie is convinced that she is the one to whom life has dealt a foul hand, that she is the real victim. As the persona she has so meticulusly created begins to crumble, a bloody and disastrous finale seems inevitable.

Editorial Reviews

Annie Fairhurst is looking forward to a fresh start. Overweight and socially awkward, she has shrugged off her unhappy past, jettisoning unattractive furniture, unfriendly neighbors, unpleasant memories, and her controlling husband and her clingy daughter.

With a mountain of self-help books to sort out life's terrifying twists and turns, Annie's confidence grows. This time she'll get things right. Yet despite her best efforts and meticulous planning, she's never quite able to make her old life disappear. Like a surplus of bad pennies, there's always something to remind her of everything she'd like to forget. And when Annie meets a new neighbor, she mistakes simple human kindness for a romantic interest, setting in motion a series of events that threaten to destroy her new life.

A Kind of Intimacy is a marvel of a book which the singularity of Annie's voice drives so compellingly. Deeply personal and unsettlingly familiar, it provokes the uncomfortable realization that there's a bit of Annie in each of us. Ashworth's uncanny insight into a mind both fragile and damaged will remind readers of the best psychological thrillers, while her mordant humor adds its own dimension. Even when things have gone horribly wrong, Annie remains sympathetic and winsome, still trusting that the gentleness and connection she seeks are out there somewhere, waiting just for her.

Publishers Weekly
In her debut novel, Ashworth takes on a formidable task: an insane yet sympathetic protagonist whose efforts at self-help spell disaster. Annie Fairhurst is a socially inept and obese Briton who has murdered her husband and child—which is alluded to but not confirmed until later in the story. She moves into a duplex occupied by an unmarried couple, Neil and Lucy, and Annie immediately becomes obsessed with Neil, who unfortunately makes the mistake of being friendly. In Annie's warped mind, Neil is sending her secret signals of love, although no rational human being would agree from the evidence presented. Annie clashes with Lucy from the start and as their relationship devolves, Annie's strange and aggressive behavior—putting trash through Neil and Lucy's mail slot, stealing Lucy's dress, listening to Lucy and Neil's conversations through the shared wall of their duplex—escalates from childish to, finally, criminal, in a shocking series of actions. Interspersed throughout are glimpses of Annie's past, her troubled marriage and stilted feelings toward her infant daughter, Grace. The beautiful, provocative prose and dangerous, quirky protagonist mark Ashworth as a writer to watch. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
A self-absorbed young woman cannot outrun her troubled past when she tries for a new start in a British suburb. Her head filled with self help-book affirmations, newly-single (and morbidly obese) Annie Fairhurst believes, at age 27, that her life has finally begun. Bringing little more than her cat, Mr. Tips, she moves to a modest home on a quiet street and almost immediately fixates on her neighbor, Neil, a decent bloke who lives and works next door. Mistaking Neil's small kindnesses for romantic interest, Annie imagines a future for the two of them, in spite of the fact that he is happily cohabitating with his skinny, nubile girlfriend Lucy. Charting her "self development and personal progress," in an increasingly warped file, Annie throws a cringe-worthy housewarming party, gets a new hairdo and begins tormenting Lucy in assorted bizarre ways. These range from going through her trash, to pulling out her primroses, to buying the same dress as her rival. Annie naturally denies any wrongdoing, making Lucy look merely high-strung. Annie manages somehow to inspire more pity than fear in Neil and other well-meaning locals, but disturbing details from her previous life emerge. She married young after an unhappy childhood, to a dentist named Will who may or may not have abused her. There was an infant girl as well, Grace, who, like her father, is no longer among the living. Throw in a bunch of kinky encounters with men she met through Abundance magazine and you have a queasy recipe for disaster. So does her history make Annie a victim, a villain or something in between? She is certainly bonkers, with her delusions leading to an inevitable but shocking conclusion. An impressive debut that will remind some of the work of Patricia Highsmith. A nasty, but tough-to-put-down portrait of a sociopath.
The Times
Evokes a damaged mind with the empathy and confidence of Ruth Rendell

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.04(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Jenn Ashworth studied English at Cambridge University and Creative Writing at Manchester. In 2006 an exract from A Kind of Intimacy was short-listed in a national competition entitled "The Enigma of Personality."

In 2009 she left her job as a prison librarian in order to work on her second novel. You can read her award-winning blog at www.jennashworth.co.uk

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Kind of Intimacy 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
JulieKristine More than 1 year ago
I always make it a point to check out the "Discover New Writers" section of B&N. What caught my eye about this book was the comparison The London Times made of the author to that of the great writer, Ruth Rendell. Rendell happens to be one of my favorite authors. It was a great comparison. If you love British psychological character studies, you will love this book. I couldn't put it down. I can hardly wait for her next book!
paradox_defined More than 1 year ago
If you liked the movie Obsessed, you will enjoy this book. Without giving away to much, I will say the pacing is slow, but in a way that builds anticipation. Read this book, you will not regret it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago