Saturday, 27 March 2010

'A Kind of Intimacy'

I just finished reading Jenn Ashworth’s novel,‘A Kind of Intimacy’, and it’s a book which I think is going to stay with me.

The novel is told in the first person by Annie, whom we first meet as she moves, with her cat, Mr Tips, into her new home in Fleetwood, Lancashire, to start afresh following - what? A nasty divorce? An escape from an abusive relationship? A personal tragedy? At first, both to the reader, and to Annie’s unfortunate new neighbours, Annie appears naive, vulnerable, clearly clumsy (both socially and physically) but hopeful, and trying to better herself. She is not the most attractive character, but in her clumsy efforts to broaden her own horizons, and to move forward, she initially attracts sympathy, not fear.

As the story unfolds, we learn more about Annie’s past, and present, the dissonance between Annie’s interpretation of events, and the reader’s understanding of them becomes greater and more disturbing, but without Annie’s voice ever becoming lost, and without the reader ever completely losing a sense of her as a person.

The book has it’s darkly comic moments, and many more where all but the most self-confident reader will have an uncomfortable sense of familiarity.

A gripping, if not altogether comfortable read.

Full disclosure: I received this book free as a review copy, and I’d very glad I did, as I doubt I would have picked it out otherwise, which would have been my loss.

Just - don’t give it to your new neighbour as a welcome gift. . . .

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