A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth
Published: 2010 by Europa Editions
I admit -- I picked up this book because of its publisher. I have enjoyed everything I've read from Europa Editions so when I am browsing a bookstore with an itch to purchase if I see one of their distinctive covers on the shelf I will pick it up.
And with this book I was most definitely not disappointed! A Kind of Intimacy is a thrilling novel that gave me the creeps at times but never made me want to stop reading.
The novel is about Annie, an overweight woman moving to a new home to make a new start. It is not immediately clear why she needs that new start, but it seems that she may be running away from something. But she settles in and appears to be working toward that new start by reading all of the self-help books stocked at the public library and making an effort to get to know her neighbors; especially Neil, the man who lives next door with his girlfriend Lucy and who Annie believes she has met before.
I think because of her weight problem and the fact that some of the neighbors (ok, Lucy) are indirectly rude to her because of it, I initially felt extremely sorry for Annie and understood her infatuation with Neil (haven't we all done that?) And as she made the efforts to improve herself -- emotionally if not physically -- I wanted to cheer for her. But as she describes her progress in self-improvement, she also provides anecdotes to the life she left behind -- about her emotionally distant father, her deceased mother, her childhood friend Boris and his family, and her husband Will -- the picture of Annie completely changes and with each revelation of her past the scenes get darker and you start to wonder how -- not if -- Annie's illusory world is going to crack and who is going to be affected.
I mentioned that the book gave me the creeps at times, and I think part of the reason is because I saw something of myself in Annie. I'm not the most outgoing person in the world and sometimes feel awkward in social situations, so I have been known to "attach" myself to anyone who pays me any positive attention. And that could also be why I initially felt sorry for Annie. Thankfully, though, that is the only characteristic her and I have in common.
If you like literary fiction, you will love this book. If you like page-turning thrillers, you will love this book. In fact, I think anyone will love this book, so just do yourself a favor and pick it up.