Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Kind of Intimacy; Jenn Ashworth

Author: Jenn Ashworth
Publication Year: 2011 
Publisher: Europa
Edition: Kindle eBook
Source: personal copy
Date Completed: 7/10/2011 
Setting: British Suburb
Rating: 5/5
Recommend: yes - it's wonderful!

Annie Fairhurst, 27 and newly single has just relocated to a British suburb with her cat, Mr. Tips. Annie is an obese and socially awkward young woman, who actually seems content with her size and who she is.  It is important to her to make a good impression with the new people she meets, so she has immersed herself in personal development books about socializing and making conversation.  She's vague about her past, and when she does talk about it, you are never quite sure if she is telling the truth.

In her efforts to make friends and get to know her neighbors she decides to throw a housewarming party. She sends out 30 invitations, prepares a hedgehog centerpiece with pickled onions for eyes, and raisins for the irises, sets out her cow shaped milk pitcher, among other treats, and is ready for the party to begin. She thought the centerpiece would make for some good conversation.  Although the party is a disaster in the eyes of those she was trying to impress, she thinks it went well.  She even believes the friendliness of her next door neighbor Neil, is really a romantic crush on her. The fact that Neil has a cute, 19 year old live-in girlfriend named Lucy, is not even a factor in Annie's eyes, because she knows if Lucy were gone, they would be together.
"Sometimes I liked to imagine that Neil's bed was pushed up against the wall like mine, so near that I could hear his breathing. There was nothing inappropriate with my imaginings, far from it. Just the thought of hearing someone nearby helped me to sleep."
 " The newspaper he gave her felt like a lover's token, a little indication of his concern for me. "
An unreliable narrator, as the story progresses, the reader gets some insight into Annie's past: her very sad childhood, her problematic marriage, and the risky behavior she has engaged in,  all in attempts to find love, acceptance and companionship.  It's clear she is delusional and pretty much the "sociopath next door".   Each new chapter shows you just how twisted and laughable her logic is.  Just when you think she's gotten herself into the worst mess possible, something new happens, and it isn't long before her past catches up to her.

Annie is a whacky gal, who I found endearing in a bizarre sort of way.  At times I pitied her, and her desperate attempts for love and acceptance.  The story is dark and addictive. An unforgettable birds-eye view of the dark side of a fractured mind.  I LOVED this book, and it is without a doubt, my favorite book read in 2011.

(If you are serious about wanting to read this book, DO NOT read the Publisher's Weekly review of it -- it contains MAJOR SPOILERS).

32 comments:

  1. It's interested that the book is narrated from the point of view of the strange character. This one has gone on my wishlist :)

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  2. Wow, that is very high praise - the best book so far this year! I'm adding this to my wish list.

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  3. Putting this on my list. Best book you have read in 2011 is the only reason I need. Thanks.

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  4. Very interesting! It's going on my wish list!

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  5. I agree with bermudaonion, that is quite a nice review, and it does sound good!

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  6. This sounds like a fun read with substance, I love the British setting and background. That is high praise for it to be a favorite of the year! I'll be checking it out for my Kindle reading.

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  7. Yes, with such strong praise, I'm adding A KIND OF INTIMACY to my wish list (and will avoid the PW review, thanks for the warning).

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  8. Your enthusiasm is contagious--I'm adding this to my already immense TBR mountain at once!

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  9. I am definitely going to check this one out!

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  10. This was such an unusual book to read. I couldn't figure whether I liked it or not at the beginning but it grew on me!

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  11. The fact that you label this book your favorite of the year makes me think I must read it!

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  12. I have been interested in the book since quite some time. Someone like Annie would creep me out, at the same time I would pity her too. I am definitely going to read this one.

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  13. I wouldn't have picked this one up at all, from the cover or the description, but you have my attention since you thought it was so good.

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  14. This book sounds freaking awesome!

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  15. The thing that I loved about this book was how easily I stepped into crazy world. And Ashworth doesn't make the reader work for it. And although it is dark I found her behavior kind of exhilarating. For someone like me who plays by the rules all the time, the thought of behaving that way kind of fascinates me.

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  16. Wow! I have not yet read a book by an unreliable narrator! this does sound a weirdly good book!

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  17. I like the dark side of fractured minds! Fab.

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  18. This book sounds quite a lot like Wish Her Safe at Home, although in that case, the heroine was much more innocent than this one sounds. I am going to have to check this one out. I loved Wish Her Safe at Home and think I would probably love this one too. Great review, by the way!

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  19. I would never have considered this book, but your rave review makes me think I should try it.

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  20. I very much enjoy dark and addictive stories, this sounds quite different than I imagined after reading the first paragraph in your earlier post.

    Happy to hear how much you enjoyed this book, Diane. I made the same claim of my latest read yesterday too!

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  21. Wow, that's really glowing praise for this one. I'll have to check it out. It certainly does sound like something I would like.

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  22. I just had to come back and say that by that cover and the title of the book I would never have picked it up or looked at it. Neither seems to match what the book is really about or maybe after reading it, it does.

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  23. This one sounds fabulous! I haven't heard of it, but I'm scooting over to add it now!

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  24. High praise, indeed! I've been meaning to read more Europa books and this one sounds divine. I'm off to find a copy now.

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  25. This book just made it onto my masters reading list for next semester, after reading your review I'm going to buy it for sure, sounds interesting and sad. Thanks

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  26. This sounds like a really great read, thanks for the heads up about the spoilers - I really hate it when that happens!

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  27. I am definitely going to grab this one...Annie sounds like a wonderful character, and any book that makes your best book of the year list, is one that I want to read. Thanks for the great review!

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  28. Just the way you described her at the end had me wanting to read it and then when you listed it as your fave of the year, I knew I MUST read it!!

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  29. I love wacky and this looks wackily good. Ginny sounds like a great character.

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  30. Sorry for my lack of comments on your blog - I have been having major computer issues for the last 10 days. I am reading on my phone, but writing things is a big problem. Just wanted to pop by and let you know - and also say that I have this book on my pile so am very happy to see that you love it so much.

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  31. This is a title I've never heard of, and you have me intrigued, especially with its best book of 2011 rating!

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  32. Great review. BookQuoter reviewed and linked you.

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