A London actor is pursued by an obsessed American fan.
Kristin is alone. Her house in Pennsylvania no longer bears any traces of her businessman ex-husband or her stepsons except for a small Spider-Man toy left behind by the youngest boy. But rather than feeling lonely, she fills her inner life with Henry Banks, a British actor featured prominently in a Downton Abbey–esque period drama called The Grange. Of Henry, Kristin rhapsodically thinks, “He was the key signature in which the music of her life was played.” Believing Henry is her “twin soul,” Kristin handwrites him fan letters and plots a trip across the ocean to engineer an encounter with him. Henry, too, cultivates his own obsessions, namely snagging the lead role in the upcoming film by genius director Miguel García, a move that should catapult him into the same realm as “Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hiddleston.” In the meantime, he moves with affable narcissism through film festivals, drug-fueled parties, and sex with models, unaware of the collision course he is on with Kristin. For the first time since his debut novel, Foulds (In the Wolf’s Mouth, 2014, etc.) has turned his keen attention to the present day, and the result is a book whose “thriller” label comes less from plot and more from the deepening unsettlement as Foulds turns the lights up on the derangements, both mundane and catastrophic, that drive both Henry and Kristin. As always with Foulds, though, the real star here is the writing, a delight at the smallest levels—as when Henry is “simplified inside the diagram of his suit”—and the larger, pinning down with a kind of otherworldly skill at observation the lengths to which people will go for acceptance.
An incisive and disquieting look at the consequences of fame.