A young British woman watches her life unravel after a risky sexual encounter with an ex-con.
It’s lust at first sight for the unnamed narrator of this unsettling novel, who just can’t help herself when a hunky, fresh-out-of-prison claimant enters the benefits office where she works. The two end up having a quickie in the parking garage, an unprecedented act that triggers something self-destructive in her. She tracks him down afterwards, and they embark on a highly dysfunctional affair characterized by his cruelty and her degradation. There are thrills to be had as well, but her obsession drowns out every other relationship in her life. Her loving parents and loyal best friend Allison try to snap her out of it, but it is no use. She slacks off at her job, makes a fool of herself on a blind date with a decent bloke and generally does everything she can to distance herself from the solid middle-class world she came from. Fitfully aware of the toxicity of her relationship (he disappears for weeks with her car, disrupts her grandmother’s funeral reception), the girl makes some feeble attempts at a normal life. The ironic titles of each chapter read like daily affirmations suggested in a self-help book, and inject a creepy humor into the increasingly bleak proceedings. Her internal struggle over Mr. Wrong seems to jeopardize her very sanity. Naturally, something has to give, and although both reader and heroine know it will end badly, the shocking finish still comes as a surprise. With a distinctive, cliché-free writing style and a psychologically complex “victim,” this first novel from talented, award-winning Welsh writer Davies (Grace, Tamar and Lazlo the Beautiful, 2009) points to a promising future.
Darkly sardonic exploration of sexual obsession.