Crazy, in love.
In her debut novel, Ashworth takes on a formidable task: an insane yet sympathetic protagonist whose efforts at self-help spell disaster. Annie Fairhurst is a socially inept and obese Briton who has murdered her husband and child—which is alluded to but not confirmed until later in the story. She moves into a duplex occupied by an unmarried couple, Neil and Lucy, and Annie immediately becomes obsessed with Neil, who unfortunately makes the mistake of being friendly. In Annie's warped mind, Neil is sending her secret signals of love, although no rational human being would agree from the evidence presented. Annie clashes with Lucy from the start and as their relationship devolves, Annie's strange and aggressive behavior—putting trash through Neil and Lucy's mail slot, stealing Lucy's dress, listening to Lucy and Neil's conversations through the shared wall of their duplex—escalates from childish to, finally, criminal, in a shocking series of actions. Interspersed throughout are glimpses of Annie's past, her troubled marriage and stilted feelings toward her infant daughter, Grace. The beautiful, provocative prose and dangerous, quirky protagonist mark Ashworth as a writer to watch. (June)