"Kennedy is a world class writer."--The New York Times Book Review
A brilliant American debut from one of Scotland's most acclaimed writers, named by Granta as one of the Twenty Best Young British Novelists.
Emotionally numb, crippled with insomnia, and caught in a frightening, abusive marriage, Helen Brindle believes that God has recently left her. She spends her days performing banal domestic chores in front of a blaring television. On the BBC one day she watches a self-help guru expound on, among other things, the "rules" of masturbation and the importance of "interior lives." Edward G. Gluck, she discovers has developed a program that guides lost souls toward contentment. Helen seeks him out, hoping to find an answer. Instead she discovers Gluck's own sadomasochistic obsession, and his profound shame and disgust. And what they both encounter, painfully, is the love each fears and both yearn to embrace.
"A darkly comic tale.... [that] is hilariously funny about sexual obsession and brilliantly perceptive about the dynamics of human relationships."--The Baltimore Sun
"Kennedy explores the dark byways and cul-de-sacs of love. She turns her clear, clever prose unflinchingly on jealousy, perversion and tangled desire. But she is as sympathetic as she is sharp in her observations and profound in her thinking" -- Kit Spring * Observer * "Kennedy's great gift throughout for amused honesty, the clear-eyed dissection of sexual and emotional hang-ups...gives the book its rare cargo of resonance... It sparkles with beautiful observation" -- Steven Poole * Independent on Sunday * "A revelation. It's the best piece of writing A. L. Kennedy has yet done" -- Jenny Turner * Independent * "The supremely original writer among a gifted generation of young British fiction talents" -- Tom Adair * Scotland on Sunday * "A delight... Subtle, erotic, ambitious and accomplished" * New Statesman *