Published Jan 2010
Tanya is a woman of compulsions, of which cake-making is probably the most benign. However, with a past like Tanya’s, you can be forgiven a compulsion or two. To call her American family dysfunctional is being kind. An adulterous mother, an alcoholic father and a drug-addict brother (not to mention other obese siblings) have driven Tanya to leave Massachusetts for London. There she has managed to escape their clutches (and pay their rehab bills) by becoming a work and sex addict. But she can’t hide in the office forever. When the mysteriously beautiful and crazed Eleanor takes the spare room in her Islington house, Tanya replaces work with a new compulsion, and discovers someone whose damaged childhood is distinctly more dangerous than her own.
Scouringly witty, linguistically delightful and wonderfully black, this brilliant portrait of the dark side of America is a worthy successor to Newman’s The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.