Originally published: Jan 2019 (ebook); 25 Jul 2019 (paperback)
Author: Laura Sims
Published by: Tinder Press
Length: 208 pages
Reading dates: 15-16 July 2019
“I’m grateful they’ve never thought to install blinds.
That’s how confident they are.
No one would dare stand in front of our house and watch us, they think.
And they’ve probably right: except for me.”
At just under 200 pages long, this was a very quick read, especially as there are no chapters, just short chunks of text which made me want to keep reading way past my bed time!
Told from the point of view of a woman in her 30s known only as The Professor it is an engaging 1st party narrative. The Professor we learn is newly separated from her husband after several rounds of IVF have helped contribute to the demise of their marriage. Left only with her ex-husbands cat (called Cat) who she tolerates, she lives in a run-down building in Brooklyn, working in a job that she doesn’t enjoy. She is broken and lonely. Her obsession for a famous actress who lives across the road with her perfect husband and perfect children is the centre of this story.
She watches the house all the time. She takes all of the things The Actress leaves out for charity and sets up a shrine of sorts with them in her spare room. She has sexual fantasies about the husband and generally devotes her life to watching and thinking about her, even choosing similar clothes and lipstick in an effort to become like her.
When an interaction with The Actress at the neighbourhood block party doesn’t go as The Professor hopes it will, what has begun as a largely innocent preoccupation, spirals quickly into madness, as she looses her grip on reality.
A dark and disturbing read but nevertheless hugely compelling, I thought this was fantastic! The character of The Professor is well developed and I felt I was witnessing first hand her unravelling as she becomes more obsessed with The Actress as her own life falls apart. Not an easy read by any means, it made me feel unsettled but I think it will stay with me for a long time and I will certainly be recommending it to anyone who will listen!
Many thanks to Becky at Headline for my proof copy.
About the author:
Laura Sims is the author of LOOKER, a debut novel. She has also published four books of poetry, including Staying Alive, and is the editor of Fare Forward: Letters from David Markson. She lives outside of New York City with her family.