‘She opens the door and takes the final step.’ With this arresting sentence we enter the world of Lynn Zapatek, who is on her way out of a psychiatric clinic, and from then on we follow her bizarre behavioural life, seeing everything through her eyes. We watch as, employed as a chambermaid at the Hotel Eden, she throws herself into her work, until her enthusiasm for cleaning becomes an obsession. At first, in the guests’ rooms, she merely inspects their belongings and speculates about their lives, but when, on one occasion, the occupant returns unexpectedly, she hides under the bed, listening to what goes on. This continues – a new part of her routine – until a particularly violent sex scene occurs and Chiara, the female participant, leaves a card and a telephone number which Lynn follows up. Visiting Chiara to receive her sexual and other attentions is just one further addition to her psychotic weekly schedule.
Why does Lynn clean obsessively? What has happened to alienate her from her mother? Why is she so damaged? Her repetitious, automatised behaviour could be seen as a symptom of the modern age, but that is only part of the answer. An outstanding author’s latest triumph.