Ally is fifty-four when her husband leaves her. Her best friend and her daughter – neither of whom she has ever really talked to before – are each thousands of miles away. She descends rapidly into an undignified breakdown. Retreating from everyone and everything, she grows increasingly fat and fearful. Ally has never been terribly confident in her own identity (‘People tend to look past her, rather than at her. Shop assistants tend to give her bored glazed looks and a sharp “What?”’) and now, unloved and unneeded, she is threatened with disintegration. The woman in the mirror is a stranger, she imagines herself as a white grub that she can make vanish by closing her eyes.