The prose in Glasgow writer Kennedy's wrenching first U.S. publication both mesmerizes with its musicality and startles with the frankness of its sexual detail. Glasgow matron Helen Brindle's search for someone ""who would tell her what was wrong and how to right it"" bats her back and forth between an abusive husband and Edward E. Gluck, a sex-obsessed self-help guru whom she first sees on a late-night TV program about masturbation. When Helen flies to Stuttgart where Gluck is lecturing on his patented ""Process"" for self-improvement, romance blossoms between them. But Helen's discovery of Gluck's weakness for a particularly repulsive form of pornography spooks her into returning to Mr. Brindle. In her terrifying world, pious Helen has only God to hold on to through bouts of stomach-turning abuse and compromised love. As Kennedy charts Helen's course and her flights from Brindle to Gluck and back again, the narrative is relentless and often grim. Relief comes to the reader at the story's end, when Helen's intense religous faith is justified. Not for the faint of heart, or for those made wary by liberal use of the G-word, this novel manages to address its characters' deep pathos brazenly, and without apology. (Jan.) FYI: Kennedy was named as one of the 20 best new British writers by Granta in 1993.