The Collector by John Fowles

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I was given this book from a friend and am so grateful for it (because books are the way to my heart, honestly).

With that being said, let me just say that I tried to like this book. I really did. But I could not bring myself to truly enjoy the book despite its content.

I’ve read macabre books (such as Strings) before so I’m no stranger to psychological horror. (Side note: Possible review for Strings coming soon since it really shook me).

The Collector started off slow but really picked up pace about a chapter in and I didn’t want to put it down. The narrator, Frederick Clegg, was clearly not just unreliable but a madman and a stalker to boot. Reading about his descent into further madness & eventual kidnapping of Miranda was shocking but still kept me turning the pages. Said unreliability was shown where he was so adamant that he would never assault her yet he took what he claimed to be “artsy” photographs of her. There was never any outright brutality (thank goodness) but it was heavily implied. I was rooting for Miranda to knock Clegg unconscious and escape somehow, especially in the first half.

The 2nd half was where the book lost me and I really struggled to continue reading.
While I felt a lot of pity for the character of Miranda, the writing style that Fowles switched to halfway through was both confusing and an outright struggle to read. I’m normally a speed-reader but the lack of proper quotations had me re-reading portions a few times just to understand who said what.

*Spoilers Ahead*

While I did sympathize with Miranda, I didn’t like her character at all. She was arrogant, selfish, and constantly patronized anyone she crossed paths with. (Needless to say, Clegg deserved any and all attitude and fighting he received from Miranda. I also liked her strength in that she didn’t give him the satisfaction of calling him by his name but referred to him as Caliban instead. And his utter mediocrity and banality were referred to as “calibanity” to further insult him).
I did feel a bit of pity for her in terms of her on and off again lover, G.P. He reflected her own arrogance in that he would constantly serve to remind her that he was so much more ~world-weary~ only because he was considerably older than her. They almost seemed like a good fit in that sense.
But, again, the writing and her annoying tone-of-voice completely threw me off.

The one redeeming factor was the tiny last portion where it switched the narrator back to Clegg. It sucked me in once again, and the tension and uncomfortable environment created when he chickened out of bringing a doctor to Miranda was almost palpable.

One would think that he felt an iota of guilt over being the reason that Miranda died (which was painful to read) but once he read her secret diary, he felt nothing which proved exactly how unstable he was. The last sentence where he begins plotting another kidnapping had my mouth just drop open. I didn’t expect that at all.
*End of Spoilers*

I would have to ultimately give this book a 2 out of 5 stars. Had it strictly been in Clegg’s perspective, this could have possibly received a higher rating. But the frustration and annoyance while reading the 2nd half was just not worth it. Even if you are into psychological thrillers, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this. A real life thriller I would recommend is Who Killed My Daughter by Lois Duncan. It’s tragic, heartbreaking reading about Lois’ loss, and will keep you guessing beyond the last page as to who did it.

 

Much Love and Literature,

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