The Collector by John Fowles

I feel like, in a few years, this novel will be subject to a media frenzy at the prospect of a ‘rediscovered classic’, in a similar fashion to John Williams’ Stoner. I’m not objecting, because this is surprisingly beautiful, both in plot and prose.

Running with my current trend of buying books because they’re cheap/pretty/have a vaguely intriguing blurb, I picked up The Collector in yet another charity shop, put it back down because of The Reading List (which I’m now slightly panicking about, because no time! no time!), and picked it back up because of my fear of The Reading List. Find the logic in that.

I’ve read my fair share of kidnapping books, with the kidnapper’s motivations usually circulating around money/sex/opportunity for bloody murder. Unusually, the reason why Frederick/Ferdinand/Caliban kidnaps Miranda is because he is besotted with her. As in, moves-to-London-and-follows-her obsessed. Because she is beautiful.

She’s more than beautiful; she is passionate and caring and deeply artistic, the type of person who experiences, rather than lives. Like Ferdinand, I was drawn to her because of her beauty, although not her exterior beauty, and the tragedy of such a free spirit being trapped in a cellar – what she longs for is daylight, the only thing that Ferdinand refuses her – is felt searingly by both the reader and Miranda herself. She undergoes the same fate as his butterflies. Suffocated under glass.

This has, I think, become one of my favourite books of 2016. It was the plot that drew me in initially, but when I realised that I share similar views to Miranda, like this one:

I hate the uneducated and the ignorant. I hate the pompous and the phoney. I hate the jealous and the resentful. I hate the crabbed and the mean and the petty. I hate all ordinary dull little people who aren’t ashamed of being dull and little.

I became even more invested in her. In her life and her potential and the fact that she is kept captive by an ordinary dull little man, who unfortunately has enough money to realise his disturbing dream.

I don’t think that I can recommend this strongly enough. This isn’t an airport, drop-it-and-run read. It’s haunting. It can be painful to read, but the beauty is there, and there are no more words.

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4 thoughts on “The Collector by John Fowles

  1. Read it in early July!
    It was so compelling that I finished it very quickly – the fact that it reads as a diary helps, I guess.
    The book is so well written. I like how, when reading from the kidnapper’s perspective, we feel how sick he is. It is clear that he is not in love or humane, even if at some point it might seem so, because he revels in possessing and admiring his latest ‘butterfly’. The ending pages of the book did send chills down my spine, because we see how utterly sick he is.

    The dual interpretation of same events also lends strength to the book.
    And, I think it can be one of my favourite books this year also.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, this was definitely one of my favourite reads so far this year. With many kidnapping-type books, we only get one person’s perspective, so I enjoyed The Collector because of the dual POVs. I’m looking forward to reading more of John Fowles’ work, as this novel was startlingly good. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

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