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.