The Collector - John Fowles

I had been wanting to read The Collector even since I saw it discussed on the First Tuesday Book Club last year. It was one of those books that sat on my "must buy" TBR list but kept getting looked over in favour of something else. I finally decided to buy it recently and I have no idea why I took so long!

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Thriller
Publisher: Vinatge
Year: 1963
Rating: 4/5
Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is to understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

This book is divided into three different parts. The first is told from the point of view of Frederick, who is a typical creepy loner. Thing is, he doesn't see himself that way. Although obsessed with, and basically stalking Miranda, Frederick really believes that he is in love with her. So when he abducts her and holds her hostage in a room he had fitted out in his cellar, he feels that this is the natural thing to do. He can't understand why Miranda is afraid of him when he treats her respectfully, kindly and offers to buy her anything her heart desires. All Frederick wants is to keep Miranda with him, where he can see her every day, just like one of his framed butterflies. 

Part two is Miranda's diary which she keeps while captive. She talks about her fear of Frederick, her concern for her family and her strange relationship with her captor. She reminisces about past relationships, her life studying art and plans different ways she can try and either escape her prison or convince Frederick to let her go.

Part three is once again from Frederick's point of view and draws the book to a close with a dramatic climax and horrifying ending. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story of a man so obsessed with a woman he has seen in his town from time to time was very creepy. It really brought home the fact that you really have no idea who it watching you. The novel was also scary and suspenseful, the whole time I was reading it I was hoping that Miranda would escape or that Frederick would come to his senses and let her go. Every time she made an escape attempt I was cheering her on and was disappointed if she didn't succeed. 

Another interesting element of this novel was the theme of mental illness. The parts of the story told from Frederick's point of view showed that although he was obviously crazy, he didn't really see what he was doing was wrong and he could rationalise anything. It also explored Stockholm Syndrome and how easy it is for a person to relate to their captor. 

This is the first novel I have read by Fowles and I liked it so much that I am keen to see what his other works are like. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good thriller. It really is worth the read.
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