Monday, 6 June 2011

The Collector

Title: The Collector

Author: John Fowles

Number of pages: 284

Started: 2 June 2011

Finished: 6 June 2011

Opening words:

WHEN she was home from her boarding-school I used to see her almost every day sometimes, because their house was right opposite the Town Hall Annexe. She and her younger sister used to go in and out a lot, often with young men, which of course I didn’t like. When I had a free moment from the files and ledgers I stood by the window and used to look down over the road over the frosting and sometimes I’d see her. In the evening I marked it in my observations diary, at first with X, and then when I knew her name with M. I saw her several times outside too. I stood right behind her once in a queue at the public library down Crossfield Street. She didn’t look once at me, but I watched the back of her head and her hair in a long pigtail. It was very pale, silky, like Burnet cocoons. All in one pigtail coming down almost to her waist, sometimes in front, sometimes at the back. Sometimes she wore it up. Only once, before she came to be my guest here, did I have the privilege to see her with it loose, and it took my breath away it was so beautiful, like a mermaid.

Read the whole book here.

Plot summary:

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs.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 understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

What I thought:

This was a very readable book. I had to read a John Fowles book at school – the French Lieutenant’s Woman – and this did not endear him to me. This is not necessarily a reflection on that book, and might simply be that I hated reading set texts at school. However, this book was much better than expected. It was a tale of a man who wins the pools and then takes captive a young woman he has been fixated with.

It was a good read and it was, at times, difficult to know how to feel about the characters because there was no sense in which I felt it was ok to kidnap someone, but he had a sad and mixed up life and from that perspective I felt for him. This book precedes more recent takes on this type of book, such as Room, and I think is well worth a read if you want to read a light, and yet serious take on this theme.


Sarah said...

Have you read Room? I haven't and don't intend to, no matter how many people tell me that it is wonderful. (Yes, I've accessed my inner stubborn streak!)

The Collector, on the other hand, sounds much more engaging. I wasn't sure which John Fowles to go with, but I fancy reading this now... Thank you! :)

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - I read Room as part of the Booker shortlist. It was fine, but I found it kind of irritating. Some of my colleagues read it though and loved it. there's no accounting for taste.

I found John Fowles far more accessible than I expected him to be and am thinking of The Magus as my next read of his.

rohit said...

An enjoyable read The Collector John Fowles . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.

Random Reflections said...

Rohit - Thanks for your comment. I thought it was a simple read with some underlying (and overt) darkness. I would recommend reading it.

Thanks for stopping by.