5 Mar 2011

Review: "The Collector" - Obsessions

I had actually read this book before but I didn't realise it until I had read quite far and in the end it didn't matter because I couldn't remember anything about it anyway. That is one of the very few perks of having a bad memory - you get to re-experience great books and films over and over again.

"The Collector" by John Fowles is a great novel - his debut which I find extremely impressing. The narrator Frederick, who calls himself Ferninand, is damaged at best and outright crazy at worst. He is a 25-year-old orphan who has grown up in a loveless home with this aunt and cousin but who comes into a large amount of money when he wins at pools. Frederick is obsessed with Miranda, a 20-year-old art student from North London. Miranda is obsessed as well but not with Frederick whom she hardly notices. She is obsessed with being bohemian, arty, leaving her middle-class background behind and becoming part of the world that she adores and which is symbolized for her by G.P., an libertine and artist old enough to be her father.
However, Miranda comes face to face with Frederick's obsession with her and with love when she is kidnapped by him and imprisoned in his basement somewhere in the English countryside.

As the days go by Miranda and her captor circle each other in little power games where Miranda always has the upper hand except for the fact that Frederick literally has the key to her freedom and denies her the use of it.
What does Frederick/Ferdinand want from Miranda? She wonders and the reader wonders as well. I think Frederik himself wonders. He collects butterflies and Miranda is the triumph in his collection. He doesn't want anything from her except to have her.

It is a fascinating read because both Miranda and Frederick call for pity even though both of them are really quite annoying and caught up in their own webs of self-deceit. The story is more reminiscent of the plot in Lucy Christopher's "Stolen" which is like a YA version of "The Collector" than of "Room" by Emma Donoghue. However, all three books deal with the same topic, kidnapping, in a way that is worth reading.

"The Collector" is great. It is a piece of classic literary fiction and it deserves your attention.


  1. Oh, sounds exciting, have to read some Fowles! Heh, how interesting that you got to read this book twice for the first time! :)

  2. This sounds so interesting- thanks for the review & introduction to an intriguing new book.

  3. Oo, sounds interesting! I always get John Fowles mixed up with John Harwood and thus have never read any of his books -- sounds like this is a good place to start. :)

  4. I've not heard of this one but it sounds really interesting. I've put it on my wishlist :)

  5. Great to hear that you all like the sound of it, it is really good.

    Jenny, I don't know Harwood but will check him out :-)

  6. This is new to me and I will take your advice and check it out. Thanks for the great review and recommendation :)

  7. You are welcome jenny :-)

  8. 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.