Book Review: The Collector by John Fowles
February 24, 2012 21 Comments
This book had been on my wishlist for a while and it was chosen randomly in the challenge I participated in at Shelfari.com. So, I got this book from the library to read it for the challenge. Not long before, I had read Room by Emma Donoghue, another story in which a young woman is held captive by a man.
The Collector: What it is about
Frederick is in his twenties when he wins a lot of money in the lottery. He grew up with his aunt, uncle and his disabled niece Mabel. He’s a lonely town clerk who collects butterflies in his spare time.
He becomes obsessed with a girl called Miranda from the local art college, and he buys a house in the countryside in an isolated location. The house also has a cellar. When he gets the chance, he kidnaps Miranda and puts her in the well-prepared cellar. There she has all the comforts such a situation can give and he treats her respectfully, hoping she will start to love him after a while.
Miranda keeps a diary, and the second part of the book is formed by her diary entries. We find out she has been obsessed with a much older artist, G. P., who she had an affair with.
In the final part of the book, we find out what eventually happens to Miranda and Frederick.
The Collector: What I thought
4 out of 5 stars
This was a creepy book, especially because Frederick was being very respectful and good to Miranda. The only thing he did wrong, really, was imprisoning her. He didn’t seem to think that was wrong, as long as he treated her well. In a way, she was like the butterflies he collected: he kept them (pinned) in organised drawers and could look at them when he wanted to. Miranda was another item he collected for his enjoyment.
I didn’t like the middle part of the book so much, as Miranda’s relationship with the artist didn’t interest me much. There were some philosophical reflections that I also found less interesting. They may have fitted better in another context, but I was eager to know what would happen to Miranda in her current situation.
There is also the notion of class being discussed. Frederick is working class, Miranda is middle-class. Therefore, Frederick feels inferior to Miranda while she looks down on his use of language and his old-fashioned ways. This book is from 1963 when class differences in England were larger than now.
Overall, this was a scary story because Frederick had a very odd idea about what was right or wrong. He didn’t see anything wrong in keeping Miranda imprisoned and it wasn’t clear for a long time how this story would end.
I read this in: Dutch (De verzamelaar), the original language is English
Number of pages: 272
First published: 1963
Genre: classic, thriller