The Collector, John Fowles: Book Review

A dark story which will make you feel uncomfortable, but so interesting you can’t put it down. Get your analysing hats on for The Collector by John Fowles.

The plot:

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs.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.

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.

As a reader, the story made me feel uncomfortable

I picked up this book because someone said it was their most horrifying read, and I’m not sure why that attracts me, but we’ll just go with it.

The Collector is a very dark book, not necessarily through the content (it’s much more toned down than I expected), but moreover for the tone of voices and how it ended.

As a reader, the story made me feel uncomfortable; like you’re in the room with the characters and getting both perspectives, but not wanting to be there, but also not wanting to look away.

There are lots of themes in this book, and 16-year-old me just went crazy analysing everything; my English teacher would’ve been so proud. One of the main themes is class, and that really comes across through the writing style. There are four parts, with the main 2 being from Frederick and Miranda’s perspective and the writing is very different.

There’s one part where Miranda refers Frederick to the likeness of Caliban (from Shakespeare’s The Tempest), but then I got the impression she slightly related to Caliban too, and being slightly manipulative and cruel.

The story itself is very simple, but there are so many different layers and themes that I can understand why it is rated so highly. It scared me a little, and I really wouldn’t recommend this for those aged under 18. For me, it was the way he acted and thought about things which really hit hard, as I’ve not read a book like it.

When I finished, I had to contemplate for a while, and didn’t actually pick up another book for a whole 24 hours (very strange for me). It’s not too violent, but focuses more on the mental health side, when you really look deeply into the book.

The Collector was an intriguing read and I was excited to see what was going to happen and not disappointed by anything in the book – the writing makes it a classic, from my point of view. It just makes for a tough read because of the kidnapping aspect, so be prepared for that.

I’m definitely going to re-read this soon.

The Collector, John Fowles, RRP £8.99 (paperback); Book Depository 

Pages: 283

Publisher: Vintage Classics, Penguin Random House

Genre: Classic / Fiction

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