Frederick Clegg has recently come into a lot of money. Left with nothing else he wants to spend said money on, he decides to buy a house in a remote location and kidnap a girl he’s been stalking and keep her there. His hope is she, Miranda, will get to know him and then fall in love with him. Need I even say that doesn’t happen?
This book has been making the rounds over the last, few months. I’d noticed a lot of reviews for it, and upon hearing the premise, it sounded like a book I’d love. Well, it was. This is a very character-driven novel that’s less about kidnapping and more about social classes in the UK at the time as well as general power struggles between those classes. And power struggles between men and women, it has to be said. Fowles’ intentions for the book are so blatant he basically hits you over the head with it, but even with the lack of subtlety, I loved how it was done.
Fred is from a lesser class who isn’t very educated and has little use for creativity. He’s a bore and a boar all at once. Miranda is an art student who wants to embrace all that is meaningful to the extreme of arrogance and pretension. And they clash. Oh, do they clash. And it’s marvelous, because so much of it is mental and emotional and petty. There are some moments that show Fred for the barely restrained monster that he is, but most of the hostility between them is shown via arguments, and the dialogue is very strong.
It’s a dark book with a sinister tone and a lot to say. It’s fantastic to see an author writing a literary novel and using a thriller as his vehicle. It makes the story simultaneously profound and entertaining, and that is such a delicate balance that Fowles achieves. I think this book could be a great gateway into contemporary and literary books for many readers. It’s fast-paced and accessible, and the tension demands you keep reading to find out what happens. I can’t gush about it enough.