I picked this one up for the RIP challenge and it turned out to be just what I was looking for - disturbing, sinister and haunting; a book that I won't soon forget. The Collector explores the darkest of human behavior and obsessive love in a unique and compelling psychological thriller.
Ferdinand Cleff, a long-time butterfly collector and curator, is a reclusive clerk who comes into a large sum of money. After paying off relatives as a way to push them out of his life, he buys a secluded home two hours outside of London. After securing the home and fending off curious neighbors, Cleff seeks to collect his ultimate prey, a young, blonde art student who he has been watching and obsessing over for years.
There were even times I thought I would forget her. But forgetting's not something you do, it happens to you. Only it didn't happen to me.I struggled to put this book down. Fowles structures the novel in a way that grabbed me from the start. The first half of the book is told from Cleff's point of view and when I thought I would find out what would happen to his prisoner, the second half of the novel continues from Miranda's own point of view, starting with the evening she was abducted. (Yes Ferdinand and Miranda; an allusion to The Tempest.) Fowles managed to give these characters two distinct and unique voices. One of my favorite things about this novel is how Fowles made both Cleff and Miranda so unlikable that by the end, I had hoped they would just kill each other. I was always invested in the story, but as it unfolded I decided the dual characters were perfect for each other in their own messed up way. Cleff is a severely disturbed super creep and Miranda is so narcissistic and self-involved I can't help but think she deserves her misery. Each character deceives the other repeatedly, ultimately feeding their own agony.
It's despair at the lack of feeling, of love, of reason in the world. It's despair that anyone can even contemplate the idea of dropping a bomb or ordering that it should be dropped. It's despair that so few of us care. It's despair that there's so much brutality and callousness in the world. It's despair that perfectly normal young men can be made vicious and evil because they've won a lot of money. And then do what you've done to me.As far as psychological thrillers go, the ending did not disappoint. It wasn't over-the-top gruesome, but I was disturbed and intrigued all at once. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a novel that examines love, human nature and obsession at it's darkest.
This is John Fowles first novel.
Publisher: Back Bay Books, 1963