I really didn’t expect to enjoy The Collector as much as I did. The thriller genre has always been a favourite of mine, but I found this one a very interesting read. I loved how we get the voice of the villain, we can hear what he has to say, his perspective. It was disturbing and strange, but I really enjoyed the suspense of learning what he is going to do next. Clegg is described brilliantly and you almost feel sorry for him, even though he is a killer. I read this book as part of my Gothic Narrative course, but it has definitely made it into the top 10 of all time favourites! 100% recommend!! I used this book for my final assignment in this module, comparing it to the infamous Dracula.
John Fowles is known for his ‘exceptional imaginative power’. He is known for his thrilling, suspense filled, ‘sickening’ writing. This is the first novel I have read of his, but all the others soon arrived on my reading list. I love how the narrator is the villain himself, it takes on a different roll where we have emotive feelings towards him. We also get a narratorial section/ diary entry for the victim, Miranda. He section is squeezed into the middle of both Cleggs narration which creates the illusion of a trapped woman. He does trap her, after stalking her for years. She remains locked in the basement until she dies from pneumonia. ‘I took the photos that evening. Just ordinary, of her sitting reading. They came out quite well.’ The novel constantly plays on the innocent tone contradicting with his evil/vile thoughts. He is a collector, he collects and preserves butterflies before moving on to collect women, ‘now you’ve collected me’.
I think the audience intended for this piece were definitely gothic, thriller, suspense fiction lovers. It has the urgency of suspense, yet you have the thrilling narrative and chilling character. I think it definitely draws the right audience in, as I was hooked from the first few pages… something I look for in a book- if I don’t like the first few pages/chapters, there is a chance I won’t like the rest of the book. Which is why it took me so long to read Jane Eyre, and why I am not so passionate about Thomas Hardy.
I would rate this book a 8-10, at times it could be more thrilling, but the uknown, uncanniness about the character drives the narrative. You are open to the possibilities of Miranda actually falling in love with him or maybe the chance that he lets her go. We are aiming for that, but we know deep down that he is deluded and she is going to end up dead, despite his innocent tone. The end leaves us on the edge, he has found someone else to prey on- but we are not sure if he actually goes through with it. He acts the same way he did when he stalked Miranda, suggesting it is going to happen again- adding to the ‘collector’ character. This is a very different novel, not just because of the narrative, but because of the tone and calmness of the main character. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, but be prepared it can get quite sickening!