Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs.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 in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.
This isn't a book that I would say that I "liked" as, after all, it is about a man who kidnaps a woman and holds her prisoner in his basement. But it was incredibly compelling and I really felt that the author got inside Frederick's head. I found this book incredibly interesting to read in light of all the kidnapping/abduction stories that have been cropping up over the past few years. Despite being published in the 1960s, I doubt the mind of a kidnapper has changed very much since then. Fowles is either a very creative or very disturbed man to have been able to write from Frederick's perspective as I wouldn't have doubted for a moment that the protagonist was capable of such acts. As for Miranda, I was surprised by how unsympathetic I felt towards her initially. She was incredibly pretentious and, despite what she expressed in her diary, rather stuck-up. She was so focused on not being middle-class and suburban that her actions caused her to cement herself into this class of people! I wasn't too interested in her back-story to begin with but it grew on me, and by the end of her section I was hoping that events wouldn't take such a tragic turn... But the ending is inevitable, I suppose. I didn't expect it, but thinking about it, there really was no other option. And there was a nice twist at the end - or was that obvious too? Overall, a fascinating study of human nature. My only complaints would be that Miranda was hard to relate to and therefore I found it difficult to care about her plight, and that I actually had nightmares the night after I started reading this! So perhaps not for people who are overly sensitive. 8/10