Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Book of You - Claire Kendal




'It is you. Of course it is you. Always it is you.'

Clarissa is being stalked by Rafe. He appears all the time, wherever she is, at her home, when she is out, in the park, everywhere, his menacing, unwanted presence is there. No matter how clearly she tells him to leave her alone, to go away, or even when she tries to just ignore him completely, to not give him the satisfaction of any response, he does not stop, he is determined she will give in to him, and that he can control her. She avoids him as much as she possibly can, but they share the same workplace, and they shared one night together, once. Then Clarissa is called for jury duty, and feels relieved because she'll be in the courtroom away from Rafe for most of the day for several weeks at least. There she gets to know some of the other jurors, including one who is kind and friendly, who she chats with and this takes her mind off events with Rafe, at least for brief periods. As she listens to the evidence in what is a violent case, things start to compare to the situation she is in. She realises what she needs to do, and she collects together the evidence of what Rafe has done. She's got her notebook, detailing all the times he has threatened, stalked, intimidated her, she keeps things he has left in her mailbox and so on, stockpiling the evidence, hoping that one day there'll be enough for it to be considered seriously by the police.

The main narrative sees Clarissa's experiences as recorded in her notebook, using the second-person. The style isn't all that common in popular fiction to my knowledge, but it is used really effectively here, like it was in Rosamund Lupton's Afterwards. It conveys with immediacy the fear she feels, the threats she endures, and the total, unwavering obsession Rafe has with her. Rafe is genuinely frightening and manipulative, utterly determined to have his way and be in control. Clarissa is an increasingly frightened victim and despite her best efforts can't seem to outmanoeuvre him. This all culminates in a dramatic finish. The other part of the narrative is in the third-person, recounting the events in the court.

It's an utterly compelling story, a brilliant, haunting read, that made my heart beat a bit faster and my pulse race. I read it on holiday and it was absolutely perfect for fast-paced, tense reading when you're in the mood to get totally lost in an absorbing story and gulp it down. The fear and anxiety felt by Clarissa is palpable, as well as her seeming very alone with this problem for the most part. 

The Book of You is a strong debut novel, a really cracking page-turner, a tense, excellent psychological suspense tale; Claire Kendal does a good job of getting you emotionally invested in what happens to Clarissa; I almost didn't dare read on at times and yet of course the story had me hooked and I didn't want to put it down until I'd finished.


Thank you to the publisher for kindly sending me a copy of this novel for an honest review.

Thank you also for sending me a beautiful notebook! 

Published by HarperCollins

11 comments:

  1. Great review Lindsay, this is an excellent read

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    1. Thanks Karen :) Yes a cracker!

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  2. Superb well written commentary Lindsay.

    I cannot imagine what it would be like to be stalked in such a away. I think that I well written narrative of this type can be one of the most terrifying kinds of books because this stuff is so bad and also so common.

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    1. Thanks for your kind comment Brian. It's terrifying, and it's so vivid in this novel, scary.

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  3. A really cracking page-turner, a tense, excellent psychological suspense tale - you really don't get a better recommendation than this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Lindsay, I'll be sure to keep a look out for it.

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    1. I found it hard to put down Tracy. Thanks very much for your comment.

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  4. Great review sounds interesting finding lots of great books on-line today.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, glad you like the sound of it.

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  5. This is on my tbr love your review and can't wait to read it

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  6. What an excellent review, thanks Lindsay this one has gone to the very top of my tbr list. Love the notebook, great idea from HarperCollins! I think they should pretty them up a bit and make them available in the shops. I like the idea of my own notebook.

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  7. I need to read this. They sent so much stuff out for it, didn't they? I feel I should at least give it a go!

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