Richard and Judy Review: The Book of You – Claire Kendal

Richard and Judy Review: The Book of You – Claire Kendal

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“As Clarissa’s nightmare with Rafe deepens, she becomes attracted to one of her fellow-jurors. Robert is a fire-fighter, friendly, strong and steady.”

Richard’s review

This is an uncomfortable book for a man to read it’s a truly compelling page-turner. As Clarissa’s nightmare with Rafe deepens, she becomes attracted to one of her fellow-jurors. Robert is a fire-fighter, friendly, strong and steady. He’s a widower and Clarissa begins to see him as her salvation. She thinks that he is going to rescue her – but in the end, he lets her down. Like every other man in her life. (You see what I mean when I say this makes for disconcerting reading for us males).

Rafe, it emerges, has done this before. No-one knows if his previous victim is dead (Rafe’s idea of sex is violent and extremely dangerous) or has simply disappeared for her own safety. He is twisted, domineering, and inescapable. He sends Clarissa menacing gifts and appears everywhere she goes.

There’s a lot of the fairy tale princess in Clarissa. She sews beautifully, making her own clothes (shades of Sleeping Beauty at her spinning-wheel). She is oddly powerless, having abandoned her own academic career. She’s a child-woman, really, the only child of over-protective parents. She longs for domesticity and motherhood but cannot find it in an increasingly dark and threatening world.

Clarissa thinks her friend and fellow-juror, Robert, is the prince who will rescue her from Rafe’s evil spell – but alas he cannot and will not.

This book is addictive. It is also very clever and extremely disturbing – a frightening read for a winter weekend.

“Clarissa works at Bath University; when the novel begins, she has just been dumped by Henry, a professor who left his wife for Clarissa, who had tried unsuccessfully so have a baby with him.”

Judy’s review

This chilling story reads like a dark, Grimm’s fairy tale for our times. Clarissa works at Bath University; when the novel begins, she has just been dumped by Henry, a professor who left his wife for Clarissa, who had tried unsuccessfully so have a baby with him. But the fertility treatments failed and Henry has left her for a coveted post at Cambridge University.

So we discover Clarissa, almost 40, single, childless and heartbroken. She is also very lonely; because she broke up Henry’s marriage, former women friends shun her. The stage is set for a frightening tale of stalking and sexual obsession, with Clarissa at the centre, increasingly scared, vulnerable and trapped.

Her stalker is Rafe, an academic at Bath. He is obsessed with Clarissa and jealous of Henry’s success. Rafe’s special interest is fairy tales and he tells Clarissa about their gory, dark true meanings. She is trapped as if in a fable, living in an increasingly twisted reality.

Rafe drugs and traps her into a one-night stand. Afterwards he won’t leave her alone. Clarissa blames herself for sleeping with him. Suspecting he spiked her wine, but with no evidence, she begins to keep a diary of his strange behaviour, hoping it will convince the police to act.

Meanwhile she is called for jury service in a criminal case in which a woman (a drug-addicted prostitute) is kidnapped, raped, and beaten – a strange analogy to what seems to be happening to Clarissa herself.

This is a very dark story. It reads like a fable in which Clarissa is trapped inside an evil forest. Violent sexual perversion surrounds her both in court and in her own life. Rafe closes in on her while she is rendered strangely passive and utterly helpless.

Press reviews

Here are a selection of the reviews for The Book of You

“Both brutal and unbearably tense, THE BOOK OF YOU announces the arrival of a fierce new talent, a writer not afraid to grasp a woman’s fears in stark detail and to invoke nightmares”

Daily Mail

“Gripping with some very smart twists”

Woman Magazine

“A gripping read!”

Closer