Title: The Book of You
Author: Claire Kendal
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication date: 10 April 2014
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: Personal Collection
Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.
Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.
Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined.
Clarissa Bourne is a thirty-eight year old woman, living in fear of a man she had the complete misfortune to meet; her co-worker Rafe who is completely obsessed with her and everything about her. The Book of You is a tense, gripping novel which plunges the reader into uncomfortable levels of stalking. This book is bleak and not for the faint-hearted as we’re shown the ways and means in which Clarissa copes (or doesn’t) with the advances of her stalker and how he becomes more and more desperate to win her affections or simply steal her attention away from her every-day life.
And right now Clarissas every day life involves sitting on a long winded jury case; involving the uncomfortable topics of drug abuse and rape – seeing her own life reflected in that of the victim in the court case she is judging. Relief only seeming to come from her fellow juror, and their blossoming friendship, which also gives the reader a moment to breathe a sigh of relief for her. Only to be haunted once again when the next chapter starts and the point of view switches.
The novel is presented in a mixture of First and Third person; The Book of You is a journal in which Clarissa is documenting the extreme events that Rafe Solmes goes to in order to dominate and ‘win over’ Clarissa. We are treated to rich the descriptions of a failed PhD student who majored in Creative Writing, so it’s not unbelievable that Clarissa uses wonderful descriptions to document not only her stalkers actions but her reactions and thoughts on what he is doing to her and subjecting her too. At one point I felt the hairs on my neck jump up as I thought of the possibility that Rafe could be writing a journal of his own and this is what we’re seeing when the point of view is switched away from Clarissa’s first – as a character, Rafe gets under the readers skin that much at times I had to put my Kobo down, just to check there wasn’t someone looking in through the window or looming over my shoulder ready to pounce.
The book does have a bit of a lull in the middle before Rafes desperation escalated to the ‘next level’ and his deeds become even more depraved and I was left wondering how long Clarissa could and would put up with her stalkers unwanted attentions before seeking outside help and because of the lull in action it feels a little contrived and unrealistic, despite being given the reasons for her not seeking help.
I don’t want to say too much about the last chapter, but there is a tragic twist thrown in that feels a little bit hollow; comparing Clarissas own story to the classic fairy-tales that are referenced throughout the story – due to this being the topic of interest for Clarissa’s scraped PhD. And, if you know your classic fairy-tales there is rarely a happy ending. And it’s true for The Book of You; this isn’t your Disney, family friendly adaptation. The Book of You takes the reader to some very dark places that you need to be cautious of, if you’re not prepared for them.
Overall, a very gripping novel that I enjoyed very much and surprised myself how quickly I managed to get through the pages.