Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs.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.
According to the fountain of all dubious knowledge AKA Wikipedia, this book has been claimed by some serial killers, kidnappers and other delightful people to be the inspiration for their crimes.
Which I did not know before reading the book, but which makes perfect sense to me, in the way that the male MC continues to justify and explain away his actions to make them seem perfectly understandable and reasonable, even though he’s kidnapped a girl and kept her locked up in a cellar because he loves her.
This tale is almost told on two levels – one, the actual kidnapping of Miranda and her ordeal in the cellar, and on a second level, a discussion of class difference that takes place between them, whereby Miranda comes across as pretentious and the kidnapper, Frederick, becomes a sympathetic character.
“I hate the uneducated and the ignorant. I hate the pompous and the phoney. I hate the jealous and the resentful. I hate the crabbed and mean and the petty. I hate all ordinary dull little people who aren’t ashamed of being dull and little.”
Despite Miranda’s character failings, this is obviously no justification for ABDUCTING HER AND KEEPING HER LOCKED UP IN A CELLAR. Frederick is utterly creepy in his calm, rational manner, and the book ends on a highly disturbing note. A compulsively readable thriller.