The Collector | John Fowles


fiction  |  classic  |  thriller

First published 1963

The book The Collector by John Fowles lies on a piece of dark grey cotton.

Frederick Clegg is a loner who collects butterflies. He loves rare breeds and is obsessed with owning as many as possible. When he catches sight of art student Miranda Grey, he decides he must possess her too.


A lucky and very large win at the football pools allows Clegg to plan Miranda's kidnapping to perfection. He buys a large house in a small village and equips the basement with everything Miranda will need.

He makes sure that no one from the village will ever bother him or get suspicious, that he and Miranda will be completeley alone, and then one evening he knocks Miranda out with Chloroform, drags her into his waitng car, drives her to his house and puts her in the cellar.

The first part of the book is told from Clegg's point of view. He describes every step he takes and we're given a glimpse into the mind of a man who, before our eyes, is tranformed from a butterfly collector into something much worse and much more sinister. He is the perfect psychopath, convinced that he is MIranda's host, not her captor, that she is his guest, not his victim. He's given her everything she'll ever need and he can't understand why she's ungrateful  and wants to leave.

Then we're given Miranda's version of events told to us through diary entries. She is young, middle class, spoilt and childish. She reminiscences about art college, her friends and family and her relationship with a man known only as G.P. She misses her freedom terribly, dreaming and plotting various ways to escape. All are in vain.

My Verdict: This is a very typically English book (I'm allowed to say that, I'm British!). Everything is very polite, classs plays a huge role in the way these two characters interact with each other, and the damp, claustrophobic feeling permeates the pages. Reading this book took me back to university where I studied writers like John Braine, John Osborne and Shelagh Delaney. It's incredibly creepy and makes you really appreciate fresh air and the great outdoors. This was John Fowles' debut novel and it really is a masterpiece. 

Review Award | 4/5

Posted 11.04.2023

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