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Forgetting Zoe [Paperback]

Ray Robinson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

3 Jun 2010

Zoë Nielsen was just like any other ten-year-old walking to school, not knowing that a chance encounter with Thurman Hayes would lead to her abduction and imprisonment in a converted nuclear bunker beneath a remote Arizona ranch house.

Back home, 4,000 miles away on an island off the coast of Newfoundland, the press coverage surrounding Zoe's mother, Ingrid, is rapidly turning sour. Even the arrest of a suspect and Ingrid's newly established relationship with Zoë's father isn't enough to stop the nightmare from which there is no waking

Enslaved in her underground tomb, deprived of food and light and water, the girl Zoe once was steadily begins to disappear. Allowed to see and hear only what Thurman permits, she lives in a world that is all about his needs and wants being met...

But over time Thurman will grow tired of the rapidly maturing Zoë. And when he decides it is time to get rid of her, Zoë must finally make her bid for freedom.

Forgetting Zoë is a moving, epic tale of courage, survival, horror and loss, that explores how a bond of affection and intimacy can develop between captive and captor.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (3 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 043402032X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434020324
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 912,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robinson first won attention in 2006 with his debut novel, Electricity (Picador, 2006). It was shortlisted for both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Authors' Club First Novel Award.

Electricity was filmed by Stone City Films in 2013, starring Agyness Deyn as Lily, and will be released in cinemas in 2014.

Robinson's other novels are The Man Without (Picador, 2008), Forgetting Zoe (Heinemann, 2010), and Jawbone Lake (Heinemann, 2014).

Forgetting Zoe was selected for the inaugural Fiction Uncovered promotion and was the Observer's 'Thriller of the Month'. Robinson was hailed as 'among the most impressive voices of Britain's younger generation' by the Irish Times.

Robinson is a post-graduate of Lancaster University, where he was awarded a Ph.D. in Creative Writing in 2006, and is a Literary Mentor and Reader for The Literary Consultancy.

He has appeared at literary festivals around the world, including La Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara, Mexico, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Product Description


"I read Forgetting Zoë with great pleasure, admiration, and envy. What a writer. The characters are so sharply drawn they're etched into the page. It's admirable the way that Ray describes with equal intensity two such different landscapes. He's using language like thick oil paint; you read and are inside the world being described. Captivating. A great storytelling achievement." (Tim Pears)

"A convincing portrait of how childhood brutality is passed down the generations...Direct in its depiction of abuse, Forgetting Zoë is never less than psychologically acute." (Financial Times)


Stockholm syndrome is a curious but understandable condition, intelligently and vividly explored by Ray Robinson...It is a measure of Ray Robinson's own sympathetic imagination that he makes Thurman credible as a human being and not merely a monster...He shows with great skill how Zoë becomes emotionally dependent on him...The action moves between Arizona and the Canadian island, and the atmosphere of both places is very well conveyed...Ray Robinson is a writer with keen observation. His prose is hard, abrupt and sinewy. He abstains from judgment, content to present his characters in action, though also ready to enter into their minds. The novel is a study of obsession, but also of the inadequacy of obsession...It's a novel that starts as an ugly and nasty story but ends up by being moving and even tender. This is partly because Robinson shows us goodness co-existing with evil and outfacing it...It is a novel that contains violence but also stillness, that reveals more than it makes explicit...A mature and accomplished work.

" (Allan Massie The Scotsman)

"Well executed." (The Times)

"Very provocative...Powerfully done." (Tom Sutcliffe Saturday Review, Radio 4)

Book Description

Intensely moving novel following ten-year-old Zoe's kidnap, captivity and escape eight years later.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indelible Memories 27 Jun 2010
I read my first Ray Robinson novel, 'The Man Without' early last year, and have been eagerly awaiting 'Forgetting Zoe' on the strength of it. Glad to say I've not been disappointed!

'Forgetting Zoe' is a novel that confronts the seedier, more twisted aspects of human nature, focusing on the abduction of the young Zoe by Thurman Hayes, a psychologically damaged man whose inferiority complex drives him to the extreme lengths we see in this book.

But the novel isn't solely 'about' the abduction: the novel's scope is much broader, turning its lens on the girl's absent father and guilt-stricken mother, the abductor's troubled past, and the fascinating complexities of Stockholm Syndrome where the captive grows attached to the captor. Nor is the tone unremittingly bleak: there are moments of tenderness and compassion that are all the more striking for their unlikelihood.

Faced with this kind of material, other novelists may have laid the portent and gravitas on thickly for the 'benefit' of the reader, but from what I've read so far, a Robinson novel is never far from a surprising twist that will drop the reader squarely into the thoroughly researched and vividly imagined reality of his characters. Robinson also knowns how a good thriller operates too, and I found myself returning to 'Forgetting Zoe' with an urgency I've not felt since reading Cormack McCarthy's 'The Road' (the author has spoken about his admiration for McCarthy's work, so hopefully he won't feel too embarrassed by the comparison).

With three successful novels under his belt (I've not read 'Electricity' yet, but I'm told it's excellent), I think it's safe to say we have an author who's gone from showing great potential to fully realising it and producing books that are on a par with the great established authors we have today.

I look forward to Robinson's next book. In the mean time, I'm going to go pick up a copy of 'Electricity'!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable Zoe 29 July 2011
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Fictional stories of child abductions have become more prevalent in books in the last few years, as has the device of writing from children's perspectives in these novels (such as in `Room') or in other `current topics' (I am thinking of `Pigeon English' which I have just started) its almost become it's own genre in a way. Well, I think so. With this in mind I went into reading `Forgetting Zoe' by Ray Robinson with a mixture of `oh here we go again' along with `go on, impress me, do something different'.

On Friday October the 8th 1999 a ten year old girl by the name of Zoe Neilsen suddenly vanishes on the way to school. This shocks the inhabitants of the small island, just off Newfoundland, is immense, it's a place where people leave their doors unlocked and trust their neighbours. The people it doesn't come as a shock to are the readers of this book, as for 50 pages leading up to this we have been given an insight into the twisted and disturbing childhood of Thurman Hayes, the man who we soon to discover, with an all too familiar feeling of history repeating itself, has abducted her. Zoe has become one of those children who `disappear at a mile a minute' in fact Zoe is now in a bunker 4000 miles from home.

I found the way Robinson put us first in the mind of Thurman Hayes was a particularly clever move, it throws the reader off as they watch the victim of child abuse become the abuser. (Unless of course you read the blurb, I hadn't thankfully, which gives away practically the whole storyline. Publishers, why do you do this?) The fact you feel for him when he lives with such a tyrant as one parent, and complete denial ridden doormat of another, makes the sudden change throw you out of step. Robinson has pulled the rug from under your feet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I had been recommended this novel to read and was really nervous about picking it up, because of its focus on child abduction - this is not something I want to read about in my spare time, to be honest. However, I was so glad I did because Robinson has managed to turn a disturbing and uncomfortable subject matter into a beautifully written and sensitive page-turner that avoids the usual gruesome shock-tactics to keep your attention. With so much media hysteria about these cases in the real world, it was refreshing to read a sensitive portrayal of child abduction that conveys the deeply sad circumstances of all the protagonists involved (something that is simply glossed over in media reports of such cases). I loved his convincing descriptions of the landscape - you are transported right into the middle of the desert - as well as the empathy shown to the complex characters. The book's pace quickens the further you get into it and you become hooked. But again, the culmination of the story is not over-egged and I was pleased that Robinson chose a measured and respectful ending for Zoe. Will definitely put it on the agenda for our next book club.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy novel to forget 23 Jun 2010
The early part of this novel reminded me of the great Daniel Woodrell, no small praise given that the author is English. I agree with the review above, the less you know about the story the better, so don't read the blurb on the back. This is an absorbing, very well written, superbly plotted crime thriller that successfully combines western noir with Nordic elements. I polished it off in three sittings and will be checking out more of Robinson's work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Deadly Boring and Total Waste of Time
I saw very good reviews for this audiobook here in Amazon, and I was so excited to listen to it. But it was so slow and flat, with far too many unnecessary details and not much... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Behzad
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow steady on Rayski!!!
Ray has done it again the Yorkshire porker with a passion for words and talent for the forgotten worlds of characters lost has written another book also now available on KINDLE... Read more
Published on 12 April 2012 by Wayne Kurr
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but a missed opportunity...
I really wanted to like this book and, while it is better than Emma Donoghue's Room, I can't quite bring myself to do so. Read more
Published on 30 May 2011 by bloodsimple
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisted and Absorbing
Ray Robinson takes you on a dark ride of twisted seduction in this novel of abduction. He reels you in, smacks you across the face with horror, and makes you keep reading. Read more
Published on 17 May 2011 by Jude Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars intense
This book took me by surprise, I started reading it just to see if the first few pages grabbed me, it did! I could not put it down, read it in a day which is most unlike me! Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2010 by betty
5.0 out of 5 stars excellant book
what can i say, im a 18 yearold who loves to read,
yes i read all the books by ray,
forgetting zoe was the most exciting read of this year,
even though it was... Read more
Published on 26 July 2010 by lollipop
5.0 out of 5 stars One to watch
Ray Robinson specialises in the extremes of human experience: Electricity and The Man Without both looked at the world from the point of view of damaged individuals seeking an... Read more
Published on 26 July 2010 by Fat City
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy Moly
Forgetting Zoe is still very much with me over 3 weeks after having finished it. What an accomplishment to write a novel about the most horrendous of stories and to do so in such a... Read more
Published on 26 July 2010 by lex5000
5.0 out of 5 stars another fine book from Ray Robinson
An incredibly well written book from an interesting author who use of metaphor and simile separate his books from the run of the mill offerings of many authors. Read more
Published on 25 July 2010 by dave
5.0 out of 5 stars will you forget zoe
This was true life.
Not fiction.
Imprisoned, abused, Relying on the man ./ or beast Thurman. Read more
Published on 25 July 2010 by huskyblue
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