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Forgetting Zoe Paperback – 3 Jun 2010

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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: 13.6 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 559,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Author of Electricity, Cut, The Man Without, Forgetting Zoe, Jawbone Lake. Screenwriter of Edith, co-writer of Dream Town. Mentor. Editor. Collaborator.

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. C. Cutter on 27 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
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 By Simon Savidge Reads on 29 July 2011
Format: Paperback
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 By AbigailSPaul on 4 July 2010
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Worick on 7 July 2010
Format: Paperback
I was a bit apprehensive about reading Zoe over a holiday weekend. It didn't seem exactly like a beach read. But I flew through it, being drawn into the dreamscape that Ray Robinson created for each character. Thurman, while an utterly despicable, broken man, is also given some context for his deeds thanks to an effective backstory of paternal abuse and maternal Oedipal leanings. The dreamlike passage of time for the trapped Zoe seemed effective and heartbreaking. While Zoe's mother's story was also tragic, it was really Zoe who captured my heart, thanks to Robinson's fully realized portrait of a kidnapped victim. While I've always understood Stockholm Syndrome, I've never seen it handled so fully and sympathetically. Zoe is conflicted about her eventual escape and freedom and it's in taking ownership of her life, her body, and her feelings toward Thurman that she truly becomes liberated. While she knows she was a victim, she decides to let that experience live within her as she goes forth to make what she can of her future.

Sometimes I get annoyed with a book is too dreamy and atmospheric but I actually appreciated how much I was able to read between the lines. I think the spare, lyrical writing style actually suited the story. I mean, if you were stuck in a bunker for eight years, you'd lose a sense of the passage of time and sort of be in a fugue state too.

Loved the book and I highly recommend. Don't be daunted by the subject matter; the book manages to be lovely despite it all.
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