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The Possession of Mr Cave [Paperback]

Matt Haig
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

7 May 2009

Terence Cave, the intellectual owner of Cave Antiques, has already experienced the tragedies of his mother's suicide and his wife's murder when his teenage son, Reuben, is killed in a grotesque accident. His remaining child, Bryony, has always been the family's golden girl, in love with her cello and her pony, and Terence comes to realise that his one duty in life is to protect her from the world's malign forces, whatever that may take.

But as he starts to follow his grieving daughter's movements and enforce a draconian set of rules, his love for Bryony becomes a possessive force that leads to destruction and, ultimately, murder.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099522950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099522959
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 312,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Haig has hit upon a good idea structuring this as an open letter" (Metro)

"A compelling book; a page-turner in the best sense of the word, in that most suspense comes from character" (John Burnside Guardian)

"Anyone who has experienced the loss of someone they love will try to relate to the tricks the mind can play as they try to make sense of what has happened. A story I couldn't put down" (Essentials)

"A devastating portrait of one man's relentless self-destruction" (The Times)

Book Description

A dark, disturbing novel about a man who loves his child too much.

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Customer Reviews

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4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I must admit that I struggled to decide on how many stars to give this book. As usual for Matt Haig's books it is brilliantly written and the story is unsual, clever and keeps you hooked until the end, BUT, I found this a very uncomfortable read.
It is the story of a mild mannered antique shop owner and his journey into madness. It makes King Lear look like a harmless train spotter. His wife is murdered in a bungled robbery and years later his son dies in an accident trying to impress the group of lads he hung out with. This just left Mr Cave with the boys twin sister. And that is where the nightmare begins. It is a horror story but not in the Stephen King/Mark Morris squashed eyeball or exploding head type. This is a "there but by the grace of God go I" type of story.
The possession comes in 2 forms, he wants to possess his daughter, controlling her life to such an extent that he destroys what he loves the most and the other possession is the root of his madness as he thinks he is possessed by the spirit of his dead son.
The story cleverly builds up the tension so that by the end you are drawn into Mr Cave's mad mind and you see how far he has really gone to exact revenge on a seemingly evil world and protect his daughter.
Very dark and perhaps even gothic, if you beleive the dust jacket, but like all of Matt Haig's books well worth the read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW! 3 May 2011
I can completely understand the other reviewer when he mentions this being an uncomfortable read and not sure what rating to give it, but I have decided to go for a five.

It can be uncomfortable at times, but it should be. A subject like this shouldn't be easy. However, although it is very dark, Matt Haig has made parts witty, although, the story being so dark, there were probably times that I missed some of the wit.

It is amazingly addictive and I just found myself wanted to continue reading just a bit more before I turned the lights out. I felt for Mr Cave and his daughter and can understand the fears he had for her. As must every father of a young daughter. Matt Haig, even in his young age seems to have captured the mind of a middle-aged father (that is losing his mind) and that of a teenage girl brilliantly. The characters really came alive for me and I was only disappointed that the book had to come to an end.

I have read Matt Haig's first novel Last Family in England and loved that too, so I can't wait to read his other books now. I can't believe I didn't see this book in all the bookshop windows. This is not a book to be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunned silence 5 Jan 2014
By Simonne
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of those reads that haunts you... sadness, disbelief, frustration and shock and yet all so seemingly understandable as you're reading.. the descent was almost subtle and yet so glaringly obvious. A masterpiece.
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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Mr Cave is a dealer in antiques. He lives above the shop with his daughter Bryony, whose twin brother Reuben recently died after an incident for which Mr Cave, quite wrongly, blames one of the boy's friends, Denny. Bryony is around 15 and since the death of her brother Mr Cave has introduced a long list of rules designed to protect her. Bryony has an ally in Cynthia, sister of the children's mother who died when the twins were small. Mr Cave has ideas which do not countenance any ordinary future for his daughter. He narrates throughout and we are in no doubt as to his opinions. His daughter has always been special, a serene and beautiful girl who plays the cello like an angel. It is obvious to Mr Cave that she is destined for a prestigious future.

We learn that Reuben has always taken second place in their father's thinking. Where Bryony got a horse, Reuben, who had a birthmark on his face, was lucky to get a bicycle. But things aren't going as Mr Cave feels they should. The ordinary pressure points of a teenager's life - sex, status, friendships and clothes - are beyond his fathoming. Sometimes he feels as if Reuben has come back and is haunting him, directing him towards certain activities which threaten to erupt in violence.

This is all oddly enjoyable, even though Mr Cave is not a likeable person and his attempts to manage (though he would say "protect") his daughter are catastrophically ill-advised. Inevitably there is a climactic night of disaster. We necessarily see everything from Mr Cave's point of view and as a result we don't get much chance to develop much feeling for the other characters. This is Mr Cave's disaster, and one feels he will never really recover. It's a very good read, particularly valuable for over-protective fathers.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In this intimate tale a cultured man is crippled by an inability to find or express intimate his love for his daughter. Written as a heartbreaking confessional, author Matt Haig sets the stage for a showdown between a father and a daughter. Compressed, understated, and in the face of intense feeling, the author places the sensitive, isolated and broken down Terence Cave at odds with his spirited teenage daughter Bryony where access to her profoundest emotions and his capacity to articulate his own emotions come forth in a mélange of suspicion, paranoia and murder. This story begins with a devastating tragedy. One night Terence's son, Reuben, dies losing his grip when he falls from a lamppost. While his body lies cold on the pavement, a group of boys stood around watching him die, one of which is Denny, the budding boyfriend of Bryony.

Terrence's life changes virtually overnight, and now he must come to terms with his the loss of yet another loved one. Two devastating tragedies have already taken the life of both his wife and his mother. Reuben was never going to be the high achiever in an academic sense, but his death forces Terence to renegotiate his relationship with Bryony. An owner of a successful antique business, Terence has spent much of his life mending broken things, perhaps in the hope that he can obtain the power of defeating time and of insulating himself. With Bryony, the only one remaining out of all four people he loved, Terence - desperate to keep his daughter close and keep her safe - assumes the role of the guardian angel, trying his best to ward off the corruptive forces of the night. Denny, however is unrelenting in his pursuit of the teenage girl, Bryony gradually succumbing to the boy's affection, drawn along by his rough-and-tumble working class charisma.
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