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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indelible Memories
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...
Published on 27 Jun 2010 by Mr. G. C. Cutter

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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. Robinson has a good idea here, and some very interesting themes to work with, but it doesn't quite gel.

(This review contains potential spoilers, so be aware!)

The structure and balance of this novel is not quite right. There is...
Published on 30 May 2011 by bloodsimple


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indelible Memories, 27 Jun 2010
By 
Mr. G. C. Cutter "cutter_me" (Manchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable Zoe, 29 July 2011
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (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.

The other perspective in the novel is that of Ingrid, Zoe's mother. This is written utterly, and heartbreakingly, beautifully. Ingrid is a single mother who takes her daughter for granted, until that fateful day. From the moment that the loss of her daughter becomes a reality, as first there is denial, we watch a women unravel as her world crumbles. The past comes to haunt her, the press turn against her (as the parents always become suspects) from sympathy to suspicion and we watch from the sidelines. It's incredibly well done, you will occasionally dislike Ingrid but you will always empathise with her. In fact it's the flaws in all the characters that make them so real.

One of the most effective things about Ray Robinson's prose is that he puts you in the mindset of Zoe, her mother and her captor without ever writing them in first person. There's almost a sense of him wanting you to feel what they are going through, but at the same time making the reader feel safe - yet still shocked and disturbed - without ever making it too real. I am probably not explaining that very well, you read the book experiencing it yet at a level which doesn't sicken you; you're concerned, shocked and occasionally horrified by the grimness of the story but also slightly at a distance. There is also the fact that Zoe, as a character, is never patronised which could be so easy in a book like this when you give voice to a ten year old.

`Forgetting Zoe' is very different from the stories of its ilk which I have read in the last couple of years. It's darker and grittier, and yet strangely never gets bogged down in this despite how much awful stuff happens over the pages to both Zoe and those affected by her sudden and random vanishing. What Robinson does, which I think is all the more uncomfortable and poignant, with his third novel is give voice not just to the captured, but also to the captor and the captives relations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult subject matters can be beautifully written, 4 July 2010
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy novel to forget, 23 Jun 2010
By 
D Belbin (Nottingham UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (Paperback)
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tender, unsettling and beautiful, 9 Jun 2010
By 
Vanessa (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (Paperback)
Forgetting Zoe is the story of a girl who is abducted from an island off the coast of Newfoundland, by a disturbed, dangerous individual named Thurman Hayes. He keeps her captive in a purpose built bunker in deepest Arizona. The story follows not only the relationship which develops between Thurman and Zoe, but also the devastation her abduction causes in her village. Ray Robinson's novel powerfully, yet delicately, depicts the shock, guilt and sadness which Zoe's mother Ingrid, faces and has to come to terms with. The situation changes Ingrid as a person to such a degree that she becomes more and more distant from those she cares about, including her partner Einar who, as he becomes a suspect, causes Ingrid to question her judgement about everything she has ever known.

Forgetting Zoe is not a gruesome, voyeuristic novel inviting the reader to excuse Thurman's actions, or simply empathizing with the distraught Ingrid, but instead is a beautiful, painful and unsettling novel which causes the reader to question their own instincts to manipulate and control in different relationships, consider the ways in which we might react to the shock of losing a loved one or the possibility of having to see the true character of someone we care about, in the cold light of evidence, and the responsibility we may have in the situation we find ourselves in.

Ray Robinson's gift of making seemingly insignificant observations vital and evocative, are what the reader can relate to, even if the subject matter is, hopefully, far removed from anything they have experienced. Robinson does not 'spoon-feed' his audience and, instead, leaves them to put the pieces together for themselves. Forgetting Zoe is truly a book which will stay with you long after you have read the last page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sympathy for the Devil, 7 July 2010
By 
J. Worick - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 5 July 2010
By 
Lynne (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (Paperback)
Wow - this is a stunning book. It is absolutely gripping, a real page-turner; and yet also haunting, moving, surprising, and beautifully written. It is very different in style and content (not to mention setting) to Ray Robinson's other books (which shows his impressive range and willingness to take risks); but it is every bit as powerful, uncompromising, and unforgettable. I think it is his best yet.

In spite of the dark subject matter (child abduction, Stockholm syndrome) this is an incredibly beautiful, lyrical and readable book. The writer gets into the head of the three main charcters (the abductor, the abductee, and the bereft mother) in a way that is completely believable. One of this book's great strengths is that it faces down the ultimate crime without ever spoon-feeding the reader with easy judgments or facile reactions (as so many books, films etc do these days). That makes it all the more powerful. I could not disagree more with the reviewer below who said she found the book a chore: I read it in two sittings, over one weekend, as I simply could not put it down. I think this book deserves all the awards and prizes going as it is hugely original, daring, brilliantly executed and also a right good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something to give Silence of the Lambs a run for its money!, 30 Jun 2010
By 
Ms. J. A. Thwaites "Juicy Ju" (Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (Paperback)
I have just read this book twice in a row, something I rarely do. I enjoyed it even more the second time. If you like your fiction thrilling, fascinating, gritty, dark and edgy but with a touch of humour, then this is the book for you!
It is very different from Ray Robinsons other books. But equally exciting and well written.
The subject matter is fascinating being about a girl who is kidnapped and held captive for 8 years by a man in Arizona. A relationship develops between the kidnapper and the victim, known as Stockholm Syndrome. A subject that has recently been covered in the news as more and more cases around the world are discovered.
The story develops the two characters beautifully and you can almost understand what drove the man to such insanity when you hear about his upbringing.
I would love to see this be made into a movie one day, it certainly would give The Silence of the Lambs a run for it's money!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talented author creates a modern masterpiece, 25 Jun 2010
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (Paperback)
Ray Robinsons third book "Forgetting Zoe" is undoubtedly his best piece of writing to date with a perfectly crafted story that grips the reader with an intensity that compels you to read on to discover how Zoe's predicament evolves. Robinson's craft in perfectly describing the intensity of this emotional roller coaster makes it a must read book for 2010. highly recommended 10/10...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't be "Forgetting Zoe" anytime soon!, 24 Jun 2010
By 
Dorraine Darden "Author" (Texas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Forgetting Zoe (Paperback)
If characters, setting and story linger long after we've finished a novel, it's the mark of a truly skilled and gifted author. Ray Robinson is that author and Forgetting Zoe is that novel.

The story opens in the bony desert of Arizona, at the ranch of the crazy Hayes family, and weaves us into lush Canada, where ten-year-old Zoe lives before being kidnapped by a psychotic kid named Thurman Hayes. The explosion of landscapes is as much a part of the story as plot itself. With razor sharp description, Ray Robinson makes a dead desert bloom. He also plunges us into the landscape of a mind gone haywire and what happens to an innocent young girl who's forced to be a part of it all.

This is a haunting story of good and evil, but somewhere in between the two extremes, oddly enough, a relationship takes root between Thurman and Zoe, captor and captive. It's not hard to fathom, after all he forces this young girl to live in an underground bunker on the Hayes family ranch, and is the only person she has physical and emotional contact with for years.

Thurman, who was emotionally and physically abused by his own father, becomes the cruel abuser, but over time, strong-willed Zoe works the situation to her advantage, managing to tap into Thurman's occasional tender side by adopting his viewpoints. He eventually allows her "privileges'" of exploring the terrain, and sharing dinners together and sleeping outside of the bunker. Zoe has great insight into human nature, something Thurman will never have. This keeps her alive and longing to be with her mother again.

What struck me most is how Zoe clings to her sanity in such a bizarre, frightening situation that never seems to end. Not only that, but finds occasional joy despite the pain this man inflicts. There is that innate sense that she's going to be safe again one day, normal even, and this keeps her going.

Ray Robinson has the propensity to surprise us, illuminating dark spidery corners of the human mind and yet discovering hope.

You won't be Forgetting Zoe anytime soon! A must read.
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Forgetting Zoe
Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson (Paperback - 3 Jun 2010)
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