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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Book of You is tense and chilling
This is one hell of a scary story, the creepiness of Rafe really does seep into the brain whilst reading and I for one, became more than a little jumpy whilst I was reading it. Prepare to find yourself peering around corners and off into the distance, who knows who is following you?

Clarissa is a vulnerable woman. Just out of a very difficult relationship...
Published 7 months ago by Lincs Reader

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the second half the novel is falling apart
Middle-aged woman Clarissa Bourne parted with longtime lover after unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant. Shortly after broke-up Clarissa meets at a book launch party with the author of the book Rafe Solms. Rafe asks to walk Clarissa home, she agrees and wakes in the morning in bed with Rafe, but with no memory of the events of the previous night. The protagonist of the...
Published 8 months ago by Ray Garraty


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Book of You is tense and chilling, 12 May 2014
By 
Lincs Reader (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Book of You (Hardcover)
This is one hell of a scary story, the creepiness of Rafe really does seep into the brain whilst reading and I for one, became more than a little jumpy whilst I was reading it. Prepare to find yourself peering around corners and off into the distance, who knows who is following you?

Clarissa is a vulnerable woman. Just out of a very difficult relationship during which her failure to conceive battered her feelings of self-worth almost beyond repair, she's frail and suffering. Rafe is a colleague, someone who she never really took any notice of until the party for his book launch. That night, Clarissa slept with Rafe. The memories are a little hazy, she felt terrible afterwards and was really concerned by the marks and bruises on her body.

Rafe is obsessed. He is convinced that he and Clarissa have a future; that she adores him. Everywhere that Clarissa goes; Rafe is there. His behaviour includes stealing her empty yoghurt pot to sending expensive gifts. He ingratiates himself with her closest friends, managing to make them think that Clarissa is unhinged.

The information leaflets from the stalker organisations advise that Clarissa should record everything, and so she begins 'The Book of You'; a notepad in which she records every painful details of Rafe's obsession.

When Clarissa is called for jury service, she is relieved. This is her chance to get away from Rafe, in a place that he can't get to her. However, the court case brings it's own terrors for Clarissa. Some of the details are startlingly like her own situation and witnessing how the defending solicitors treat the alleged victim only shows Clarissa just how difficult it can be to be believed ... by anyone. The spell in the court room also introduces Clarissa to Robert; strong, handsome, hero fireman. Robert is the total opposite of Rafe, and Clarissa soon finds herself welcoming their daily chats .... and more.

Claire Kendal has very cleverly portrayed the increasing terror and frailty of Clarissa. She writes with ease, keeping the story moving along quickly and using Clarissa's diary notes along with narrative from the present time to create more depth to the plot.

The frustration felt by Clarissa as Rafe ups his game and his behaviour becomes increasingly more bizarre and more terrifying is felt by the reader on every page. The author is excellent at creating tension and unease, and although Clarissa is clearly at the very edge and often makes dubious choices, the reader really does shout for her along the way.

The Book of You is tense and chilling. It is fast paced and oozing with suspense and fear. With an ending that leaves the reader guessing, this is a very good psychological thriller. Claire Kendal is certainly an author to watch out for.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the second half the novel is falling apart, 23 April 2014
This review is from: The Book of You (Hardcover)
Middle-aged woman Clarissa Bourne parted with longtime lover after unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant. Shortly after broke-up Clarissa meets at a book launch party with the author of the book Rafe Solms. Rafe asks to walk Clarissa home, she agrees and wakes in the morning in bed with Rafe, but with no memory of the events of the previous night. The protagonist of the novel is convinced that Rafe slipped something in her drink, and then raped her. Clarissa hopes that she will never see Rafe again.

However, this man begins to follow her everywhere, to the university, where Clarissa works as an administrator, to shops, to railway station, from which the heroine every day commute to work. Realizing that she deals not with the persistent suitor, but with a stalker, she takes from Help Center brochures with tips on how to behave when faced with the stalker. Remembering the incident with the theft of a bag in her childhood, when the police tried to dissuade Clarissa to press charges, the protagonist realizes that the police will not help her. Then, following the advice from the brochure, the heroine begins to ignore her stalker and starts a diary which she calls "The Book of You”, documenting in the first person all the clashes with Rafe, all his gifts and threats.

When Clarissa is selected on a jury duty in the rape case, the heroine happily agrees to leave the job for seven weeks of trial. Rafe will have less opportunity to stalk her. Trial situation is somewhat reminiscent of Clarissa’s. Young woman of dubious reputation was abducted in broad daylight, the suspects brought her to the apartment, where she was drugged and raped by several men.

This debut by British first-novelist can be labeled retro. It is not just the story, though the novel obviously belongs to a special sub-genre "woman in danger", but rather credibility. The novel’s events would have looked naturally in the thriller written by a woman in the middle '40s: the lack of friends, relatives and distrust of the police could make the heroine alone run from moderately dangerous stalker. Novels of thattime were full of suspense half mixed with sentimentalism. But the novel is published in 2014, and these cat-and-mouse game with obsessive stalker are hard to believe in. Eventually the maniac is academician and not a sadistic drug addict with two previous convictions.

Questionable credibility would be small disadvantage, if not more ambitious miscalculations from Kendal. In hernovel, she alternates between the first person (for diary entries) and third (for everything else), although this narrative choice is not justified. Third person does not give a broader view of what is happening, and diary entries are too emotional to qualify as documental for the police.

Kendal handles the plot not too confident. In the first half of the book tension builds, forcing turning pages faster and faster, but by the middle of the book the action begins to sag. The essence of Rafe’s personality becomes clear, but the author continues to write the monotonous prose. So the book would have benefited if it were a hundred pages shorter.

And if a large part of the plot is based on the coincidence, the presence of a secondary storyline, trial part, is generally unjustified. Scenes from the trial are boring, and the constant abstraction of Clarissa only gives reason to believe that the jury’s decsions are irrational since jurors are immersed in their own problems. This plotline extends novel, but adds no depth to understanding of the protagonist.

Finale is disappointing: throughout the book there are hints of some twist in the end, but it all comes down to the usual tedious and tiresome action. This only confirms Kendal’s questionable talent as a plotter. The first half of the novel is intriguing, but in the second half the novel is falling apart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More like a study than a story. Disappointing and predictable., 22 July 2014
This review is from: The Book of You (Hardcover)
No spoilers, but some references to the plot.

I enjoyed seeing the escalating stalking play out, but felt this book's sub and main plots didn't gel. The subplot didn't pay off. I was expecting a surprise turn in which the sappy Clarissa outsmarted her stalker using what she'd learned during the court case, but it never came. The comparisons to fairy tales could have been more fully realised, and really, must a man save our poor heroine?

The predictability was the only surprising thing about this book. I didn't buy the police work being so lacking, nor did I appreciate the colourless dialogue. Only Rafe had a distinctive voice.

Despite a couple of punctuation and grammatical mishaps, the prose is fluid but uninspired.

If you accept this book as a study of one womans experience of being stalked, it might be better, but as a work of fiction it shortchanges the reader to a massive extent.

There is nothing clever about it. What a shame. Oh, and the cliche half a woman's face on the cover? Purlease!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Second Person - always present, 20 Feb 2014
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Book of You (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Clarissa, a woman in her late thirties on the rebound from a relationship in which she and her partner failed to conceive the child they wanted, had a one-night stand a few months earlier with a colleague that ended in circumstances she cannot fully remember - and now he is stalking her relentlessly. Being summoned for jury duty is the only way she can escape his non-stop attention, but it soon emerges that the woman and key witness at the centre of a rape trial has been through some experiences that prompt Clarissa to look at her recent life in a different light.

From the very first paragraph, this is an unusual story for the way that it has been written. We're all familiar with third-person past tense (the most common in fiction), third person present, first-person past and first-person present - all have been tried with various degrees of success. But "The Book of You" for the larger part adopts second-person present tense, which I initially found irritating but soon came to appreciate that it is probably the best option for a tale of obsession, control and manipulation such as this is. Sometimes the writing changes to conventional third-person past tense and it's really quite starkly different in mood and atmosphere when the narrative reverts back to second-person present. It does actually help the reader to understand what it feels like to be stalked, the emotional claustrophobia the sufferer goes through and the desperation felt in seeking a way out, away from the stalker.

Having read "Gone Girl" and "Before I Go to Sleep", with which this new book is compared on its inside front cover, I have to admit (for once) that it's a fair comparison and if anything it's a better read than either of those. Different and page-turning stuff.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A book that can’t decide what it is…….., 1 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Book of You (Kindle Edition)
I was very disappointed with this book for a number of reasons, but my initial disappointment was caused by Amazon. After I paid £4.38 to download the book to my Kindle following a link sent by Amazon, it’s pretty galling to find it selling on the same website for £3.99 the very next day. It’s just 40p difference, but it feels like a rip off and it’s very annoying.
Anyway, on to the book. I noticed this book is classified as a ‘psychological thriller’, but after reading it to the end, I don’t necessarily think that is an accurate description.

It appears that a lot of people liked this book, but to me it consists of some of the worst elements of ‘chick-lit’ (girl meets boy, boy saves the day) with a bit too much torture porn (the in-depth descriptions weren’t necessary and they jar uncomfortably with the way the rest of the storyline is written and could have been left out) with a sprinkling of classic literary references (Keats, Bronte etc.) to make the story appear more ‘high brow’ than it actually is. Then there’s a bit of gothic fantasy horror to wrap it all up. It appears that the author had so many ideas to cram into this story, but sometimes less is more. There are so many gaping plot holes too.

The swapping between first person and third person narratives, only made things confusing along with the author’s choice of naming her characters with similar(ish) names. Is it so hard to think up two names for two different characters that don’t start with the same letter?

The ‘parallel’ court case just comes across as an unnecessary sub-plot. Also, a number of characters (jurors at the court, defendant’s lawyers etc.) are introduced to the story that end up having no bearing on the plot whatsoever which just seems like a waste of words.

It’s not giving away too much away about the story to say that the main character (helpless, pale, willowy) Clarissa is so frustratingly feeble (and unlikeable). The ‘unrealistic’ choices she keeps making and the way she reacts to her stalker are just so limp and ineffective that it makes it very hard to ‘root’ for her.

For her supposed age, Clarissa comes across like a deluded, teenager. Her reasoning as to why she can’t go to the police or why she can’t tell her family or friends or colleagues is so juvenile as to be unrealistic. The amount of times she intentionally puts herself in harm’s way is exasperating. The adolescent way she falls for (tall, manly) Robert could have been taken straight from a teen romance novel.

Obviously, the stalker is a nasty character, but he’s written in such an over the top and melodramatic way that it takes you ‘out’ of the story. I wish the author could have reigned in some of the sensationalism and kept him a little more realistic and low-key – that perhaps would have allowed the suspense to build up and made for a real psychological thriller. Unfortunately, instead, the pacing of the storyline is all over the place.

Not a satisfying read and definitely not a book I would recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Did not like this, 7 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Book of You (Hardcover)
Theres lots of stalker books around right now and this is one if the worst I've read. Didn't like all the coincidances that made it too unbelievable. The main woman is annoying and I couldn't get to the end of this.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "He's not my boyfriend...", 9 Dec 2014
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Book of You (Hardcover)
While being a little stretched out, this chiller has real impact. It’s also an education in what to do if you have been singled out for unwanted attention. The pains taken by Clarissa are at one end of the spectrum, and if you are of a nervous disposition, perhaps living alone and unnerved by someone who won’t take no for an answer this might prove a useful book to have read.

The violent denouement is utterly gripping and, while it takes it’s time in terms of culmination, it poses an intriguing scenario. Clarissa has been called up for jury service and it initially solves a few problems around a boyfriend who has unrealistic expectations. She wants him out of her life but he won’t take the hint. Gradually the evidence piles up, however, that he’s never going to take the hint. His devious behaviour quite quickly becomes way over the top. But he’s clever. His obsession with Clarissa is frighteningly psychopathic.

Some of the descriptions are quite graphic, which I could have done without, but on the whole this is a powerful novel about stalking. Prepare for the odd nightmare, maybe?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok, but too much doesn't ring true, 8 July 2014
This review is from: The Book of You (Hardcover)
I was interested in the stalking element of this book, and thought the character of Rafe was chillingly well written in this area. However, as the stalker's behaviour became more unbalanced it was strange that the Clarissa's just put up with it, while writing in her notebook as instructed by the helplines she'd called. I also felt some elements of Clarissa's time on jury service didn't quite ring true, particularly her relationship with Robert.

An interesting book, worth a try if you like psychological thrillers, but too many holes and too weak an ending for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars intriguing and disturbing, 28 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Book of You (Kindle Edition)
This is an interesting tale that is uncomfortable to read. I read it completely in 2 days. It wasn't a pleasurable read, but I enjoyed it. There is a twist at the end that took me by surprise.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'It is you. Of course it is you. Always it is you.', 9 Jun 2014
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Book of You (Hardcover)
Clarissa is being stalked by Rafe. He appears all the time, wherever she is, at her home, when she is out, in the park, everywhere, his menacing, unwanted presence is there. No matter how clearly she tells him to leave her alone, to go away, or even when she tries to just ignore him completely, to not give him the satisfaction of any response, he does not stop, he is determined she will give in to him, and that he can control her. She avoids him as much as she possibly can, but they share the same workplace, and they shared one night together, once. Then Clarissa is called for jury duty, and feels relieved because she'll be in the courtroom away from Rafe for most of the day for several weeks at least. There she gets to know some of the other jurors, including one who is kind and friendly, who she chats with and this takes her mind off events with Rafe, at least for brief periods. As she listens to the evidence in what is a violent case, things start to compare to the situation she is in. She realises what she needs to do, and she collects together the evidence of what Rafe has done. She's got her notebook, detailing all the times he has threatened, stalked, intimidated her, she keeps things he has left in her mailbox and so on, stockpiling the evidence, hoping that one day there'll be enough for it to be considered seriously by the police.

The main narrative sees Clarissa's experiences as recorded in her notebook, using the second-person. The style isn't all that common in popular fiction to my knowledge, but it is used really effectively here, like it was in Rosamund Lupton's Afterwards. It conveys with immediacy the fear she feels, the threats she endures, and the total, unwavering obsession Rafe has with her. Rafe is genuinely frightening and manipulative, utterly determined to have his way and be in control. Clarissa is an increasingly frightened victim and despite her best efforts can't seem to outmanoeuvre him. This all culminates in a dramatic finish. The other part of the narrative is in the third-person, recounting the events in the court.

It's an utterly compelling story, a brilliant, haunting read, that made my heart beat a bit faster and my pulse race. I read it on holiday and it was absolutely perfect for fast-paced, tense reading when you're in the mood to get totally lost in an absorbing story and gulp it down. The fear and anxiety felt by Clarissa is palpable, as well as her seeming very alone with this problem for the most part.

The Book of You is a strong debut novel, a really cracking page-turner, a tense, excellent psychological suspense tale; Claire Kendal does a good job of getting you emotionally invested in what happens to Clarissa; I almost didn't dare read on at times and yet of course the story had me hooked and I didn't want to put it down until I'd finished.
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