11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Graphic - not Gratuitous,
This review is from: The Book of You (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are two parallel stories to `The Book of You' which is best described as a psychological thriller. There is a first-person account by Clarissa of her traumatic connection to a university academic in the subject of folk-tales, Rafe, who is fixated by her. She sets down her thoughts and records stalking events in a notebook - hence the title `The Story of You' is Clarissa writing about Rafe. Alongside is a third-party commentary covering a rape trial at which Clarissa is a juror - this runs for 7 weeks and author Claire Kendal cleverly uses this to sub-divide her narrative, in addition to flashback events from the start of Rafe's obsession. She skilfully associates her descriptions with fairy-tales where often nice things can look ugly, and a final section jumps 18 weeks further to link with the fable of `The Maiden Without Hands'.
Portrayals of sexual acts and violence may appear brutal, yet these are graphic and not gratuitous, and are related to both the Clarissa-Rafe situation and to horrific courtroom exposures. The interweaving of two stories allows Clarissa to explore and compare her maltreatment by Rafe and the cunning deceitful ways of abusers, and to appreciate how difficult it is for victims to receive justice. A strength of `The Book of You' is how horribly real its circumstances emerge, and it is frightening because concepts of control and fear, and manipulation and anxiety, are made so believable. Harassment escalates, and feelings of trepidation and dread run throughout the novel, and though readers will empathise with Clarissa and credit her as courageous there will be recognition of how opportunities may be missed to involve others in endorsing evidence or her lack of assertiveness. As Claire Kendal develops her characters she introduces flaws, and again this adds credence and realism. `The Book of You' is a compelling and hauntingly disturbing read, and readers are faced with much to think about.