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The Book of You    by Claire Kendal order for
Book of You
by Claire Kendal
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2015 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

The first person narrative of a woman being emotionally and physically terrorized by a man bent on possessing her, Claire Kendal's debut novel presents a chilling portrait of a relationship that has gone completely off the rails.

Blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, as well as love and fixation, Clarissa, the story's protagonist, finds herself stalked after one regrettable night when she admitted Rafe into her bed.

A colleague of hers at the university where she works, Rafe is an expert on the darker side of folk tales. As her own life takes on the all the earmarks of the latent sexual violence found in some fairy tales, Clarissa realizes she must set down her thoughts and record Rafe's stalking of her if she is to ever free herself from this nightmare situation.

Of course it soon becomes evident that these two individuals are heading for a climatic encounter that will leave the reader shaken by the final outcome.

Discussing her novel, Claire Kendal explains that it 'explores impossible models of beauty and body image, the way these models permeate our culture, and the lasting damage they cause to the human beings who fall short of them.

It plays upon the latent sexual violence of the fairy tales; and how easily the socially acceptable face of a hero who unwaveringly pursues the object of his affections becomes something far more dangerous.

It examines the underside of Romantic notions of love requites and unrequited telling a story in which the gestures of chivalry and unwavering devotion can blur into dangerous obsession.

Samuel Richardson's eighteenth century epistolary novel Clarissa served as the partial inspiration for this story.

2nd Review by Mary Ann Smyth (Rating:3):

Loved this book The Book of You by Claire Kendal. Hated to put it down. A real page-turner. Using a different approach, Kendal tells the tale of Clarissa who is hounded by a stalker. Someone who obviously doesn't understand the meaning of 'No! Go away!'

Clarissa writes of her harrowing experiences with Rafe, her stalker. She sets down in her black notebook her thoughts about Rafe and his attempts to capture her attention. She records in that notebook stalking events. As though it was a long letter to Rafe. One that explicitly details all of this madman's attempts to bring her under his control.

While this is happening, she is a juror in a trial that drains her of emotion. On top of that, she must try every day to outsmart the man determined to win her over. Clarissa feels herself lucky to have met a man, a fellow juror, who seems interested in her. She just can't tell him about Rafe. She keeps detailing Rafe's actions in her notebook, hoping that when she goes to the police, she will have enough evidence to put him in prison.

It is hard to ignore this man who follows her everywhere, invades her apartment, intrudes in her few social encounters, sends her inappropriate gifts, and appears in her dreams. He has produced a terror in her that she is determined will stop. It must stop. She will make it end.

The Book of You does not stop at the last page. It lingers in the mind, causing you to wonder what you would do in Clarissa's predicament. Could you handle such a person without breaking down? Are you strong enough to protect yourself?

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