Book Review: The Book of You by Claire Kendal

A few of weeks ago, my colleague said she had been chatting with a friend about an amazing book.  She said this friend really recommended reading it and had mentioned that it had a particularly compelling plot.  At the time, I was still stuck in ‘Byron-land’ and as much as I wanted to read this book, I knew that my attention was fully occupied with the divine George Gordon and therefore I mentally added to my ‘to read’ list.  Imagine my joy when, upon walking into my local library yesterday, the first book I laid eyes upon was the very novel we had been discussing…

The Book of You by Claire Kendal is a thriller and to be honest, it’s not a genre I am usually drawn to.  However, I literally could not put this book down last night and even found myself waking up early just so I could finish it before I headed out to my dance class at 9:30am.  The plot centres around a female protagonist called Clarissa who is being stalked and intimidated by her colleague, Rafe.  She finds herself called up for jury service and is relieved, knowing that it will remove her from his presence – even if just for a short while.  It is announced that the trial will run over a 7 week period and, during that time, Clarissa begins to see frightening parallels between her own experiences and that of the female victim.

Using both the first person diary format and the third person description of events means that Kendal is able to interweave the complexities of the situation with Clarissa’s own inner voice.  This results in the reader being in the position of both observer and confidante, which mirrors somewhat Clarissa’s position as juror.  Kendal crafts the narrative in a way that makes the final encounter between Clarissa and Rafe inevitable yet when it arrives, the shocking impact is successfully maintained.  There’s also a twist at the end but of course, I won’t reveal that…

There are elements of the narrative that are uncomfortable to read and some that are upsetting and harrowing.  The thematic links drawn between fairy tales and Clarissa’s experiences also lead you to question just how unsettling these well-known tales really are!

It’s rather difficult for me to pose the usual set of book group discussion questions here as in doing so, I may inadvertently give away too much of the plot.  I feel that it won’t be long before a film studio snaps up this book (indeed, they may already have done so!) and perhaps in this instance, a good starting point for discussion could centre around the casting of the characters.  Clarissa, for example, requires an actress who can effectively convey her vulnerable fragility alongside her inner strength.  Who would you choose?

My library copy of The Book of You by Clare Kendal ready to be reviewed...

My library copy of The Book of You by Claire Kendal…ready to be reviewed…

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