Digital version – browse, print or download
Can't see the preview?
How to print the digital edition of Books for Keeps: click on the digital edition (above) and look for the icon in the menu bar that resembles a newspaper article; this will open the edition in a PDF file - click on the printer icon in the top right of the screen to print.
Receive the latest news & reviews direct to your inbox!
For almost all of her 300+ pages, Christopher has just two characters (and a feral camel) to work with, in a setting which is many a mile from the nearest human habitation. As the novel’s subtitle – ‘a letter to my captor’ – reflects, the viewpoint is solely that of one of these characters, so the thoughts and motives of the taciturn second character have largely to be inferred by both narrator and reader. Christopher has set herself challenges which, for me, she partially meets.
Gemma is in Bangkok Airport, en route to Vietnam with her self-absorbed parents (art gallery curator mother and stockbroker father). She’s escaped to a coffee shop, where she meets a youngish, strangely attractive man. That’s when she is kidnapped. Through a blur of drugs, she is aware of other flights and airports, but recovers full awareness only in the blazing heat of the Australian outback. As the story unfolds, we are asked to believe that her captor, Ty, ‘chose’ Gemma years ago, when first he saw her in her London suburban environment. She is to be Eve to his Adam, remote from human contact while he creates a piece of art as a homage to the Eden of the desert. Ty is no rapist. He is gentle and considerate, but he is also damaged; unable to see why Gemma would not want to share his outback idyll. He has stacked up food supplies for several months, has piped water from a cluster of nearby rocks, has an old car and petrol supplies – he catches the camel with Gemma’s assistance to provide supplementary transport. In London, he stalked her so closely that he was on hand to ward off the advances of a boy she knew from school. He lived, he says, in a local park she frequented, earning a few pounds as a gardener; for serious money to enable him to return periodically to Australia to prepare their home, he engaged in serious thieving.
We are asked to take all of this as literal fact; sadly, belief is sometimes stretched beyond the plausible. The lack of incident makes for a slow pace which you could argue is needed to reflect the growth of a relationship. The back cover blurb perhaps gives too much away (‘he expected me to love him’); readers may well be intrigued by the notion of the captured falling in love with the captor (doctors diagnose the case as Stockholm Syndrome). The insistent narrative question may override scepticism – just how will the captivity be resolved? This uneven first novel has undoubted strengths, and it will be interesting to discover where Lucy Christopher turns next.