The basic outline of this book is a lonely, socially awkward, butterfly collecting man falls in love with a young woman. He decides the only way to make her fall in love with him is to kidnap her and keep her, like one of his butterflies, as a collectors item. He falls in love with this woman, Miranda, without having spoken to he simply sees her going about her life as an art student. To him she is the rarest butterfly of them all, he wants to trap her and have her without the mess of her being a real person in the real world
This novel, written in 1963, could be read as an exploration of male entitlement over women. Some men feel that women owe them something, the protagonist forces Miranda to talk to him, be friendly, be happy, be beautifully and dress how he wants her to. It’s the equivalent of men telling women in the street to smile.
The book is ensentially told twice – once through th eyes of the male and again through the eyes of the female. Seeing Miranda’s point of view shows that violence against her, and women, is not necessarily physical. He never sexually assault her, he never hurts her unless he he really needs to restrain her to prevent escape. The violence and abuse Miranda suffers in mental, she is not allowed out in the sunshine, she is not allowed to choose when she washes, she has to talk to him and pose for photographs, her whole self is changed to fit his image of her. This book is both a tense thriller and a delicate study of emotional abuse, showing that ‘normal’ men and not monsters can commit terrible acts of violence against women.
Overall rating: 4/5