The Book of You: A Novel

The Book of You: A Novel

4.4 15
by Claire Kendal

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A mesmerizing tale of psychological suspense about a woman who must fight to escape an expert manipulator determined to possess her, Claire Kendal’s debut novel is a sophisticated and disturbing portrait of compulsion, control, and terror that will appeal to fans of Before I Go to Sleep, The Silent Wife, and Into the Darkest Corner.

His name


A mesmerizing tale of psychological suspense about a woman who must fight to escape an expert manipulator determined to possess her, Claire Kendal’s debut novel is a sophisticated and disturbing portrait of compulsion, control, and terror that will appeal to fans of Before I Go to Sleep, The Silent Wife, and Into the Darkest Corner.

His name is Rafe, and he is everywhere Clarissa turns. At the university where she works. Her favorite sewing shop. The train station. Outside her apartment. His messages choke her voice mail; his gifts litter her mailbox. Since that one regrettable night, his obsession with her has grown, becoming more terrifying with each passing day. And as Rafe has made clear, he will never let her go.

Clarissa’s only escape from this harrowing nightmare is inside a courtroom—where she is a juror on a trial involving a victim whose experiences eerily parallel her own. There she finds some peace and even makes new friends, including an attractive widower named Robert, whose caring attentions make her feel desired and safe. But as a disturbingly violent crime unfolds in the courtroom, Clarissa realizes that to survive she must expose Rafe herself. Conceiving a plan, she begins collecting the evidence of Rafe’s madness to use against him—a record of terror that will force her to relive every excruciating moment she desperately wants to forget. Proof that will reveal the twisted, macabre fairy tale that Rafe has spun around them . . . with an ending more horrifying than her darkest fears.

Masterfully constructed, filled with exquisite tension and a pervasive sense of menace, The Book of You explores the lines between love and compulsion, fantasy and reality, and offers a heart-stopping portrait of a woman determined to survive. Claire Kendal’s extraordinary debut will haunt readers long after it reaches its terrifying, breathtaking conclusion.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Haynes
The Book of You starts with breathtaking brilliance and then just gets better with every page.... [It] is already my book of the year.”
Alafair Burke
“Chilling, raw, and utterly addictive, The Book of You is the kind of psychological thriller that you will want to read in one gulp, only to find yourself terrified once the lights are off.”
Samantha Hayes
“I literally hardly breathed as I raced to the end. It’s a terrifying thriller…so addictive.”
“Kendal expertly heightens the suspense while offering a disturbing portrait of a clever stalker who believes himself to be in love.”
Literary Review
“A gripping tale, well-written and cleverly plotted...[that] demonstrates vividly how destructive [stalking] can be.”
Daily Mail (London)
“This dark, disturbing debut…announces the arrival of a fierce new talent.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Minutes after you dip into Kendal’s novel you’ll know what it’s like to be a woman who’s being stalked—and by the end, your heart will thump and your shirt will get clammy with nervous sweat.”
Los Angeles Times
“An engrossing literary thriller…. The author (who lectures in English literature and creative writing) uses the more violent and sadistic aspects of fairy tales…to explore modern relationships…. As grimly seductive as any of its inspirational sources.”
The Book of You is a frighteningly intimate—and accurate—portrayal of stalking. Through Clarissa’s eyes, we see the ragged nerves, sleepless nights and paranoia brought about by Rafe’s ‘romantic’ obsession. First-time author Claire Kendal draws readers into a taut, compulsively readable tale of pursuit and escape.”
San Antonio Express-News
“Your stomach will be in knots before the end of the first chapter of Kendal’s debut novel.”
Connecticut Post
“Claire Kendal makes a smashing debut with the…The Book of You.…most readers [will] finish the brilliantly constructed novel in one or two sittings.”
New York Times Book Review
“Truly riveting….Clarissa’s silence is both understandable and possibly her undoing.”
Publishers Weekly
★ 02/17/2014
Obsession masquerades as love in British author Kendal’s intimate, chilling first novel, an update of Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. One night, after a launch party at a Bath bookshop for a scholarly study of fairy tales, Clarissa Bourne agrees to let the book’s author, academic Rafe Solmes, walk her home. The next morning, she awakens with Rafe in her bed, with no memory of how she got there and the suspicion that he’s drugged and raped her. Although she avoids him, he calls and texts constantly, lurks near her house, and showers her with unwanted (but extravagant) gifts. Summoned for jury duty, Clarissa watches a rape victim pilloried on the witness stand, and she realizes how easily Rafe could discredit her stalking allegations. So she meticulously documents his efforts to contact her. Rafe goes from being manipulative to overtly menacing, especially after Clarissa becomes involved with a fellow juror. With flawless timing, the author traces how Rafe isolates Clarissa, threatens her, and pries into the most private details of her life, while also deftly incorporating Rafe’s interest in sadistic, sexually violent fairy tales. Kendal spins a tale that’s troubling, raw, and gripping. Agent: Euan Thorneycroft, A.M. Heath (U.K.). (May)
Kirkus Reviews
The victim of a relentless stalker looks for a way out in Kendal's debut novel. Police shrugged their shoulders at a childhood assault suffered by university administrator Clarissa Bourne, sparking her lifelong belief that they will never take her seriously. Soon she puts that theory to the test when her lover, Henry, leaves her to take a job at another college and a colleague named Rafe attempts to insinuate himself into her life. Following a night of sex she can't remember (was she drugged?), Rafe grows more and more insistent that he and Clarissa are soul mates. He follows her, buys her gifts, writes her letters and goes through her trash looking for details about her life. When Rafe finally steps so far over the line that even someone as docile as Clarissa can no longer tolerate it, she builds a case to take to the police, guided by pamphlets aimed at stalking victims. Meanwhile, she's called for jury duty and is chosen for a seven-week trial; the case involves a woman of questionable character who was kidnapped, beaten and raped by multiple men. She meets fellow jurors Annie and Robert. Annie becomes her friend, but Robert, a firefighter, is something else: She finds herself drawn to him and dreading the moment when the trial will end, not only because she won't see him every day, but also because she'll have to return to work, where Rafe can easily target her. Kendal uses her writing skills to fine advantage, both in creating Clarissa's evidentiary journal, which she hopes will help nail Rafe, and in chronicling Rafe's growing menace. Unfortunately, it's hard to believe Clarissa would endure so much abuse from Rafe due to an early and unrelated encounter with police. Nicely written novel with a plot that will strain reader credulity.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Claire Kendal was born in America and educated in England, where she has spent all her adult life. Her first novel, The Book of You, was translated into more than twenty languages. Claire teaches English literature and creative writing, and lives in England’s South West region with her family.

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The Book Of You 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
sneps More than 1 year ago
This is a book that starts out quite intense. Clarissa is a girl that people either can relate to because they see parts of themselves in her, or know someone who is like her. Either way, Clarissa will be someone that will bring out strong emotions in the reader. Clarissa is the typical victim: she is isolated, wants to have a relationship but doesn’t know how to set boundaries because she has self-esteem issues, and doesn’t know who to trust. There are so many issues Clarissa is challenged with, because of the torment she endures from her predator (Rafe). The reader is taken on a journey of the psychological trauma and prison a person can get entrapped in, and how it slowly strips everything from the victim, to a point of panic. It’s an incredible book that shows that cycles repeat, until the victim takes control and makes a shift mentally. If you or someone you know is feeling threatened, in an unsafe situation, or needs to talk to someone, please call the Crisis Hotline! 1.800.273.8255 24/7, anytime, anywhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the first page to the last this book is intense. I found myself actually feeling the sense of what it feels like to be stalked, with no one to help. Very good first effort by this author, I look forward to more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! What a story! It is a disturbing book about a crazed stalker who cannot take no for an answer. I really felt for the main character. The author wrote so convincingly that at times I completely lost myself in the story. This book would truly make an excellent thriller blockbuster movie!
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Clarissa has a stalker and she spends the book trying hard to gather a book of evidence to help present her case to the police.  At the same time as she is gathering her things, she is called as a juror on a case where a woman was brutally beaten and raped and her validity is called into question, a coincidence but a stunning one at that! I am not a literary person, so I am going to try to explain something here - the author wrote parts of this book from the mouth of Clarissa, the victim writing to her stalker (you) and these parts were so powerful, but the narration would switch at times and it made it a little confusing and hard to read.  Because of this, it took me awhile to read the book, but I loved the "you" parts so much and found them to be utterly unique that they made up for some of the confusion. I liked this book for its uniqueness and the ending was more than satisfying.  I just wish the middle had picked up a little more speed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suspenseful but sad topic. Could happen to anybody. Didn't like the ending though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is another book about a stalker - told in the same second person called YOU by Caroline Kepnes. Both were published in 2014. Amazing! I doubt they're connected.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book managed to keep a realistic, yet incredibly fast paced, story line interesting and surprising.
Twink More than 1 year ago
The Book of You is British author Claire Kendal's debut novel. You know that delicious tingle you get when you've read the first few pages of a book and absolutely know you're in for an addictive read? One that will consume you until you finish it? Well, The Book of You is one of those reads. "It is you. Of course it is you. Always it is you." A polite drink one evening. A morning with no recollection of what happened. Three months later, he's everywhere that Clarissa turns, outside her home, her work, watching, leaving notes and presents, approaching her, always polite, but never leaving her be. He hasn't truly done anything that the police can deal with. "The advice in the leaflets doesn't work in real life. I doubt anything will work with you." But what Clarissa does do is start documenting it all - everything Rafe says, does, dates, times, places, saving everything he has left for her. "Perhaps the leaflets are not completely useless after all. They have taught me that a time will come when the story matters a lot. And I already know that every story has a true name. I wish this story's name could be different, but nothing will change it. This story is The Book of You." Clarissa is called to serve on a jury. Although the case is a difficult one - a woman who has been held captive and abused, the courtroom is a place where Clarissa believes she can feel safe for seven weeks. But, she doesn't count on the emotional trauma that the case brings into her own life. Much of the testimony mirrors her own situation. Rafe's stalking of Clarissa is insidious and truly, truly frightening. He manipulates and twists things about, so that Clarissa looks like she is the crazy one. His conciliatory tone, his politeness, his belief that Clarissa is his, is more chilling than overt acts of violence. But for me, it was the watching, the constant surveillance that had me creeped out. I don't know if I could have been as polite in some of the interactions as Clarissa was. I found myself urging her to not dismiss her own concerns, to not try to build a case against Rafe before seeking help from the authorities. To run. Kendal does a fantastic job of slowly and deliciously building the tension. She adds in plot twists that I didn't see coming and an ending I didn't expect. There are situations and descriptions that may not be for gentle readers. For though this is an imagined tale, stalking is an all too real danger for many. The Book of You is a fantastic debut and has put Kendal on my 'must read' authors list. Thriller and suspense fans - this one's for you
Anonymous 6 months ago
Excellent book! I highly recommend. However I don't like the ending. It doesn't really close, just leaves you hanging. I hate those endings..
Cupid More than 1 year ago
Wanted to like this book more. Yes, there is a thrilling aspect to the plot. It is good enough to finish in the manner of thumbing through celebrity magazines out of idle curiosity. But not because you are compelled to find out the ending. The main character as a stalking victim was unbelievable in her inconsistent behavior as a person being stalked. She is well into being harassed on a daily basis by her stalker and yet she behaves in ways that show she is somehow able to forget about it completely at times. Unrealistic.
lrhubble More than 1 year ago
One Not to Miss Everywhere Clarissa turns Rafe is there. At her apartment. At work. In the park. Her voicemail is full of his messages. His unwanted gifts keep appearing at her door. He has also made it clear that he will never let her go. The only sanctuary Clarissa has found is the courtroom where she is serving jury duty. The trial gives her the space to make new friends including an attractive widower, Robert. Now Rafe’s relentless fixation is being fueled by jealousy and is escalating in tandem with the chilling tale of the predator and prey that is unfolding in court right before Clarissa. Clarissa’s only chance to escape lies in exposing Rafe’s sinister intentions. Slowly strand by strand she is able to unravel the macabre fairy tale Rafe has spun around them. She also discovers that the happy ending Rafe sees is more horrifying than her darkest fears. This story takes the reader on a dark and wild ride. Just as the reader thinks it can’t get any worse a new twist is revealed and will have the reader wondering if Clarissa is going to be able to escape Rafe at all. This is an amazing suspenseful story that starts with a bang and keeps going until the very end. The author does a great job of pulling the reader in and having them experience Clarissa’s fear of what is happening to her in her life. This is a story that will have readers wanting to read more by this author and will have them looking for more of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book and I must say it is rather awesome! I can not wait until her next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the main character, Clarrisa sooo much! So comfortable in her own skin. Love several of her quirks and awed by her courage. The story made it so hard to put in down! I highly recommend it to everyone. Wish we could give half stars when rating the book! enJOY!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago