8 May 2009


Helpless By Barbara Gowdy.

Celia is the struggling single mother of an exceptionally beautiful child: nine year old Rachel. Aware of the precarious balance of the life she has built for them, when Rachel disappears one hot summer night during a blackout, Celia is stricken with guilt and terror.

The media coverage of the abduction is tremendous and closely monitoring events is Ron, an appliance repairman who lives nearby. Though Rachel is a stranger to him, he convinces himself that she is his responsibility. His feelings for her are at once tender, misguided and chillingly possessive.

Helpless is a haunting, provocative story of heart-stopping suspense that offers extraordinary insight into the complexities of love.

I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to write about this novel. Being a book club read it wasn't necessarily a book I would have chosen for myself but once started I found it difficult to put down but why this was I don't quite know.

Due to the subject matter of the book it was, at times, a difficult, even distressing, read and I must confess that I felt quite guilty on finding myself having a degree of empathy with the obviously damaged Ron but of all the characters, I found his to be the best written and certainly, along with Nancy, the most believable.

"Helpless" I found strangely compelling though not very well written, with, on the whole, weakly drawn disappointing characters, and an ending that was, well, "nice" but somehow too convenient. It was, however, thought provoking and certainly had me thinking about love and all it's many guises which made it the novel it was.

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