The Collector

Narrated by: James Wilby
Length: 8 hrs and 55 mins
4 out of 5 stars (623 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Withdrawn, uneducated, and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda.

When he wins the pools, he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

©1963 John Fowles (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Editor's Pick

Fiction’s original incel still terrifies
"I first picked up my dad’s ancient copy of The Collector when I was far too young to truly grasp the story, about a village misfit who becomes obsessed with a young woman and imprisons her in his basement. I devoured it anyway. Fowles plunges you into the warped, misogynistic logic of his villain and then—just when you’re comfortably creeped out—makes a shocking switch in perspective. In the many times I’ve returned to this book over the years, it hasn’t lost any of its power. In audio, it soars. James Wilby’s Frederick gives even You’s Santino Fontano a run for his money for the ultimate unnerving narration, and that’s high praise indeed."
Kat J., Audible Editor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Masterful narration

It's a powerful story of obsession and delusion. The perpetrator seem to see himself as the victim. I suppose he was the victim of a delusional mind. Hats off to James Wilby for his wonderful narration.

16 people found this helpful

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Creepy!

The story starts out creepy & stays that way right until the end. John Fowles has done a brilliant job of creating these characters, particularly Frederick, who seems as though he ought to be as harmless as the butterflies he collects - but who is anything but.

"Gripping" would be a good adjective for this one. It is a remarkably well written story, my favourite so far of the Fowles books available on the Audible book store. It's compelling from beginning to end.

12 people found this helpful

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Fantastic first person book, amazing narration

Any additional comments?

The Collector is one of the best first person books I've listened to. The narration is fantastic. The main character is painted with such clairty, creepy, chilling, fantastic book.

6 people found this helpful

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Perhaps Better Read

Any additional comments?

I have no idea what Fowles's intentions were with this acclaimed book, but I only enjoyed listening to half of it - the bad guy's half. This may have been a reaction to the narrator's OTT reading of the victim. It had me rooting for the bad guy. Maybe that was Fowles intention. I don't know and what seemed to me as mostly a college dissertation certainly didn't make me care.

3 people found this helpful

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You DON'T tell a Disease its Name

I loved this novel of obsession, passion and control. While at the plot level it seems like (what now is a basic, but when it came out was revolutionary) psychological creep thriller (see Criminal Minds, Law & Order, Misery, etc.), this novel is much, much more. It is an exploration and a nuanced look at class struggles, art, power, religion, money, etc.). It is a novel that resonates on several levels. It reminded me of a some weird love-child of Vladimir Nabokov and Thomas Harris. But, perhaps that is just the whispers of all those moths and butterflies talking to me. The narrator bugged at times, but overall did a good job.

26 people found this helpful

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Perfect Performance

What did you love best about The Collector?

This is a masterpiece of a first novel.

What did you like best about this story?

Bizarre and powerful. A compelling portrait of intriguing self-delusion.

Which character – as performed by James Wilby – was your favorite?

Wilby slips into the role so effortlessly that one easily forgets that it isn't actually Ferdinand Clegg telling the story. Wilby should be nominated for an award.

6 people found this helpful

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Brilliant! and amazing narration must read!

I am surprised this hasn't been read read by more people! this is not only a great suspense, it's explores the twisted mind an logic of a psychopath but also how beauty and goodness can be stripped down to nothing. the narrator is wonderful and makes the characters alive , so you can just see them and understand who the are!

1 person found this helpful

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One of the best ever

One of the best ever, period. Read this book, read this book, read this book

1 person found this helpful

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A favorite of serial killers...

I found out about this book in a weird way. Through my guilty pleasure of true crime podcasts, I learned that more than one of the most haunting killers chronicled, had this book in their possession. I thought - how creepy must this book be? For me, the writing was dull. The second part, which is written from the point of view of Miranda, the kidnapped girl, seemed unbelievable and tedious. I felt kind of sick the entire time I was listening and only finished it in the hopes of some sort of redemption and satisfaction, which I didn’t get. I think the author captured the mind of a sadistic killer but never managed to create a real human out of the kidnapped woman. She remained one dimensional, which is just the way serial killers like them, I suppose.

1 person found this helpful

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pre "serial killer" nomenclature

The writing was great, the tangents about the older artist friend slowed down the action considerably but nicely juxtaposed two types of predator. I was expecting much more scare, although the last chapter is authentically chilling.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Cat
  • 12-01-14

I listened in two days!

Absolutely fabulous. Loved the characterisation that made my skin crawl, and Fowles has the incredible talent of making one almost feel sorry for the protagonist's situation, before realising the extent of the delusion. An excellent psychological thriller that I've already listened to three times in two months!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Krzysztof
  • 06-09-17

Gruesome insight into dark side of human soul

This is horryffying portrait of a man falling into abyss, not finding strentgh to hold on to what is good in him but finding excuses at avery step of descending into darkness. It is not a pleasent listen, but it is powerful portrait of how one find himself unable to turn away from evil. Deeply moving book, forcing deep self reflection.

5 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 10-02-19

My word what a horrifying tale

I don’t think I’ll ever listen to this again. Because I don’t think I’ll ever forget the story. Delve into the mind of a person who knows what morals are and how they work, but simply talks himself out of being moral in any way. Then, follow the mind of a young woman who life is altered in one of the most scary ways possible. Lastly hear how it all comes to an end... and the beginning for others.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs Balrog
  • 04-25-19

Excellent version of an insidious tale.

Read the book and saw a film with Terence Stamp many many years ago, I remembered the story vividly. ( it is that affecting!) This version has the same effect, it is stunningly well read by James Wilbey. I highly recommend it but be aware, the story will stay with you.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Hannah
  • 12-26-14

A horrifying, realistic tale of obsession

Would you listen to The Collector again? Why?

No, I couldn't put myself through such an uncomfortable listen again, just because the writing is that spine chilling and believable! Let me be clear, this is a very well written book, and an extremely compelling story, but one of the characters is so repulsive, it is so hard to hear the tragic story from his warped perspective.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Miranda is very brave, resourceful yet flawed young woman. She is an accurate depiction of a desperate woman in her position.

What about James Wilby’s performance did you like?

His commitment and clear diction.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Beware of the quiet ones...

Any additional comments?

This story is not for the fainthearted but is worth persevering though to the harrowing and unpredictable end.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Cris
  • 06-06-19

wonderfully read and the story...heartbreaking .

perfectly read ,the story is so sad and gripping so plausible full of hope and despair a must read

2 people found this helpful

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  • James Don-page
  • 07-12-18

Disturbing

Absolutely incredible, tense and truthful story. Maybe the most unsettling novel I've read/listened too. I definitely want to check out more by this author.

2 people found this helpful

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  • RabbitLemon
  • 05-10-16

Perfect reading

Perfect . The reading was excellent to unwind the story. Loved it. Irritating having to carry on writing review on iPhone while walking in traffic. In order to write enough to send 5 stars

5 people found this helpful

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  • Stevan
  • 07-26-17

amazing

compelling and full of ideas. this book is great and preformed impeccably, a must listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dave K
  • 11-14-19

An unsettling insight into a dawning psychopathy

Although some of the references, internal monologues etc' can seem a little dated now, there is still a haunting element to this tale which is just as relevant today.

The author does a great job of making you feel sympathetic towards the antagonist, and almost hoping he can learn to cope in a world he really doesn't understand.

It's only towards the end you grow a sense of what type of monster he is, cold, distanced and devoid of any empathy, setting the foundations to spawn a truly terrifying serial killer.

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  • Amanda
  • 06-09-15

Loved it. Beautifully written. wonderfully read.

Loved the psychology in this one. Could listen to James Wilby all day. Highly Recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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  • K. Nash
  • 01-27-15

Great use of unreliable narrator

This book uses unreliable narrators to play on your sympathies and the audiobook took it to another level. The extra component of believability, thanks to the vocal performance, further encourages you to feel sympathetic to the narrator despite everything going on in the book and continues to play with your emotions as you try to distance yourself. Great book and great audiobook.

1 person found this helpful