Interesting read. I won't say I enjoyed it because it was a bit claustrophobic but I'm glad I've read it. I thought it was well-written but I would have found it easier if both accounts had run concurrently to save me having to flick back to try and find the corresponding part in the first account!
I found the set-up very familiar when I started this-- the whole girl-in-a-cellar thing reminded me of Silence of the Lambs and countless others. But I suppose it was a fresher idea when this was written in the 60s.
Also, once I got onto Miranda's part of the book, I realised that apart from being a psycho thriller, this book is really about the struggle between the aesthetic and the anti-aesthetic. I am totally married to a 'Fred', who just doesn't get how I find ugliness dispiriting and I can totally identify with Miranda's feelings of not wanting to seem snobbish about Frederick's lack of taste but being unable to suppress her own yearning for beauty. At the end, what I found even more tragic than her death was that he read her whole diary and still didn't 'get' what she had been trying to show him about beauty.
I liked that the two povs weren't interwoven; it allowed you to become totally immersed in each of their stories without distraction. The end is chilling, again, I think Fowles is trying to say something greater about his time when Frederick's outlooks 'wins'.
Interesting to read the other comments! I just couldn't dislike Miranda due to her predicament and ultimately horrible fate.
However if I find myself thinking of "Fred" as less than human (as per Miranda's way of thinking) that to me becomes problematic as it is so tied in with class divides, the haves and the have nots, those with and without education and a means of expressing themselves fully.
Loved the way the book was written and the perfect, spare use of language. And the ending was neat if chilling.
I really enjoyed this book - just goes to show you cant judge a book by its cover. I too thought that the two points of view in two separate sections was good as you got the whole story twice - an intersting tale given it was from the 60's. I did think the end was poor though.