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Helpless

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Helpless Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the internationally acclaimed author of The White Bone and The Romantic, a haunting and suspenseful novel of abduction and obsessive love.

Nine-year-old Rachel Fox has the face of an angel, a heart-stopping luminosity that strikes all who meet her. Her single mother, Celia, working at a video store by day and a piano bar by night, is not always around to shield her daughter from the attention — both benign and sinister — that her beauty draws. Attention from model agencies, for example, or from Ron, a small-appliance repairman who, having seen Rachel once, is driven to see her again and again.

When a summer blackout plunges the city into darkness and confusion, Rachel is taken from her home. A full-scale search begins, but days pass with no solid clues, only a phone call Celia receives from a woman whose voice she has heard before but cannot place. And as Celia fights her terror and Rachel starts to trust in her abductor's kindness, the only other person who knows where she is wavers between loyalty to the captor and saving the child. Will Rachel be found before her abductor's urge to protect and cherish turns to something altogether less innocent?

Tapping into the fear that lies just below the surface of contemporary city life, Barbara Gowdy draws on her trademark empathy and precision to create a portrait of love at its most consuming and ambiguous and to uncover the volatile point at which desire gives way to the unthinkable.

Review:

"Love comes up against obsession in Gowdy's seventh novel (following The Romantic), and the results are at times chilling, but not always believable. Single mother Celia works two jobs and is often forced to bring nine-year-old Rachel along to her nighttime gigs at a piano bar. Much to Celia's dismay, men are already drawn to biracial Rachel's exotic beauty, and she reluctantly turns down a lucrative modeling contract for the girl. Yet she's unaware that appliance repairman Ron Clarkson has an unhealthy fascination with Rachel that's escalating. Convinced that Celia is not a worthy parent for Rachel, Ron abducts the girl, soon involving his needy girlfriend, Nancy, and igniting an extensive investigation. Although set in Toronto's urban Cabbagetown neighborhood, the atmosphere feels smalltown insular and relies a bit too much on coincidental acquaintances to feel like a city setting. The kidnap plot is, for Gowdy, surprisingly conventional, but frequent glimpses into the childhoods of Ron, Nancy and Celia add depth, revealing the characters' motivations and inviting contemplation of what constitutes appropriate love toward a child. Ron remains too warped to be remotely sympathetic; more compelling are Nancy's conflicted loyalties and Celia's occasional brutal reflections on the sometimes greedy, possessive love between parent and child — a love not unlike obsession." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"One hot summer night, a blackout douses Toronto in darkness. The lights come back up on a nightmare for Celia Fox, a single working mother. What unfolds during the search for her 9-year-old daughter, Rachel, snatched by a repairman with murky motives, occupies most of Barbara Gowdy's new novel, which probes the nature of love, obsession and the capacity for self-deception.

Celia... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A]bsorbing reading." Booklist

Review:

"[A] nail-biting tale of suspense, spells extra work for manicurists everywhere. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"An assured, perceptive, deftly delivered story." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Helpless will not disappoint any of [Gowdy's] fans and will likely win her some new ones...brilliant." Edmonton Journal

Review:

"Gowdy has created a book that stands out among an already unique and powerful body of work." Montreal Gazette

Review:

"Gowdy consistently zeros in on strange minds, on propositions of difference in consciousness, and then resolve them through a kind of sympathetic intervention." The Globe and Mail

Synopsis:

Rachel is a nine-year-old girl whose luminous beauty inspires every form of admiration. One summer night, when a summer blackout plunges the city into darkness and confusion, her most fervent admirer--a middle-aged appliance repairman named Ron--abducts her from her home. Set over the next two weeks, Helpless moves between the perspectives of Rachel, her mother, Celia, and Ron, whose feelings for Rachel grow less innocent by the day. Tapping into the fear that resides just below the surface of contemporary city life, Helpless is a "brilliantly realized thriller about every parent's nightmare" (Calgary Herald).

Synopsis:

In this haunting and suspenseful novel of abduction and obsessive love, Gowdy draws on her trademark empathy to create a portrait of love at its most consuming and ambiguous to uncover the volatile point at which desire gives way to the unthinkable.

About the Author

Barbara Gowdy is the author of five previous books, including most recently The White Bone and The Romantic. Her fiction has been published in more than twenty countries. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805082883
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Gowdy, Barbara
Publisher:
Picador
Subject:
Toronto (ont.)
Subject:
Suspense
Subject:
Single mothers
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Christian - General
Subject:
Missing children
Subject:
Psychological
Subject:
Literary
Publication Date:
20080401
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 x 0.708 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

Helpless Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Metropolitan Books - English 9780805082883 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Love comes up against obsession in Gowdy's seventh novel (following The Romantic), and the results are at times chilling, but not always believable. Single mother Celia works two jobs and is often forced to bring nine-year-old Rachel along to her nighttime gigs at a piano bar. Much to Celia's dismay, men are already drawn to biracial Rachel's exotic beauty, and she reluctantly turns down a lucrative modeling contract for the girl. Yet she's unaware that appliance repairman Ron Clarkson has an unhealthy fascination with Rachel that's escalating. Convinced that Celia is not a worthy parent for Rachel, Ron abducts the girl, soon involving his needy girlfriend, Nancy, and igniting an extensive investigation. Although set in Toronto's urban Cabbagetown neighborhood, the atmosphere feels smalltown insular and relies a bit too much on coincidental acquaintances to feel like a city setting. The kidnap plot is, for Gowdy, surprisingly conventional, but frequent glimpses into the childhoods of Ron, Nancy and Celia add depth, revealing the characters' motivations and inviting contemplation of what constitutes appropriate love toward a child. Ron remains too warped to be remotely sympathetic; more compelling are Nancy's conflicted loyalties and Celia's occasional brutal reflections on the sometimes greedy, possessive love between parent and child — a love not unlike obsession." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A]bsorbing reading."
"Review" by , "[A] nail-biting tale of suspense, spells extra work for manicurists everywhere. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "An assured, perceptive, deftly delivered story."
"Review" by , "Helpless will not disappoint any of [Gowdy's] fans and will likely win her some new ones...brilliant."
"Review" by , "Gowdy has created a book that stands out among an already unique and powerful body of work."
"Review" by , "Gowdy consistently zeros in on strange minds, on propositions of difference in consciousness, and then resolve them through a kind of sympathetic intervention."
"Synopsis" by ,

Rachel is a nine-year-old girl whose luminous beauty inspires every form of admiration. One summer night, when a summer blackout plunges the city into darkness and confusion, her most fervent admirer--a middle-aged appliance repairman named Ron--abducts her from her home. Set over the next two weeks, Helpless moves between the perspectives of Rachel, her mother, Celia, and Ron, whose feelings for Rachel grow less innocent by the day. Tapping into the fear that resides just below the surface of contemporary city life, Helpless is a "brilliantly realized thriller about every parent's nightmare" (Calgary Herald).

"Synopsis" by , In this haunting and suspenseful novel of abduction and obsessive love, Gowdy draws on her trademark empathy to create a portrait of love at its most consuming and ambiguous to uncover the volatile point at which desire gives way to the unthinkable.
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