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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Stalking Fiona

Nigel Williams

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To purchase Stalking Fiona

Title: Stalking Fiona
Author: Nigel Williams
Genre: Novel
Written: 1997
Length: 266 pages
Availability: Stalking Fiona

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Our Assessment:

B- : fairly clever suspense, but not entirely convincing

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian C+ 6/3/1997 Stuart Jeffries
The Spectator B- 15/2/1997 Harriet Waugh
The Sunday Times B 22/3/1998 Pam Barrett
The Times B+ 7/3/1998 Martin Higgins
TLS C+ 21/2/1997 Alex Ivanovitch

  Review Consensus:

  Clever, a bit sordid, a bit confusing.

  From the Reviews:
  • "This is a complex, racy and not entirely enjoyable read." - Harriet Waugh, The Spectator

  • "What is striking about the book is the inverse relationship between the ingenuity of the plot and the tedium of the characterisation." - Stuart Jeffries, The Times

  • "Stalking Fiona has been conceived as a serious novel; some intelligence has gone into its construction, and it worries away at the relation of writing to authenticity, at the problems of expression and at the notion of personal identity. But all this is done at no great depth and to no great purpose." - Alex Ivanovitch, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       We have always enjoyed Williams' deft comic touch, often presented in somewhat sinister settings. Stalking Fiona suggests similar possibilities with its title, but it does not aspire to the humour of, say, The Wimbledon Poisoner, an earlier Williams novel. Instead we have a more serious work, very much a writer's thriller.
       Four characters dominate the story: stalked Fiona, and the three men she works for. The men are all in love with her, but this is not your usual office romance. Fiona has been assaulted and raped, and it is pretty clear that one of those at the office is responsible. She does not report the initial assault to the police, going back to work the next day, and the story unfolds in an unusual (and fairly artificial -- if interesting -- manner)
       Responsibility for this crime (and others, possibly) is then tantalizingly suggested in letters, computer disc documents, and diary entries (Fiona's and one of her colleagues), as possible scenarios are considered. Some (all ?) of the documents may be fake, as the colleagues apparently try to point the guilty fingers at each other. Williams intricately interweaves his various narrators' explanations of what might have happened. It is clever, but it is a difficult trick to pull off and Williams does not entirely succeed. As the narrators and documents pile on -- and the time frame shifts -- we do not know who we can rely on, and this becomes fairly irritating.
       The alleged attacker, dressed in facemask and yellow gloves, is decidedly unpleasant. The idea that he can be hiding behind the bland exteriors of these relatively boring office-men is rather unsettling -- though they are all revealed as not being quite as bland as imagined.
       It is an interesting experiment, but Williams does not pull it off entirely successfully. None of the characters, even Fiona, is particularly sympathetic, and the actions Williams has them take too often seem too unlikely. The relating of events, often repeated from various vantage points on the computer disk document and in the letters and diaries, gets tedious as well. It is a clever read, but ultimately not entirely satisfying.
       An attempt that one feels might be worthy but is not quite. Hesitantly recommended.

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Other books by Nigel Williams under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction at the complete review

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About the Author:

       British author Nigel Williams was born in 1948. He has written a number of novels and several plays.

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