SeeSaw by Deborah Moggach Similarities to Stockholm syndrome and Patty Hearst where she fell for her abductors Main characters with their own POV Hannah – the kidnap victim – clichéd goth-like rebellious fat teen Morris – her father – sold his security business before the abduction Val – her mother – probably the best written – some nice phrasing Eva – kidnapper woman – doesn’t come over realistic enough for me Jon – kidnapper – plump? Middle aged? Similar character to Morris. Although the premise is not original – exploration of the emotions and ramifications of a ransom kidnap – I enjoy such explorations. For some reason this one falls flat in some respects. It feels wooden and two dimensional as if we could hardly care for any of the characters. Real pathos seems lacking in sincerity. I wonder if this relates to the head hopping with each of the five main characters having their own POV in short chapters. IMHO only Hannah comes across with sufficient depth. This could be because in the first third of the book only Hannah is well described – ie as a rebellious teen in the role of a clichéd semi-goth. Eva’s disguise is better described than her real self. I had the wrong impression Jon was older and stouter – nearer to Morris’s physique, but was only corrected by the description of him in the second half of the book. In fact Morris and Jon are very similar in speech patterns and morality, which I think is a mistake. Val’s emotions are well done in the early chapters but she fades away by halfway through. I felt uneasy at the anti-working class prejudices reinforced in this story. Even though Hannah’s neighbours are sympathetically treated the Daily Mail pokes at the library, school and general behaviour annoy me. I know books are becoming rarer in libraries but she is too OTT. I appreciate this is partly to show Val up for the snob she is. I wondered how the book was going to end, and I am quite pleased with it, though the romantic in me would have liked Jon to have been able to have more a relationship with Hannah and his baby son. Another book I’ve read vaguely similar to this premise is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. After reading Patchett I felt the urge to read more of her work, but with Moggach, the literary style lacks that depth and quality that draws me in. Too much of Seesaw is obviously contrived – Hannah’s urges to be kidnapped just before it happens. Eva happening to see a videoed newsreel of Jon just as he was coming out of a shop. Quotes that struck me: The banal ransom note ‘ Else its curtains’ – awful. Moddach should have invented better. Good bits: Jon saying about the kidnap. ‘Think!’ he paused. ‘Don’t think.’ The mirror for Hannah is the enemy. Morris when Val says she is giving up work. ‘You can’t give up work, You’ll go crazy.’ Val: ‘It’s for the girls.’ Morris: ‘They’ll go crazy!’ Nearly literary: She bit an apple; mist spurted from it.
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