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The Possession of Mr Cave

Matt Haig

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Vintage

Published : 2008

Copyright : Matt Haig 2008

ISBN-10 : PB 0-09-952295-0
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-09-952295-9

Publisher's Write-Up

Terence Cave, intellectual, music-lover and owner of Cave Antiques, has experienced more than his share of tragedies. His mother's suicide and his young wife's death at the hands of burglars left him to bring up his young twins alone. And now one of them has died in a grotesque accident as a result of bullying. Bryony, the remaining twin, has always been the family's great hope: a golden teenager, in love with her cello and her pony, clever, sweet and eager to please. Now that she is all Terence has left, he realises that his one duty in life is to keep her safe from the world's malign forces, whatever that may take. As he starts to follow his grieving daughter's movements, and enforces a draconian set of rules purely for her own safety, the voices in his head convince him to protect her innocence at any cost.

The Possession on Mr Cave is both a nightmare of Gothic proportions and a story of distorted love, with chilling resonance for anyone who has been a parent or a frustrated teenager. In this compulsive novel, the characteristic black humour of The Last Family in England and The Dead Fathers Club moves even further onto the dark side. Matt Haig lays bare the process by which Terence's love for Bryony becomes a possessive force that will lead to destruction and, ultimately, murder.

'Cave's grotesque zeal commands the reader's almost voyeuristic attention, and delivers an enthralling addition to the literature of demented protagonists.'


'A devastating portrait of one man's relentless self-destruction.'

The Times

'Both funny, surreal and at times full of very black humour.'

Sunday Express
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Ben Macnair (301109) Rating (7/10)

Review by Ben Macnair
Rating 7/10
Matt Haigh’s latest book, The Possession of Mr Cave, looks at the life of Terence Cave, the intellectual and unworldly owner of Cave Antiques. He has known pain, his mother committed suicide, whilst his wife was murdered, and now he faces a new tragedy, the untimely death of his teenage son, Reuben, following an easily avoided accident.

Now all he is left with is his daughter, Reuben’s sister, Byrony, the Cello playing and Pony riding apple of his eye, but when he vows to protect her, both his love for what his daughter was, and his repulsion at the teenager she is becoming tear what remains of his life apart.

This is a story of everyday life, interlaced with Soap Opera like tragedy and accidents. It is a well written story, and Matt Haig’s writing style allows for a lot of black humour to leak into the story.

The ghost of Reuben haunts his father, almost possessing him at times, particularly when Denny, who was at the scene of Reuben’s Death, starts to take a romantic interest in Byrony, and that interest is returned.

Byrony gives up her Cello, and Pony riding interests, and starts to take an interest in teenage things, and Terence sees this natural progression as a threat to what he holds most dear.

All in all, this is a good read, with plenty to recommend it, although it slips through many different genres, and as such it is a difficult book to pigeon-hole.
Ben Macnair (30th November 2009)

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