Posted on 28th September 2011

Posted by Rosa Anderson

Leominster Library Reading Group on Forgetting Zoë

As part of the Fiction Uncovered 2011 promotion, we worked with The Reading Agency to reach reading groups across the UK. Eight selected reading groups were given one of the Fiction Uncovered titles to read, and we’re delighted that they’ve been able to feed back their thoughts. Here, Leominster Library’s reading group, in Herefordshire, tell us what they thought about Ray Robinson’s Forgetting Zoë.

Forgetting Zoë is the compelling story of Zoë Neilson, a ten-year-old who is abducted and then held captive by Thurman Hayes in a converted nuclear bunker in Arizona. She is imprisoned there for eight years in total isolation. This story of unimaginable cruelty is based on real-life cases and is a vivid portrayal of what psychologists now call the Stockholm syndrome: over time, Zoë develops a kind of reluctant love for Thurman, even as her life becomes a regime of predicting and meeting all of his wants and needs in order to survive.

‘Zoë’s developing affection for Thurman, and his for her, is convincing.  He presents a stable figure in her life, and despite the harshness with which she has been treated, she remains a girl longing for affection.  A major theme of the book is how the evil figure of Thurman’s father, and his mother’s compliance with this evil, has resulted in a very disturbed young man who remains an insecure and troubled individual.

‘Ray Robinson transports the reader with the descriptions to the two locations in which the story is set: the hot dry deserts of Arizona, where Zoë is held captive, and the extreme landscape of the Canadian Antarctic, from where she is kidnapped.

‘This is a dark story, not to be read with pleasure, but with appreciation of Ray Robinson’s considerable skill in depicting the depths of human depravity and the strength of human resilience.’

Hear Jason Arthur, Publishing Director for Heinemann, talking about Ray Robinson’s Forgetting Zoë here.


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