Claude's Journey by John Piper
|Claude's Journey by John Piper|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Sex trafficking and enslavement within the UK: a bleak, topical subject for a debut novel. It contains graphic scenes that will be distasteful to some but it shows the non-consensual, extremely violent and violated side of BDSM that 50 Shades of Grey didn't.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 233||Date: August 2013|
|Publisher: John Piper - Author|
One routine, normally uneventful journey changes Claude's life forever. It begins with a chance encounter with a malevolent hen party and carries on with the betrayal of those he thought he could trust sending him into a spiral of captivity and fetishist slavery.
Here in Bookbag Towers we've been reviewing British author John Piper's novels in reverse order. We started with the alternative history Hibernia Unanimis, followed by his second novel La Crème de la Crem, a more mischievous tale of murder. Now we go back to the beginning and look at his debut which began his catalogue of ordinary humans in extraordinary situations and this one is highly extraordinary indeed.
At the outset Claude is definitely an ordinary chap. As he relates his own story to us in first person narrative, we see a shy introvert with a steady job, renting his own flat. Then it all changes as John takes one of our potential nightmares – running into a hen party in full inebriated rush – and makes it a lot more sinister than we could have dreamt. We begin to realise just how dark it is when we realise that a murder/gangland sub-plot becomes almost light relief from the main theme.
The plethora of characters that becomes a trademark of John's later work isn't present here. The focus is definitely on Claude and his captors, the sometimes claustrophobic focus adding to the sense of violation and horror we feel on Claude's behalf. In a way this is almost a human, more explicit and crueller Black Beauty. As the story unfolds and Claude is passed from owner to owner as the horse was, albeit for very different purposes.
Indeed, it should be pointed out that this is a sexually graphic story and not in a comfortable way. This is a story of someone's violent reconditioning while they're repeatedly abused, raped and held against their will, told frankly and openly by the fictional victim. Not one for those who shock easily or who would balk at the descriptions of continual physical punishment and humiliation.
Claude's frying pan-to-fire slide may make us question the probability at times while we continually think things couldn't get any worse and are continually proven wrong. However this is more a tale of morality (or rather an examination of those lacking what some of society may consider morals) rather than a documentary. Although trafficking is a subject that the news services have covered with more regularity in recent years giving it has a topical edge.
So how should we classify Claude's Journey? Although, despite its high sexual content, this novel isn't erotica as it's not sensually described. What it is is an insight into a world that hopefully none of us will encounter but, for those with strong stomachs, it provides more background to the mind of the sex-trafficking victim and captor than we'd get from the News at 10.
(I'd like to thank the publisher for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you'd like to read more of John's work, we would definitely recommend [[Hibernia Unanimis: "Pro Deo, Rege et Patricia, Hibernia Unanimis" (For God, King and Country, Ireland is United) by John Piper|Hibernia Unanimis] as your next step. If you're more attracted to the sensual side of life, then we recommend Deep Inside by Polly Frost.
You can read more book reviews or buy Claude's Journey by John Piper at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Claude's Journey by John Piper at Amazon.com.
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