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Ian McEwan: Nutshell

Plot summary:

Nutshell by Ian McEwan is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare’s classic play Hamlet. However, in this adaptation, the role of Hamlet is essentially played by an in-utero child within Trudy’s (this version’s Gertrude) womb.

The novel begins with the narrator learning that Trudy and Claude (this version’s Claudius and the narrator’s uncle) plan to kill John, Trudy’s estranged husband and the narrator’s father. This causes the narrator to become furious. Even though the narrator has never met his father, he respects his intelligence. In this section of the book, the reader also learns that the narrator, while not quite born, is wiser than many full-grown people. He is able to make inferences about the outside world and the actions of other people through his knowledge of Trudy’s biological responses and his hearing.

The narrator is rather uncomfortable with Claude, as he has struck up an affair with Trudy. Eventually, the reader learns that Claude and Trudy intent to poison one of John’s smoothies with anti-freeze, plant items in his car to make the death look like a suicide, and wear his hat to the smoothie store as to make it look like John had bought the smoothie himself. Prior to the day of the murder, John brings one of his poet friends, and seemingly new girlfriend, to his home (which Trudy and Claude now live in). John informs Claude and Trudy that he knows about the affair and requests that they move out of his house so he can move back in. They refuse because they want to sell the multi-million-pound home after John is dead. Later, during Claude and Trudy’s sex, the narrator attempts to hang himself with his own umbilical cord.

The next day, John visits again. Claude and Trudy successfully poison his smoothie and trick him into drinking it. John leaves, and not long after, the police inform Trudy that John is dead. Initially Trudy shows a cold response to the news but later breaks down. Claude informs Trudy that they can either get rich together or be poor in separate prisons.

A Chief Inspector soon arrives to question the pair. They spin a story that John was depressed and how the death must have been a suicide. The Inspector plays along for a time until she reveals John’s gloves (which the murderers would hope explain to the police why no fingerprints appeared on the anti-freeze bottle). The Inspector tells them they he could not have worn the gloves, as they were full of spiders.

Claude and Trudy panic and attempt to leave the country. Just as they are about to leave the house, the narrator decides that he wants to be born. Claude initially wants to leave Trudy behind but is forced into helping with the birth. The narrator is born, the police arrive, and the novel ends.



Gail Honeyman: Eleanor Oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant has worked in the same office for the past nine years. After winning tickets to a local concert in the office lottery, Eleanor believed she met the love of her life, the musician Johnnie Lomond. She resolved to make a project out of winning him over, before ever meeting him. Engaging in a series of physical makeovers, Eleanor disrupts her established routine. She buys herself new clothing and cosmetics, as well as a new phone and computer to follow the musician’s Twitter account.

Then, one day after work, Eleanor and the office’s new IT guy Raymond came across an elderly man who had fallen over. They helped the old man, whose name they learned was Sammy, calling an ambulance and waiting with him until it arrived. Eleanor visited Sammy in the hospital and began to form a friendship with Raymond and Sammy.

Eleanor attended a party Sammy’s daughter Laura threw for Sammy and one that Sammy’s son Keith was having for his 40th birthday. Eleanor’s boss Bob offered her a promotion to office manager. As Eleanor grew closer to Raymond, she began meeting with him for lunch and discussing her life. She told him about her abusive ex-boyfriend and her complicated relationship with her mother, whom she calls Mummy. Eleanor’s weekly phone conversations with Mummy made Eleanor upset and feel undeserving of love. Sammy died unexpectedly of a coronary. Eleanor and Raymond attended his funeral, during which they both became emotional.

After many preparations to transform her appearance, Eleanor planned to go to Johnnie Lomond’s concert. She had high hopes for meeting the musician, but when she learned that he was the opposite of the ideal gentleman that she had envisioned him to be at the concert, she began drinking profusely. She blacked out and woke up naked on the floor under the table in her flat. She planned to kill herself, but she kept drinking vodka and blacking out until Raymond found her at her flat after a few days of her absence from work. He helped her take care of herself and start counseling.

Through many sessions with Dr. Maria Temple, Eleanor opened up about her experiences in foster care, her discomfort about keeping in contact with Mummy, and the memories of her childhood that she cannot fully remember. Eleanor spoke about the house fire that she survived when she was young. Eleanor’s mother had started the fire in an attempt to kill Eleanor and Eleanor’s little sister Marianne. However, both Mummy and Marianne ended up perishing in the fire, while Eleanor survived, causing her extreme guilt.

Returning to work, Eleanor received a warm welcome from the office. Raymond helped Eleanor research the details of the fire that she did not remember. She decided to continue therapy to come to terms with why she had been pretending that she had been speaking to Mummy for all those years that Mummy had actually been dead. She made plans with Raymond to see him again.


Deborah Levy: Hot Milk

Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She’s frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and Rose travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant, Dr. Gomez—their very last chance—in the hope that he might cure Rose’s unpredictable limb paralysis, but Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Rose’s illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sofia’s role as detective—tracking Rose’s symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain—deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.



Jon Nesbo: Blood on snow

It’s set in Oslo in the late 1970s. Olav is a fixer for Daniel Hoffmann, a drug trafficker who’s come up with an ingenious way of getting heroin into the city. The product travels from Afghanistan, through the Soviet Union, and crosses into Norway on a tiny island in the Arctic Ocean that’s shared by both countries but doesn’t have a particularly well-patrolled border. Hoffman’s henchman Olav is not numerically talented enough to be a dealer. Nor was he any good at pimping. He always felt sorry for the girls. Getaway driver? Rubbish at that too. So instead he does what he’s best at – putting a pistol up to someone and ending their existence. He shifts units, as he sees it.

When Hoffman finds out his wife has been cheating on him he decides not to kill the cuckold, but to get his wife ‘fixed’. Olav is the first man he calls. So our anti-hero sets up observation of Corina Hoffmann in order to work out the best way to kill her without being caught and without Hoffmann getting the jacket for murder. Trouble is, cat-like and full-breasted, she is a sensual woman and Olav falls in love with her. Instead of carrying out his mission, he kills the man who visits Corina during the day for bouts of rough sex.

While Hoffman’s not happy to hear it, Corina treats Olav like he’s a knight in shining armour and soon she’s hiding with him in his apartment. Not long after that, they are in bed together. Olav decides the only way for their love to last will be if he fixes Hoffmann and they flee to Paris together. The only problem is he has no money. So he pays a visit to The Fisherman, another Oslo crime lord who is Hoffmann’s enemy and therefore his own enemy too. Olav is set on a course that will see him hide in a coffin in a church crypt, trigger cocked not knowing who he can trust.

This is the tale of a hitman with a heart who, the minute he senses the redeeming power of love in his life, must make some difficult choices. His search for something good, after a life so bad, exposes his weaknesses as well. The story is driven by Olav’s character and Nesbo is, as ever, a perfect storyteller. The things that made Olav what he is – from his father’s brutality to his mother’s alcoholism and on to his own dyslexia – are peeled away and yet the narrative never misses a beat. We see our anti-hero discovering some hope of salvation, and we also see his world disintegrate. Can he live the dream and run away with Corina Hoffmann?


Isaac Asimov: The gods themselves

The Gods Themselves is a science fiction book by Isaac Asimov. Published in 1972, the book follows a handful of characters who must convince the world that Earth’s latest renewable energy source is killing the planet. If humanity doesn’t stop cultivating this source, the whole solar system will collapse. The book won numerous awards including the 1972 Nebula Award and the 1973 Hugo Award. Asimov is an internationally-bestselling author with an asteroid named after him. He once served as Vice President of Mensa International and President of the American Humanist Association. In his books, he often explores scientific questions from a historical perspective.

The Gods Themselves takes place in the early 22nd-century. Humanity has found a way to communicate with aliens in other worlds. We know there’s such a thing as a parallel universe, and humans have established relationships with leaders around the cosmos. Scientists in our world work very closely with aliens, and there’s no suggestion that the aliens want to hurt humans.

In the first part of the book, we’re introduced to a radiochemist called Frederick Hallam. Earth is recovering from ecological collapse, and scientists like Frederick are looking for ways to kickstart the planet again. One day, Frederick stumbles across a compound called plutonium 186. Plutonium 186 doesn’t exist on Earth, and so he doesn’t understand how it got there.

Frederick tests the compound and discovers that it generates cost-effective energy. If scientists harvest plutonium 186, they can generate limitless energy at a very low cost. He establishes an energy system, known as the “Pump,” between Earth and another universe which produces the compound. This universe, running parallel to our own, uses different physical laws and produces energy differently. Humans will never have an energy problem again, so long as they maintain the Pump.

Some scientists, however, doubt the Pump. They worry that aliens planted plutonium 186 into our universe for their own ends, to trick us into working with them. One such scientist is Peter Lamont. Peter spends years researching the Pump and arrives at a startling conclusion—the Pump is killing our universe. It generates unstable levels of nuclear forces around the sun and the entire Milky Way. If humans keep exploiting the Pump, they’ll destroy the sun and everything around it.

The problem is that, in the parallel universe, things aren’t much better. The aliens know that their own sun is dying, and streaming energy through the Pump keeps the atmosphere stable. Although they know that Earth might explode because of the energy exchange, they don’t care so long as their own universe stays intact.

Peter tells Earth-based governments to sever all ties with the Pump because it’s so dangerous, but no one listens to him. He then reaches out to the aliens in the parallel universe and asks them for help, but they tell him that he must end the Pump from his side. Peter, of course, doesn’t know the real reason why the aliens won’t shut down the Pump. Part one ends with Peter pondering Earth’s collapse.

Meanwhile, in part two, there’s at least one alien who feels bad for Earth. This alien is a female called Dua. She loves studying the different physical laws between the universes. During her studies, she discovers the problem with the Pump, and she’s outraged. She confronts her elders about it, but they tell her that they need the Pump more than they need Earth. Without the Pump, the alien species will fail, and they’ll lose their ability to procreate.

Dua doesn’t want her species to die out, but she knows that humans deserve to live. She finds two other aliens, Odeen and Tritt, who reluctantly agree to help her stop the Pump. They form a triad, which is an irreversible union between three alien bodies. They “merge” and form an entirely new body. They choose a scientist’s body, because they know that humans will listen to a scientist. They call the scientist Estwald, and they head for Earth.

When part two ends, part three begins on the Moon. The protagonist in this section is a scientist called Denison. He worked with Frederick, but he fled to the Moon when Frederick developed the Pump. He secretly prays that the Pump fails, because he’s a jealous character. In the meantime, while the Pump remains functional, he’s devising his own energy system to replace it.

One day, Denison discovers what’s happening to the sun. He realizes that the Pump will kill everyone on Earth. This is his one golden opportunity to destroy Frederick, and he knows he must find an alterative energy solution fast. He communicates with a second parallel universe, which has its own unique set of physical laws, and he makes a discovery—this universe will stabilize the Pump.

Denison shows everyone that he can harness this second parallel universe to take excess energy from the Pump and convert it into a harmless force. These actions won’t harm the second parallel universe. The aliens, Estwald, and the scientists on Earth are thrilled, and Frederick is discredited. It’s a happy ending for everyone.



Tom Sharpe: Riotous Assembly

Plot summary

Kommandant van Heerden, who has risen to Chief of Police of Piemburg through his family connection with a ‘hero’ of Boer republicanism rather than merit, is called out to deal with a strange murder case involving the eccentric British spinster, Miss Hazelstone. It appears that Miss Hazelstone has obliterated her black cook ‘Fivepence’ with a quadruple-barreled elephant gun. A paradoxical anglophile, van Heerden is initially willing to brush the incident under the carpet, until Miss Hazelstone reveals that she and the cook were former lovers sharing a penchant for transvestism and rubber fetishism.

In his panic to stop the truth getting out, van Heerden places Miss Hazelstone under house arrest, calling in all reinforcements available in order to quarantine the area and places his assistant, the profoundly stupid and bloodthirsty Konstabel Els, on guard, carrying the same elephant gun. The chaos that follows turns a potentially sensitive political scandal into a full-blown catastrophe, one that van Heerden, his deputy Lieutenant Verkramp and Els must resolve to uphold the ‘honour’ of Piemburg and apartheid.

(source: Wikipedia)


Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger

Plot summary

Balram Halwai narrates his life in a letter, written in seven consecutive nights and addressed to the Chinese PremierWen Jiabao. In his letter, Balram explains how he, the son of a puller, escaped a life of servitude to become a successful businessman, describing himself as an entrepreneur.

Balram was born in the rural village of Laxmangarh, where he lived with his grandmother, parents, brother and extended family. He is a smart child but is forced to leave school in order to help pay for his cousin’s dowry and begins to work in a teashop with his brother in Dhanbad. While working there he begins to learn about India’s government and economy from the customers’ conversations. Balram describes himself as a bad servant but a good listener and decides to become a driver.

After learning how to drive, Balram finds a job driving Ashok, the son of one of Laxmangarh’s landlords. He takes over the job of the main driver, from a small car to a heavy-luxury described Honda City. He stops sending money back to his family and disrespects his grandmother during a trip back to his village. Balram moves to New Delhi with Ashok and his wife Pinky Madam. Throughout their time in Delhi, Balram is exposed to extensive corruption, especially in the government. In Delhi, the contrast between the poor and the wealthy is made even more evident by their proximity to one another.

One night Pinky Madam takes the wheel from Balram, while drunk, hits something in the road and drives away; we are left to assume that she has killed a child. Ashok’s family puts pressure on Balram to confess that he had been driving alone. Ashok becomes increasingly involved in bribing government officials for the benefit of the family coal business. Balram then decides that killing Ashok will be the only way to escape India’s Rooster Coop. After bludgeoning Ashok with a bottle and stealing a large bribe, Balram moves to Bangalore, where he bribes the police in order to help start his own taxi business. Ashok too is portrayed to be trapped in the metaphorical Rooster Coop: his family controls what he does and society dictates how he acts. Just like Ashok, Balram pays off a family whose son one of his taxi drivers hit and killed. Balram explains that his own family was almost certainly killed by Ashok’s relatives as retribution for his murder. At the end of the novel, Balram rationalizes his actions and considers that his freedom is worth the lives of his family and of Ashok. And thus ends the letter to Jiabao, letting the reader think of the dark humour of the tale, as well as the idea of life as a trap introduced by the writer.

(source: wikipedia)


Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber


In “The Bloody Chamber” the heroine, a young pianist, marries a rich Marquis who had three earlier wives. The heroine moves to the Marquis’ castle, where she loses her virginity and finds a collection of sadistic pornography. The Marquis then gets a business call and leaves, entrusting his keys to the heroine and only forbidding her from one room. He leaves and the heroine uses the forbidden key, which leads to a torture chamber containing the bodies of the Marquis’ three previous wives.

The heroine tells a young piano tuner what she saw and then the Marquis returns. The Marquis learns what the heroine did and prepares to behead her. Just as he swings his sword the heroine’s mother appears and shoots the Marquis. The heroine inherits the Marquis’ fortune and she, her mother, and the piano tuner live happily together.

Get the entire The Bloody Chamber LitChart as a printable PDF.
In “The Courtship of Mr Lyon,” Beauty’s father seeks refuge from a snowstorm at an empty mansion. On his way out he takes a white rose and then the lion-like Beastappears. The Beast makes Beauty come to dinner, where the Beast asks her to stay with him, promising that her father’s fortunes will be restored. Beauty agrees, and she spends the days alone and the nights talking with the Beast. When her father grows rich she leaves, promising to return before winter ends. Beauty forgets her promise and only returns when the Beast is dying. She finds him in his bed and kisses his hands, and he turns into a man.

In “The Tiger’s Bride” a Russian man gambles away his daughter to a mysterious nobleman called The Beast. The Beast’s valet takes the heroine to a mansion, where The Beast wants to see her naked. The heroine refuses and is put in a room with an automaton maid. The Beast then takes the heroine on a horse ride, where he disrobes and reveals himself as a tiger. The heroine takes off her own clothes in response. Later the heroine goes to the tiger’s room, where he licks her and her skin comes off as she transforms into a tiger.

In “Puss-in-Boots,” Figaro is a clever cat whose young, promiscuous master falls in love. His desire is the young, closely-guarded wife of Signor Panteleone. Figaro cleverly unites the two lovers and he himself falls for the woman’s tabby cat. Eventually the tabby trips Panteleone so he falls to his death, and Figaro’s master and the young woman have sex next to Panteleone’s body and then get married.

In “The Erl-King,” the heroine wanders into the woods and is seduced by the Erl-King, a mysterious figure who lives in harmony with nature and has many birds in cages. The heroine learns that the caged birds were once girls, and she strangles the Erl-King and sets the birds free.

In “The Snow Child,” a Count creates a girl out of his wishes, but she pricks herself on a rose thorn and dies. He then has sex with her body, melting it.

In “The Lady of the House of Love,” a young soldier is lured into the mansion of the Countess, a beautiful girl vampire. The Countess cuts herself on some glass as she prepares to seduce and kill the young man, and he kisses her wound, making her become mortal and die. He takes a rose from her and goes off to war.

In “The Werewolf” a child travels through the forest to visit her grandmother. She is attacked by a wolf and cuts off its hand. When she reaches her grandmother’s house she finds that her grandmother is missing a hand, so the neighbors kill the grandmother.

In “The Company of Wolves” a child goes to visit her grandmother and meets a handsome huntsman on the way. The huntsman gets to the grandmother’s house first, transforms into a wolf, and eats the grandmother. The child arrives and seduces the wolf before he can eat her.

Wolf-Alice” is a girl raised by wolves. Some nuns take her in but then give her to a werewolf Duke. The Duke is wounded by a bullet and then Wolf-Alice licks his wound, transforming him into a full human.



Jay Asher: Thirteen Reasons Why


Thirteen Reasons Why follows the story of Clay Jensen, as he returns home from school to find a mysterious package on his bed. When he opens it, he finds seven cassette tapes. Upon inserting them into his family’s cassette player, he discovers were recorded by Hannah Baker, a girl that he went to school with who recently committed suicide. Her instructions are clear: each person who receives a package is one of the reasons why she killed herself, and after each person has completed listening to the tapes, they must pass the package on to the next person. If anyone decides to break the chain, a separate set of tapes will be released to the public.

The first tape is addressed to Justin Foley, Hannah’s first kiss. She addresses the first time they kissed after meeting in a playground in their town, and explains that it was nice and completely innocent. However, she also explains that Justin later bragged to his friends that more had happened in the park, and Hannah was called a slut for the rest of high school. At this point, Clay pauses the tapes and goes to his friend Tony’s house, where he borrows his portable Walkman so that he can listen to the tapes while following the locations of each of Hannah’s stories. The locations are designated on a map that she slipped into the lockers of each recipient before her death.

The second tape is addressed to Alex Standall, who compiled a list during Hannah’s freshman year that declared she had the best ass in the freshman class. Hannah explains that the title led to a boy assaulting her in the local candy store, only adding to her feelings of insecurity after being labeled a slut.

The third tape is addressed to Jessica Davis, who was a new student during Hannah’s freshman year, the year that Hannah also moved to the town. The two were introduced by their guidance counselor, who wanted to give them a support network while they adjusted to high school. Hannah never considered her or Alex Standall (who was also a new student that year) her friends, even though they hung out often at a local coffee house. Jessica and Alex dated and then broke up. After the best ass incident, Jessica was offended that Alex “chose” Hannah over her, and the two stopped talking. Jessica continued to bring up the rumors that Hannah was a slut.

The fourth tape is addressed to Tyler Down, who stalked Hannah outside of her bedroom window and took pictures of her. In addition to Tyler, however, the tape also addresses an unnamed girl who Hannah knew somewhat well, and whose help she enlisted to help catch the Peeping Tom. The unnamed girl decided to give Tyler a show, first asking Hannah to give her a back massage and then exclaiming over nonexistent sex toys that she “found” in Hannah’s drawer. Hannah felt violated by Tyler as her privacy had been infringed on, but she moves on to address the unnamed girl next.

The story of Courtney Crimsen is told in the fifth tape. She is known as a sweet, well-liked girl, a persona which Hannah explains that she fell for. Following the event with Tyler, however, Hannah began to feel ignored by Courtney, and even when Courtney invited her to a party she still felt suspicious. Courtney abandoned her at the party, and later Hannah found out that Courtney had been spreading lies about the “surprises” she’d found in Hannah’s drawer.

The sixth tape is addressed to Marcus Cooley, who Hannah matched with in a set of school Valentines. He showed up late to a date for ice cream that she organized, and then molested her in a booth at the diner where they had met.

The seventh tape is addressed to Zach Dempsey. Hannah explains that in her Peer Communications class, there was a set of bags at the back of the room where students could leave compliments for each other. After her assault in the diner, Zach comforted her. However, she later discovered that he had been removing notes from her bag. By this point, Hannah explains, she was already depressed, and that action only worsened her condition. She also explains that she wrote an anonymous note to her Peer Communications class, in which she shared that she had been feeling suicidal. No one in the class took the note seriously at all, instead thinking that it was made up for attention.

The eighth tape is addressed to Ryan Shaver, who attended a poetry class with Hannah while she was spiraling further into depression. They shared their poetry with each other, including a poem that Hannah wrote about not being able to accept herself. Ryan later anonymously published the poem in his magazine, The Lost and Found Gazette, betraying Hannah’s trust.

The tenth tape is addressed to Justin again. Hannah explains that on the night of the party, he allowed his friend to enter a room where a drunk, unconscious girl was laying and rape her. Hannah does not name the boy who committed the rape; she explains that if she named him, he would skip town and stop the chain of tapes. However, she blames Justin, to a certain extent, for allowing the boy into the room in the first place.

The eleventh tape is addressed to Jenny Kurtz, who gave Hannah a ride home the night of the party and hit a stop sign. Later, a car crash happened at the intersection, due to the stop sign not being there, and a senior at Hannah’s school was killed. The day of his funeral led Hannah to start thinking about her own funeral.

The twelfth tape is addressed to Bryce Walker, who sexually assaulted Hannah in a hot tub at the party before she left. It is on this tape that Hannah begins discussing how she planned to kill herself.

The thirteenth tape is addressed to Mr. Porter, an English teacher that filled in as a guidance counselor for a period of time at Hannah’s school. She went to him with her feelings of depression and isolation, and he did nothing to help her.

As the tapes are played, Clay walks to each location that Hannah discusses, feeling more and more distressed as he does so. By the end of the tapes, he feels changed, and the novel ends with him addressing a student named Skye, who he sees behaving like Hannah, potentially preventing another suicide.



Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita

Plot Overview

In the novel’s foreword, the fictional John Ray, Jr., Ph.D., explains the strange story that will follow. According to Ray, he received the manuscript, entitled Lolita, or the Confession of a White Widowed Male, from the author’s lawyer. The author himself, known by the pseudonym of Humbert Humbert (or H. H.), died in jail of coronary thrombosis while awaiting a trial. Ray asserts that while the author’s actions are despicable, his writing remains beautiful and persuasive. He also indicates that the novel will become a favorite in psychiatric circles as well as encourage parents to raise better children in a better world.

In the manuscript, Humbert relates his peaceful upbringing on the Riviera, where he encounters his first love, the twelve-year-old Annabel Leigh. Annabel and the thirteen-year-old Humbert never consummate their love, and Annabel’s death from typhus four months later haunts Humbert. Although Humbert goes on to a career as a teacher of English literature, he spends time in a mental institution and works a succession of odd jobs. Despite his marriage to an adult woman, which eventually fails, Humbert remains obsessed with sexually desirable and sexually aware young girls. These nymphets, as he calls them, remind him of Annabel, though he fails to find another like her. Eventually, Humbert comes to the United States and takes a room in the house of widow Charlotte Haze in a sleepy, suburban New England town. He becomes instantly infatuated with her twelve-year-old daughter Dolores, also known as Lolita. Humbert follows Lolita’s moves constantly, occasionally flirts with her, and confides his pedophiliac longings to a journal. Meanwhile, Charlotte Haze, whom Humbert loathes, has fallen in love with him. When Charlotte sends Lolita off to summer camp, Humbert marries Charlotte in order to stay near his true love. Humbert wants to be alone with Lolita and even toys with the idea of killing Charlotte, but he can’t go through with it. However, Charlotte finds his diary and, after learning that he hates her but loves her daughter, confronts him. Humbert denies everything, but Charlotte tells him she is leaving him and storms out of the house. At that moment, a car hits her and she dies instantly.

Humbert goes to the summer camp and picks up Lolita. Only when they arrive at a motel does he tell her that Charlotte has died. In his account of events, Humbert claims that Lolita seduces him, rather than the other way around. The two drive across the country for nearly a year, during which time Humbert becomes increasingly obsessed with Lolita and she learns to manipulate him. When she engages in tantrums or refuses his advances, Humbert threatens to put her in an orphanage. At the same time, a strange man seems to take an interest in Humbert and Lolita and appears to be following them in their travels.

Humbert eventually gets a job at Beardsley College somewhere in the Northeast, and Lolita enrolls in school. Her wish to socialize with boys her own age causes a strain in their relationship, and Humbert becomes more restrictive in his rules. Nonetheless, he allows her to appear in a school play. Lolita begins to behave secretively around Humbert, and he accuses her of being unfaithful and takes her away on another road trip. On the road, Humbert suspects that they are being followed. Lolita doesn’t notice anything, and Humbert accuses her of conspiring with their stalker.

Lolita becomes ill, and Humbert must take her to the hospital. However, when Humbert returns to get her, the nurses tell him that her uncle has already picked her up. Humbert flies into a rage, but then he calms himself and leaves the hospital, heartbroken and angry.

For the next two years, Humbert searches for Lolita, unearthing clues about her kidnapper in order to exact his revenge. He halfheartedly takes up with a woman named Rita, but then he receives a note from Lolita, now married and pregnant, asking for money. Assuming that Lolita has married the man who had followed them on their travels, Humbert becomes determined to kill him. He finds Lolita, poor and pregnant at seventeen. Humbert realizes that Lolita’s husband is not the man who kidnapped her from the hospital. When pressed, Lolita admits that Clare Quilty, a playwright whose presence has been felt from the beginning of the book, had taken her from the hospital. Lolita loved Quilty, but he kicked her out when she refused to participate in a child pornography orgy. Still devoted to Lolita, Humbert begs her to return to him. Lolita gently refuses. Humbert gives her 4,000 dollars and then departs. He tracks down Quilty at his house and shoots him multiple times, killing him. Humbert is arrested and put in jail, where he continues to write his memoir, stipulating that it can only be published upon Lolita’s death. After Lolita dies in childbirth, Humbert dies of heart failure, and the manuscript is sent to John Ray, Jr., Ph.D.