The suspense novel, You Belong to Me, byMary Higgins Clark, begins by easily catching my interest as it automaticallydiscusses its first conflict. Its setting falls in October in the very busy city ofNew York. The protagonist, Dr. Susan Chandler, is a young clinical psychologistwho hosts a radio talk show.
The conflict starts on a Monday when Dr. Chandlerdiscusses on her show about lonely women who disappear and who are laterdiscovered dead. Dr. Chandler brings up one specific case of a lady namedRegina Clausen. Another lady calls in the show and says she might have someinformation that might be useful to the case, but she wants to remainanonymous. Dr. Chandler tries to arrange a meeting with her, but theanonymous woman is a little hesitant in agreeing to the arrangement. Not evena few hours later, the woman is shoved into a bus and is seriously injured.
Theonly witness that saw her get pushed is mysteriously murdered the next day. Dr. Chandler starts following the case, but every time she goes to talk tosomeone that might be able to give her some information, they are alreadydead. This beginning conflict filled with mystery and suspense lures me to keepreading and I realize I cannot stop turning the novels pages.
Also, as I wasreading, I noticed an object that has been frequently mentioned: a souvenirturquoise ring with the inscription you belong to me written in it. This souvenirring has been Dr. Chandlers one and only clue to the mysterious deaths ofRegina Clausen and the witness, and the critical injury of the mysterious womanon the talk show. Dr. Chandler has been told that the unique ring was given toRegina Clausen on a cruise ship she was on before she mysteriously died. Anidentical ring was also given to the mysterious woman on the radio show whosays that it was also given to her on a cruise ship.
The woman says a man shemet on the ship gave it to her; a man she was about to get off the ship andelope with. Dr. Chandler believes that the man who gave the ring to theanonymous woman is the same man who gave an identical ring to ReginaClausen, and this same man is the man that murdered Regina Clausen. Theturquoise ring being mentioned is an obvious symbol of something in the novel. Right now, I think the ring could be a symbol of death, but its too early in thenovel to make that assumption.
I feel there is a strong connection between Dr. Susan Chandler and I. Dr. Susan Chandler lives a very personal life, but also hasan occupation that she holds very important to her. She has an older sister anddivorced parents who all love her dearly, although there are daily familydilemmas she must deal with. Dr. Chandler copes with her personal problems ina way that inspires me to face and deal with my problems the same way. Shedoes what she loves to do and doesnt let anyone get in the way of heraspirations. Dr. Chandler is the ideal person I wish to become, and I feel thatthe more I understand her character, the bigger chance I have in becoming thetype of person I wish to become.
The writing style Mary Higgins Clark uses is what really shinedin this book. She uses such vivid wording, which is significant to unsolving themystery. I love how she packs tons of figurative language and detail into everyparagraph. Below are just a few of the thousands of vividly effective phrases inClarks novel:She loved the mix of turn-of-the-century townhouses on quietstreets, and the traffic-filled main arteries that suddenly twisted or changeddirection like streams wandering through mountains. (page 105)Just in thisone quote, it shows how Mary Higgins Clark uses vivid wording, such as detailsand similes and metaphors, to let the reader picture the whole scenario as if theywere watching a movie.
Tiffany, I wish youd call me at my office, Susan saidhurriedly, then had a sense of dj vu. Hadnt she spoken those same words toCarolyn Wells forty-eight hours earlier? (page 134) Carolyn Wells was theanonymous woman on the radio show Susan talked to right before she waspushed into a bus and almost died. This foreshadows Tiffanys death, becauseCarolyns near-death started as those same exact words were spoken toher he had heard the story of a woman who confessed tospreading scandal and was told that as her penance she was to cut open afeather pillow on a wind-swept day, then retrieve all of the feathers that werescattered. When she said that it was impossible, she was told that it was just asimpossible to find and correct all the people who had heard her liesBut nowhe thought of the feather pillow story in a different context. Pieces wereescaping from the scenario he had planned so carefully.
The gnome. He was safe from Hilda Johnson. Butthe other three were still like feathers in the wind. (page 141)In just these twoparagraphs, there is flashback, a simile, symbolism, and foreshadowing. Themurderer, who is he in these paragraphs, has a flashback of a story he hadheard when he was a child. This story ties to the problem he is dealing withnow. He realizes that the feathers in the wind that the woman tried to retrieveare a similar type of feathers that has scattered in his life.
The simile used inthe end of the second paragraph shows that the people that know too muchabout the murders he committed are symbols of the feathers in the wind. These two paragraphs foreshadow that the murderer will never get away withwhat he did, because as the woman said, it was impossible for her to retrieve allof the feathers; therefore, showing that its clearly impossible for also themurderer to retrieve all his feathers. Thus, at least one of the feathers islikely to find and bring out the truth, leading to the murderers defeat.
I have encountered many surprises while reading this suspensefulnovel. One surprise was in chapter 35 when Dr. Susan Chandler found outherself some surprising information. She was researching online about apsychologist, Dr. Richards, whom she has been working with and came acrossinformation about his past.
It said that he had spent a year working on around-the-world ocean liner as assistant cruise director, and that his favorite shipwas the Gabrielle. This information surprised both Dr. Chandler and I, becausethe Gabrielle is the same cruise ship that Regina Clausen was on when shedisappeared. This surprise led me to believe that Dr. Richards could be themurderer of the several crimes committed. I remember being confusedtwo separate times when reading the novel.
The first time was on page 179when the narrator was describing the murderers thoughts: He knew that oncethat was accomplished, the terrible burning inside him would go away, andfinally he would be freefree to become the person his mother had alwaysbelieved he was capable of being. I was a bit confused when reading this line,because I didnt know what his mother believed he was capable of being, andwhy he would be what he was capable of being after he accomplished themurder of his last victim. I just didnt understand what type of person hewanted to become.
Also, another part that I found tobe confusing was at the last few lines of the book: They looked at each otherfor a moment, then Susan smiled at him, and he put his arm around her. Itseemed to both of them that it was the natural thing for him to do. I know thatthe last few lines in every book are one of the most significant in the book, but Ijust didnt understand the significance of the lines at the end of this book. Imustve forgot or overlooked a key point in the novel that tied to these last fewlines that wouldve explained the significance.
The symbol of the souvenir ring Italked about in the first entry has developed in the middle portion of the book. Inow understand what connection there is between the inscription on the ringsand the murders. The inscription, you belong to me, is also the title of a songwith lyrics containing phrases such as, See the pyramids along the Nile, Watchthe sunrise on a tropic isle, See the marketplace in old Algiers, Fly the oceanin a silver plane, and See the jungle when its wet with rain. These lyricphrases, used by the murderer, are the soul key in finding where all of thedisappeared women are.
The murderer decided that this private joke of hiswould be his brilliant plan to link all of his murders together. Also, theassumption about the symbol of the ring I made in the first entry has beenclearly evident and somewhat proven in the middle of the novel. On page 158,Tiffany, a waitress who had also been given a turquoise ring, said, Lousy ringbrought be nothing but lousy luck. This statement is further proven when noteven 6 hours later, she is murdered. I found this ring of death to be thestrategic connection between all of the murders and probable murders andattempted murders.
Finding whom thetrue murderer was and putting him behind bars resolved the major conflict of thenovel. It surprised me to find out who the murderer actually was, because hewas the person I least expected. This indeterminate ending led into the climaxof the novel, which was when the murderer, the guy Dr. Susan Chandler wasdating, tries to suffocate her and leaves her to die.
Another doctor friend ofSusans has also been paying attention to the case though, and he is worriedabout something happening to Susan. He finds her in her office before shesuffocates, and they are able to have the police arrest the murderer before hedoes any more damage. This great sigh of relief led Susan to think, It allstarted so innocently. I had intended only to raise the issue of how lonely,unsuspecting women, despite their intelligence and apparent sophistication, canbe lured into dubious and sometimes fatal relationships by men who prey onthem (page 316).
This sentence clearly states the theme of the novel. I thinkMary Higgins Clark is trying to send an implicit warning to people in vulnerablesituations to be more aware and trust their own instincts. More symbols arosetowards the end of the novel. Another symbol were the cruise ships themurderer went on, because each new harbor signified an end of the journey forsomeone; someone he would kill. It was ironic at the end when, at the dock thekiller was waiting at, the cops arrested him, making it the end of the journey forhim. You Belong to Me is a twisting and interesting novel that I thoroughlyenjoyed. With lots of characters, this story left me guessing whom the murdererwas until the end.
This is a book that I wasnt able to put down until I knewwhat the title of the book really meant to the story. Although I felt the endingwas hurriedly finished in a page or two, it was definitely a book worth reading.