Abducted by Circumstance
“Abducted by Circumstance is a thrilling crime story, a dark and complex psychological study, a rich contemplation on contemporary life. It is also a masterful moral drama about the centuries-old conflicts that arise from the juxtaposition of the flesh and spirit.”—Allen Wier, author of Tehano
“David Madden continues to push the envelope of literary fiction in subtle and profoundly sophisticated ways. Abducted by Circumstance is a quirky, utterly compelling novel in pieces that in its very structure speaks to the work’s twenty-first-century theme: how do we find connection in a fragmented world? In this new book Madden is at the height of his considerable power.”—Robert Olen Butler
In Abducted by Circumstance, David Madden offers his readers a unique experience simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating.
Carol Seaborg makes a risky visit in zero weather to a lighthouse near her house in The Thousand Islands of New York on the Canadian border. A self-confident, attractive woman of about 55 suddenly appears on the observation deck looking out over frozen Lake Ontario. Carol admires the woman as her ideal.
Suddenly, the woman disappears, apparently abducted by a serial rapist and killer, stimulating in Carol an immediate empathy that, enhanced by the power of her imagination, is so great as to make her unique. Carol projects her own emotions, imagination, and intellect into Glenda’s experience.
To render that empathy and imagination, Madden channels everything that the people around her say and do through Carol’s perceptions so intimately that he shifts frequently and without transition into her thoughts, which focus mostly on the abducted woman, whose name newscasters reveal is Glenda Hamilton.
As Carol imagines Glenda gradually coping with her abductor, she speaks directly, sometimes out loud, to her, encouraging her, advising her, expressing fear for her.
If Carol’s external experiences are passive almost to paralysis, her memories reveal that her life has been full of more venturesome relationships and events (she once rode across Greece alone on a bicycle) than most wives and mothers in their late thirties have. Carol’s emotions and imagination are highly charged and exquisitely presented.
The circumstances and relationships of her past and present predispose Carol to empathize with Glenda. Carol’s own life among a crude, remote second husband, a somewhat estranged adolescent son, a bright five-year-old daughter, a father who is a rather cold philosophy teacher, and the strong spiritual presence of her mother who committed suicide, is simple and routine. The events involving Glenda’s disappearance take place during the week before Carol’s second surgery for breast cancer.
Gradually, as she takes late night drives with her little girl, visits her ex-boyfriend’s father in a nursing home, drives by her ex-lover’s house and business, and visits the campus where her father is a prominent teacher, the reader realizes, some pages before Carol herself does, that she has been abducted by the circumstances of her life.
Although it is grounded in the realistic detail of everyday life, Abducted by Circumstance is unique in conception, style, and characterization. Madden immerses the reader in an extraordinarily rich and unforgettable psychological experience.
Thoroughly absorbing from start to finish, Abducted by Circumstance explores Carol’s troubled psyche with the rare precision and insight that have long distinguished David Madden’s fiction.
Since 1961, each of David Madden’s highly praised novels and two books of short stories has had some quality of uniqueness, among them Cassandra Singing, Sharpshooter: A Novel of the Civil War, Bijou, and The Suicide’s Wife. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, David Madden received the Robert Penn Warren Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.