I Have Waited, And You Have Come by Martine McDonagh
A story of survival and obsession in a world brought to its knees.
When Jez White disturbs Rachel’s solitary existence she finds herself being drawn into a murky territory somewhere between stalking and being stalked. This powerful is by turns sensual and sinister, and conjures up an all-too-believable near future – of isolated communities, wild weather and strange allegiances.
I Have Waited, and You Have Come is a character study that follows the life of a woman who shuts herself away from the world as it starts to fall apart due to global warming.
As her story unfolds, I have to admit that I found my feelings towards Rachel changing on almost a chapter-by-chapter basis. She chooses to live an isolated existence, purposefully avoiding human contact whenever possible. The relationship she had with her previous partner ended badly, and this has undoubtedly left a mark. Her increasingly fragile grasp on reality and deteriorating mental state make her come across as quite abrupt and standoffish at times. There were moments when part of me felt sorry for the situation she was in, but another part of me couldn’t help but feel that some of her problems were due to her cutting herself off from what’s left of humanity. It’s a strength of the writing, and the insight that I gained into Rachel’s character, that the author was able elicit these feelings. It’s not often I get so drawn in.
Rachel’s feelings towards Jez and vice versa have a fluid, almost ambiguous quality that allows for a lot of the interactions that occur to be open to different interpretations. Is Jez stalking Rachel? Is she stalking him? Is Rachel imagining it all? Is the whole situation nothing more than a figment of Rachel’s tortured imagination?
Though less evidence is presented, it is also clear that Jez is also suffering from the stresses of a world that that is slowly collapsing. He has his own demons and the relationship that these two share is obsessive on both sides.
This is an extremely intimate story, both characters divulge their innermost thoughts but the majority of the novel is written from Rachel’s point of view. A lot of the information that the reader discovers is learnt via her slightly skewed perspective of the world. There are however some short extracts from Jez’s diary, which offer glimpses into his mind. It is only in the final chapter that any detail of how other survivors view them both is finally revealed.
At only one hundred and seventy pages long, it’s not difficult to read the entire story in a single sitting and it is certainly compelling enough to do just that. I’m still thinking about this book days after I finished reading it. The science fiction element was the initial hook that drew me in but there is so much more to consider – the nature of obsessive behaviour, how differing perspectives can offer completely different interpretations of the same event. This is a thought provoking novel that is deceptively chilling.
I Have Waited, and You Have come is re-released on 14th February 2012 and is published by Myriad Editions.