The Yearning by Kate Belle

A quick rundown… The story of a teacher and a young girl who writes him romantic notes, ending in something unforgettable that will haunt them both.

Strengths: Very steamy in the first half, interesting look at relationships

Weaknesses: Everything slows to a point just before everything collapses (but then is back to a roller coaster pace)

Why I read it: Received a copy from The Reading Room and Simon & Schuster – thank you!

Pages: 326

Published: 2013

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Setting: Australia

Rating: 9 out of 10

It would be easy to write off The Yearning as a book in the vein of Fifty Shades given its frequent steamy sex scenes. But if you continue reading, you are rewarded with a novel that explores deeply the effect of previous relationships, the power balance between men and women and how idealism can ruin your future.

The novel begins as a new teacher, Solomon Andrews moves into a country town in the height of a hot Aussie summer. His next door neighbour, an unnamed student, watches him move in…and continues watching. At first, she is forced to by a school bully, but then watching Solomon go about his daily tasks becomes a lovesick ritual. When she witnesses an act in Solomon’s study, she decides to start sending him letters expressing her devotion and yearning for him. Solomon (who has been in some ‘trouble’ at his previous school) is entranced by the letters, being a firm believer in good sex but no love. Things start to get dangerous when he invites her inside his house – nothing stays secret in a country town for long, and nothing will be the same for either of them…

Belle evokes a hot, never-ending sense of Australian summer in the initial part of the book – the heat, cloying and unending, is almost like another character of the book. The weather acts as a force to exemplify how ‘hot’ (read: sexually attractive) Solomon is and how he sets all the women’s hearts aflutter. The sticky weather also serves to intensify the depth of our heroine’s feelings for Solomon and when things come together…BOOM! It’s like a summer thunderstorm, drenching the thirsty ground.

You might have wondered why so far I haven’t revealed the female main character’s name yet- that’s because that’s something you have to look forward to because Belle doesn’t name her until the very end of the book (I’m not telling you which page as you might cheat). I thought it was an excellent choice and brought a wry smile to my face given the events that took place. At first it seemed a bit odd that she hadn’t been named, but I got used to this – this character is (generally) an everyday woman, prone to making mistakes, having good and bad times, which made her easy to relate to (except for her initial relationship – that was unique). Her journey seems somewhat the wrong way round – from the ultimate to the mundane, but it’s an important one.

Now, what about Solomon? Even though I personally don’t care for the long hair and skin-tight jean look, not being a child of the 70’s – Belle creates a character who is hot Hot HOT! In more modern terms, Solomon is ‘sexy and he knows it’. He prides himself on giving pleasure to women when it was uncool to do so, knowing the Kama Sutra and never giving into love. This takes on a whole different twist when we find out his motivation for this, plus one of his final scenes has a pitying, almost laughable conclusion.

This book has a myriad of themes and insights into the human psyche that I could go on and on about (rather like Solomon *wink*) – please don’t dismiss it as erotica; this is an insight into human relationships (positive and negative) that should not be missed.

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