Taming the Beast
by Emily Maguire
Publisher; Brandl & Schlesinger/Australia/2004
Plot; Sarah Clarke is not your average fourteen year old girl. She reads books instead of gossiping, studies hard instead of shopping for makeup and she is having an affair with her thirty-eight year old teacher, Daniel Carr.
Sarah thinks she is in love, but is this affair any more than a violent manipulation by an older man?
Ten years later Sarah meets with this dark beast of her past once again and only time can tell if their once dangerous and wrong relationship will be drawn again into the hostile web of sex and reckoning.
My Thoughts; I enjoyed this book, until the end.
Maguire has a wonderful way of describing reality. Not every ones' reality involves inappropriate relations with teenagers, but people do have sex and relationships as part of their everyday lives and Maguire beautifully describes these typical happenings.
I also found pleasure in the development of the characters. This book is broken into three parts and between the first two parts there is a ten year gap. For me, this jump was the most interesting part of the book because I had already thought about what would happen to each individual character and I loved seeing how different Maguire's plans were for their futures.
The characters are very strong in this story. I will admit that I didn't find them likable, particularly Sarah Clarke, the female protagonist, but I did like watching their journey and seeing their reactions to events and emotions.
What I didn't like about this book was the ending. I don't want to give too much away, but while one aspect of the ending is quite powerful and emotional, I found the majority of the final pages to be too open and too inconclusive. They left me with a troubled feeling, questioning what is truly right and what is truly wrong.
In my opinion books either need to have happy endings, or sad endings. Uncomfortable endings are just that; uncomfortable.
Another issue I have with this book is that it, almost, glamorises the relationship between the teenage girl and her teacher. While there are no rules that say a book needs to convey a moral, and I am no prude, I just think there are some things which should only ever be communicated as wrong.
I warn you, this is not a warm and cosy read for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It is, as the blurb states, darkly erotic. This book draws you in, hooks you in and then corrupts you.
I have thought long and hard about who I would recommend this book to, and I am still stabbing in the dark. I cannot imagine this book will appeal to the majority of males, and I definitely wouldn't recommend it to a teenage girl. The only group I could really offer this book too is women who like tales which force them to question their morals and the morals of others.