I finished this book days ago, and I have been trying to figure out what I might write about it ever since.
I had not read this author before, I had no idea what to expect. I saw that she had written a few books, so she is an established author and I saw quite a few mentions of another novel Gemmell wrote called The Bride Stripped Bare, which looks quite good and one that I will have to find.
The first few chapters in the book, we find that the main character is a woman headed toward forty, has a husband and 3 boys. She grew up in Australia and now lives in London with her husband & family. She can't find time for herself, hates the school mom who brags about her children, has no really close friends to talk honestly with. Sex with her husband is now a memory, he falls asleep on the couch most nights..nothing surprises me here. I had four kids myself and your kids are your life when you decide to have them...so I wondered if this book was going to be anything that I would want to keep reading. The main character, who remains nameless ( the funny thing is, I didn't realize it until I started to write my review and couldn't recall it) keeps remembering in bits and pieces , a former lover. Ah ha !
Her mom dies when she is young and she is alone with her dad. They are close, but he is not a talker or anyone who shows her a lot of affection. She gleans from him what she can...he teaches her to change a tire, work with tools, fix things that get broken...a real tomboy. He finally remarries and the new wife wants to erase all memory of her mother from the house. She gets sent off to boarding school and becomes an exemplary student. She also gets involved with a young artist who ends up near raping her. Welcome to your first sexual experience.
On one summer school vacation, she was about seventeen, she is out riding her bike and comes upon on old , run down mansion.The gate is open and in she goes. She is looking through the windows and sees someone, a man working at a desk. She takes off but comes back the next day...and the next day...finally getting discovered. She & and the stranger, Tol, begin a kind of friendship..she strikes a bargain with him. She will do some repairs to his house, if he will educate her. Teach her about the world, outside of the Australian bush. Tol is older than she is, although you never know how much. He is an author trying to write his second book. He is a loner and eccentric....and he is fascinated by her youth, her naivety and her boldness. She is fascinated by his knowledge of a world different from her own. She eventually asks him to teach her about sex, she didn't want her bad first experience to lead to more bad experiences, or no experiences at all.
Well, I can not even begin to tell you what happens that summer. The sex and the teaching of it, is like daydreaming some erotic fantasies. She falls in love with him, thinking constantly of him and being close to him. And then he goes away.....and she is left heartbroken and confused for years. Until she meets her husband and "settles" down. Eventually, she comes to terms with her old relationship with Tol, which helps her re-new the ailing relationship with her husband.
I must mention here, that every woman I know is trying to get their hands on Fifty Shades. I read a sample few chapters, and the book was so poorly written that I knew I would never read it. I can now say that I had my cake & ate it too, with Gemmell's book. Well written, erotic, and recommended.