Have you ever read a book and soon after finishing it, realized that you should not have read it because of the horrors it can bring? I have.
Taming the Beast is not the type that wastes your time only to be forgotten; this book will tear you apart and leave you dazed and ultimately frenzied. It is much too painful and much too dark. Instead of providing something warm and tender, it gave horrors. As for me, my head was spinning in anger. Author Emily Maguire painted a love that has the ultimate power to damage; comparable to watching a train derail while you’re in it.
Sarah Clark is a young smart girl of fourteen who falls in love with her English teacher. On the side is her dutiful best friend Jamie Wilkes whose only wish is for her attention. Their lives are tangled in a muddled painful existence after Mr. Carr, their English teacher molests Sarah. Throughout Sarah’s struggle Jamie will look pass her obsessions and her complex appetite to self destruct.
Jamie knew he had to tread carefully with Sarah. Two days ago she had all but said she loved him, and he has been so elated that he pushed too far, and she freaked out and took it back. He has to remember that Sarah had never made a commitment, that she was terrified of losing her hard-won independence, and that better men that he has failed to win her. Jamie had waited for her for so many years and now that she was almost his, it was vital for him to bite down on his joy and let her take the lead.
The book explained so astutely the unadulterated reality of never getting back what you deserve and the gut wrenching reality of losing your mind after getting hurt one too many times. It also showed a picture of how depraved, sick and twisted a mind can become after realizing the sytem meant to secure proved only as a facade. Corrupt and heartbreaking, Taming the Beast is a tour deforce of raw, disturbing and difficult love story.
Throughout January and February, Jamie and Sarah saw each other as much as they ever had, but instead of watching movies or getting drunk or going out for lunch, they climbed into Sarah’s bed and stayed there until it was time for Sarah to go home. Sarah was surprised by how much she liked fucking him, but more that that she was surprised at how easily she fell asleep when he was by his side. His breath in her ear, his hand on her waist, the scent and sound of him, tranquillised her. Many times he has to wake her to tell her it was time for him to go, and she would spend the night trying without success to recapture the serenity he took with him.
I felt that the book incessantly spoke of how a warped mind can journey from falling in love with its own molester to the need to be enslaved. To conclude that the unlimited capacity of a person to go beyond disgusting in order to fill the void diminishes the journey of the three characters (Sarah, Jamie and Mr. Carr). They are more than the sum of their portrayal; they are a full thesis of their profile. Example: (1) After realizing that Mr. Carr is a paedophile and that she was actually a victim, Sarah still choses to be in love with him. (2) Jamie would allow Sarah to sleep around so she won’t think he’s clingy. As much as he hates this, he feels that it is the only way he can let Sarah see his intentions of keeping her. (3) How much Mr. Carr enjoy’s peeping at Sarah’s window while she’s with a man and soon after she is done sleeping around, he would beat her and would make her believe it was her fault.
Equally harrowing is that it can be real. The pain, the confusion, the backwardness of it all … it can be real. Love that has the power to damage and a love that can turn even the smartest of us to blind monstrosity. Both challenging and engaging, this heartbreaking novel resonates abuse over passion, tragic over control and ignorance over will.
The author was painfully reckless and the storms she puts the readers through is so satisfying you can’t help but admire the story she built. Primeval, passionate and frightening, Taming the Beast is a book that can cut.
Taming the Beast
First Novel of Australian author Emily Maguire
Published by Harper Perennial