" I need your eyes to see, your hands to touch, your spirit to acknowledge that which I hold most deeply and secretly in my heart. My yearning for you."
A shy teenage girl writes scented letters of longing to her new high school English teacher and neighbour, the handsome and charming, Solomon Andrews. From her bedroom window she watches and hopes for him to notice her.
Solomon is flattered by his young student's attention, and though wary of another scandal, he finds himself unable to resist her passionate adoration.
While Solomon justifies their affair as his "ultimate and ecstatic gift" to her, the girl believes he is her soul mate, her one and only true love.
When they are discovered and separated she clings to the to the idea that she and Solomon are destined to be together. It is a belief that she cannot relinquish, and well into adulthood the yearning for him remains.
The plot of The Yearning extends beyond the scandalous affair between a teacher and a student, even beyond the a sensual coming of age story of an unnamed teenage girl in love with with a twenty something year old man. It is a compelling exploration of the nature of love, of lust, of longing and desire and how our early experiences with these emotions affect the way in which we resolve them as adults.
For the girl - now a woman, the affair leaves her endlessly searching for a lover able to stir the same feelings within her. It's an obsession that sabotages her relationships with other men, and even when she submits to Solomon's absence and marries Max, she is not free of their decades old connection. If she can't find some way to relinquish her teenage fantasy happiness will always elude her.
For Solomon, whose introduction to sex was divorced from love or even affection, the craving for attention, physical satisfaction and control of his emotions has him at the mercy of his libido. The value of an emotional connection, love if you will, escapes him not only in his relationship with the girl but in all his relationships to follow.
Belle's lyrical prose ensures The Yearning avoids becoming a tawdry, sensationalist tale of sexual exploitation. Both Eve and Solomon are able to give voice to the motivation behind their feelings and desires. The author captures the excitement and confusion of lust and love with raw honesty. Eve's letters and diary entries are the romantic, sensual ravings of a young girl in the throes of intense infatuation. Solomon's musings, though indisputably self serving, are thoughtfully revealing. It is important to know that the descriptions of various sexual unions are at times explicit but not without purpose.
Beautifully crafted, The Yearning is an evocative, sensual novel exploring the connection between love and desire.