Kimberley's Reviews > Taming the Beast

Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire
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May 04, 12

bookshelves: grown-up-only, it-s-on-my-shelf-may-read-again, read-2012, as-part-of-a-challenge
Read from April 10 to May 04, 2012

** spoiler alert ** There are many words to describe this book, brutal, disturbing, truthful and honest are only a few that spring to mind.

Emily Maguire has approached and tackled a taboo subject head on and should be commended for her efforts.

Part one of this book takes place while our main character is 14 and still at school, this is where her relationship begins and the her sexual desires are molded. Sarah comes across as an intellegent girl but in a way this makes her seam older than she actually is, then her family is introduced and you understand why this is. The descriptions of her molestation by her teacher, Mr Carr, are not as graphic as I expected from reading other reviews but were enough and dealt more I felt with the pychological aspect than the physical, both being as important as the other. In those first chapters I found myself wondering why no-one intervened, even when she told her best friend Jamie about everything, a boy who seemed so level headed and caring but let it carry on because her friendship meant more than his knowledge that what was going on was wrong. Even in the first part of this book there was the element of S&M although compared to the latter part of the book this was quite tame. At the end of the first part of the book it was already plainly obvious that Sarah was on a very dangerous path of self destruction, she had tasted an element of life and was addicted to the natural high in the same way a drug addict is addicted to the high from their chosen substance.

The second part of the book is when Sarah has, along with her friends, finished high school and is in college, there are references to the fact that she left home before finishing high school and was working hard to put herself through college, she wanted to make something of her life and she wasn't afraid of working hard to get it, but she was also still looking for her natural high of what she had felt when she had been with Mr Carr and it was unattainable with anyone else. She has many sexual partners, uses drugs, smokes and drinks to excess. She is still very much in contact with Jamie who looks out for her, she loves him as a friend but his love for her is more but unrequited, all the way through he is there to pick up the pieces when things go wrong, basically keeping her alive and praying that someday she will ask for help for her self harm to stop but sadly other things happen. Jamie has to get married when he gets a girl pregnant, even on his wedding day he can't get Sarah out of his system and their adhoc sexual encounters continue, she also has another friend, Mike, he is older but he too is now watching out for Sarah although this comes more for his own sexual gratification rather than actual love. All through this section Sarah's attitude towards people is selfish and hurtful but it shows how strong her friendships are with the people who really care for her are.

The third part of this book is set 8 years after the first part of the book, Mr Carr returns and Sarah's life is once again turned completely on it's head. Mr Carr and his wife are now divorced and he has come back for Sarah, their relationship starts with him saying that this time he wantsd to do things right and you wonder if by this he means that the violence will stop but it doesn't, he has Sarah review her time without him and we get the full story of why she left home and the relationship with her parents degraded to nothing, he knows how to play and control Sarah but she knows his game, knows what he is doing and why but she still goes along, lets him into her body and mind at a level few people can comprehend, they finally move in together but this comes at a cost, he forbids her to ever see Jamie again, she has one week to pack up her flat and say her goodbyes, right to the end Jamie still pleads and tries to save her from what he believes to be a situation that could potentially kill her, Jamie's own downward spiral has sadly begun, all he wants to do is the right thing by his friend and the woman in his heart but he is aware of what is expected of him as a husband and father, their goodbye is truely heartbreaking but not how Sarah wanted it. Starting her new life with Mr Carr is eye opening, centres on both their insatiable sexual appetites for that natural high and how they have to push further and further to achieve it but on the other side, something I haven't seen anyone refer to is the trust they have in each other to do the extreme acts that they subject each other too, the first act alone seems extreme but as the story continues is quite tame in comparisson, describing being bound, drugged, drunk and oxygen play, even though it is stated that Mr Carr payed a lot to learn to do this technique properly it scared me that there was no mention of a safe word, everything that was done was done entirely on trust alone, as things progress it is the same with the mind games.

The last part of the book is set just over a year after Sarah and Mr Carr move in together and Sarah goes to see Jamie at work, her physical state has deteriorated to a state that is extremely concerning but so has Jamie's mental state, despite her saying she is happy and in love and she concents to what is being done to her it is literally breaking his heart, they make love in his office and it comes across that Sarah concents to it as it was how they should have said goodbye before, they both still love each other but not in the same way, from there Sarah feels like she can't go home so she goes to see Mike and his wife but finds they are now seperated. While there Mike receives a phone call to say that Jamie is dead, though no details are given by the author, the impression from his mental state I get the impression that he committed suicide, Sarah is destaught at the funeral and only after that and another night at Mikes place does she return to Mr Carr.

The last part following Jamie's death to me felt rushed compared with the rest of the book, there is no mention of how Mr Carr reacted to Sarah staying away for a couple of days, whether he comforted her at her loss or punished her for going against his wishes and we are left wondering if their relationship continues on it's current path which from my eyes at least I feel will result in one or both of them dying.

It was a difficult read in places but I'm not sorry I read it, it was a powerfully raw book and a love story in a way, albeit unconventional and twisted but in the end Sarah ended up with the person she loved despite the cost in all aspects of her life and others being so high.

Would I recommend this book? yes but with a warning that it's a hard book, if you don't like honesty on a subject it may be better to avoid.
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05/01/2012 page 90
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