A gawky teen trying to survive her parent's divorce and her young, restless English teacher find themselves drawn to each other and under increasing emotional pressure as they struggle not to cross any lines until graduation day
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An uneven, oddly paced tale of first love at a 1950s Connecticut prep school seems at times more appropriate to the YA market than to an adult audience. To the author's credit, though, protagonist Charlotte Delafield is no run-of-the-mill schoolgirl. Psychologically damaged by the volatile homelife of peculiar, neglectful parents, Charlotte decides to stay in her hometown as her mother and father's divorce disperses the family across the East Coast. Exchanging room and board for childcare duties, the 18-year-old moves in with the seemingly respectable Macreadys and enters Haddam Academy, a small, exclusive girls' school. Soon enough, Charlotte and many of the other seniors fall in love with the young English teacher Brian Parton. She in turn catches Brian's eye, and much of the story dwells on the subtle, unconscious intimacies the two develop. Brian is conflicted about his inappropriate fantasies concerning his student (imagining her naked, etc.), and though the reader can sympathize with his ethical quandary, the fact that they are close to the same age greatly lessens the mood of restriction and danger Gordon attempts to build. Meanwhile, life on Long Island Sound turns dark when Charlotte, an avid naturalist out exploring one day, is raped by Mr. Macready and suffers the emotional consequences of keeping it a secret. The pace speeds up when Charlotte is rejected by Radcliffe, blossoms in the senior play, graduates, and finally consummates her affair with Brian. The last 50 pages slow down again, though agreeably, as the polite constraints of the previous sections are left behind to describe, in rather touching scenes, the romance the two share. The concluding chapters display real talent, offering an emotional immediacy the rest of the novel lacks. An unspectacular debut, but Gordon is clearly a writer with promise. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
A Victorian book about Victorian books, with the same themes: desire, blackmail, and society's taboos. Charlotte Delafield, still reeling from her parents' recent divorce, is sent to the Connecticut side of Long Island Sound to attend Haddam School, a tiny, well-respected but not well-known or well-funded prep school. She falls in love with poetry and the man who teaches it: her English teacher, Brian Parton, a vital young poet on a faculty of old curmudgeons. Because Brian lives near Charlotte's host family, he gives her a ride to school each morning, and soon falls for her, too. The teachers, students, and local community lobby for and against their growing love. When Charlotte's father helps the school financially, characters' ulterior motives are bared. Charlotte and Brian avoid a taboo-violating relationship all school year, but then comes graduation. Although this first novel occasionally attributes 1990s responses to 1950s characters, it reminds us why we love Victorian books, why we love poetry, and why we love. Kevin Grandfield
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Book Description G K Hall & Co, 1997. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0783882955