“Belinda is the ultimate fantasy: a golden-haired object of desire, fresh and uninhibited. But to Jeremy Walker, a handsome and famous 44-year-old illustrator of children’s books, this incredibly seductive woman is a forbidden passion . . . because Belinda is only 16.”
I found this one day and it was being compared to a modern day Lolita, which intrigued me. I loved Lolita for a number of reasons, but this book was only connected to Lolita because the girl the main character was in love with was a minor (though she was much older than Lolita was). Because the book flap itself compared the book to Lolita, I had this in mind throughout my reading and it may have clouded my ability to see this book as anything but a failed fanfiction. So if you have not read Lolita this review may not make as much sense as many of my ideas and views are firmly planted in the “Why are you comparing yourself to a classic that was much better?” camp.
The main character was a likeable enough guy, but he seemed very flat for most of the book. It took a lot to get him from being a guy that was defined by his job which made the romance even more taboo (he wrote children’s books) to more of an anti-hero. Belinda from the beginning pursued Jeremy which makes the relationship more of a romance than a creepy affair as Lolita was supposed to be. The moral story of Lolita was that deviant sexuality was a terrible thing and you will be punished somehow for it. Jeremy was not punished instead he got exactly what he wanted due to a legal loophole that was total malarkey. There is no way that suddenly marrying the person you have been “sexually abusing” and “raping” (according to the law and many other people’s definitions of the words) makes the sex any less of a criminal act. Men have been imprisoned for raping their adult wives, so there was no reason that Jeremy was not imprisoned for legally raping his child bride.
I did like how the artist was able to deal with his issues and was able to see that Belinda was growing up. I was really fascinated by the idea that Belinda may not be as she seemed. I kept getting vibes of The Orphan. Was Belinda actually a little girl or was she really an adult that looked like a girl? I figured it would have been a cop out for Rice to say that Belinda was actually an adult, but I was really pleased with how she handled the situation of having to give Belinda a back plot that allowed her to have the relationship she had with Jeremy. It was a tragic story of a girl neglected by her famous and insane mother who was easily thrown aside until she found love with a man who had hadn’t felt anything except a drive to work. It ended up being very cute, but a very obsessive love. This does not fit with the idea of Lolita either. Jeremy and Humbert Humbert were very obsessive, but Lolita and Belinda took very different paths.
This book was a modern retelling of Lolita that took a great deal of liberties to try and make the relationship between an adult and a child seem ok. This was a change of pace. The sex scenes were short and were not graphic which made for a more comfortable read of the story, but with the plot the way it stands I wanted to be uncomfortable. It would have made for a more powerful book if the reader was made to feel as uncomfortable or as worried as Jeremy was. It would have made Jeremy seem more human and less of a character trait.
3 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book but only to people that read Lolita.
You can buy this book here.