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Innocents Paperback – August 14, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1ST edition (August 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802139272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802139276
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Was Lolita utterly cunning and "Humbert the innocent" seduced? In Australian writer Cootes provocative variation on a theme tackled many times before, the answer is a disturbing and (nearly) unequivocal yes. Cootes debut (written when she was 19) details a twisted love affair between a teenage student and teacher from the nymphets point of view. The story is written as a letter from the nameless, orphaned 16-year-old Catholic schoolgirl to her 34-year-old lover reviewing their affair and its consequences. The narrator, raised competently, albeit coldly, by her aunt and uncle, maintains a wholesome facade, behind which lies a devious imagination and utterly jaded view of human relations. With newly awakened sexual powers, she casts a spell over her defenseless unnamed teacher. I held all the aces¢youth, beauty and cuteness. The narrator becomes increasingly calculating as she tangles him in her web of sexual manipulation. I had thought there could be no pleasure more exquisite than that of seducing a shy man. But this debauching of a decent one was more compelling than anything I had ever experienced. The girls high-serious tone and overwrought language (Oh how can I begin to show you the contours of my perversion? Your exploration destroyed these lands, darling), while plausibly that of a teenager, becomes grating nonetheless, but Cootes brazen novel never falls into precocity or melodrama. The rejection of sentimentality and the carefully calibrated knowingness make this more than just another Nabokov knockoff, and mark Coote as a young writer to watch.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This book is not for everybody.
Tracy L. Brock
It became too flat and disgusting for me to identify with the speaker any longer.
Jana
This was one od the most beautifully written books that I have ever read.
Jamie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on November 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have often wondered what goes through the mind of a pedophile. Having read Innocents, I have gotten a glimpse into the mind of the aforementioned person -- from a sixteen-year-old girl's point of view. The nameless young character describes her thirty-four-year-old schoolteacher's desire for her. He is drawn to her naivete and innocence -- what he doesn't know is that she's manipulating him. Thus, making this one of the most twisted psychological novels out there.
The subject matter is deliciously dark and disturbing. The novel questions morality and innocence by making said notions seem abstract. This is one of the cleverest reads I have had in a long time.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jana on June 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Dazzling and Dark.
Two words to describe this odd story. Cathy Coote writes from the perspective of a nameless teen who seduces and manipulates her high school history teacher into a false sense of responsibility and obsession over her.
The sexual scenes in this novel are incredibly detailed and real. And my favorite motif within the novel was that of the constant symbolic comparison of the speaker to a snake. ("You battled yourself, a man wrestling a Boa Constrictor"; "Entertwined on the couch like snakes in their basket") When considering a running symbolism such as this it makes her seem so much more sinister than she admits and even prides herself in being.
However, I stopped reading about 2/3 of the way through. It became too flat and disgusting for me to identify with the speaker any longer. Eventually I picked it up again, and skimming over a few passages I reached the end and again was let down. There is merely the hint of a climax and the book drops its reader into the same pit that the personality of its characters seem to have tumbled into.
I recommend the book for its beautiful diction and description, but warn of its eventual monotany.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ivy on October 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Her writing is beautiful- and it reminds me MUCH more of Kathryn Harrison's style than of Nabakov. The fact that so many people are underating her just proves they are paying too much attention to her age and can't get back into the mindset of a teenager. The people reading it saying it left them unfulfilled are probably just angry that the heroine of the story didn't get punished. The point is that the "Lolita" in this story is just as aware of her youthfulness as the her adults are- that's not very common. She is also intent on remaining ashamed. What ties her and her lover together appears to be their dark urges. She wasn't even a character in the first chapter except for the pictures. The whole point of the book is that the main character doesn't have an identity she can feel until she tries to engorge herself into somebody.

I mean the girl even dreams of rescuing her older man from the people who have abused him!!

"Then I'd gather you to me. I'd swallow you whole. I'd absorb you into my bloodstream, and you'd circle around inside me, endlessly." Coote writes.

I think the authors choice to leave out the rest of the world and focus on the relationship, having our main character play less and less of a role in the "Real World" as time passes was a deliberate literary decision.

She has panic of a dancer twirling themselves to death... or a drunk like Cage from the movie "Leaving Las Vegas" about to drink himself to his reckless end.

This is a MUST READ.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tracy L. Brock on February 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
The language of INNOCENTS sails from high, mocking, victorious glee to the depths of self-loathing--not unlike the sixteen-year-old girl who narrates it. It is the voice of this young girl that insinuates into the reader's head, alternately attempting to seduce with her brilliance and disgust with her callous cunning. The story maps out a reverse "Lolita" arrangement, with the beautiful nymphet pulling all the strings and the hapless adult male unwittingly following after her.
This book is not for everybody. The language, in parts, grows overblown and tiresome, and the plot itself offers nothing but an endless cycle of seduction, with no development of characters, no changes. The climax rings hollow, and the ending smells faintly of the end to Fowles' THE COLLECTOR, with just the barest whiff of the cyclic quality of obsession. The seduction scenes are admirable and chilling, but the few actual plot points have an obligatory feel, "thrown in" as it were to advance the story along, with no reason or meaning behind them. In the end one is left with a numbing emptiness--not unlike the narrator herself must feel.
Don't come to this book looking for answers or insights. Ride along and allow yourself to be manipulated by the wily narrator and the very lucid, brilliant author. If Miss Coote has written a second novel, it might be very much worth seeing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By calista on October 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is not one of my favorites. The prose, while very descriptive, is often too flowery, and I feel that draws away from the plot. However...the plotline in this book is great. The book is dark, and unlike most young authors, Coote does not adhere to or fall back on tired cliches and stereotypes. I wanted to read more of this book, if only to see what could possibly come next. I find that to be a good quality. I look forward to seeing more from this author in the future.
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