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Belinda Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1988
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An erotic and controversial tale of seduction and obsession from the best-selling author of Exit to Eden. 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, Belinda is a forbidden passion, both beguiling and bewitching.
Another Rice classic...fascinating...compelling! -- Village Voice
Erotic...rich...a lusty contemporary novel. -- L.A. Herald Examiner
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Yes Belinda is beautiful and young and exciting and young and charming and young and shapely and did I mention young. Jeremy Walker is a famous, middle age author of children's books and a painter, who illustrates his own books. But after he runs into Belinda he can't write anything. All he can do is work on paintings of Belinda. He is in fact obsessed with painting her without clothes.
The book starts with Jeremy observing Belinda at a book signing in a San Francisco book store and he is smitten. He has to meet her so he asks her to a publisher's party afterward. She not only accompanies him but she seduces him at the party. No doubt about it, he is a fish on the hook, trashing around on the deck. On the other hand Belinda is both secretive, uninhibited and affectionate. Eventually Belinda agrees to move in with Jeremy.
Understandably, Jeremy is very curious about Belinda's past and her family but Belinda will not discuss it. In fact, she issues an ultimatum that she will leave for good if he keeps questioning her. Jeremy keeps painting her in various nude poses and tells Belinda not to worry, no one will ever see them. Like Belinda is worried. She thinks he ought to have an exhibition.
Jeremy is not about to stop inquiring about Belinda. He's just going to be more discreet about it, so he tells his good friend and Attorney Dan the story and asks him to surreptitiously make inquiries. Dan is incredulous and tells Jeremy what he already knows. That if his affair became public, he would at least be finished as a writer of children's or any other kind of books and maybe even serve time for statuary rape, where he would get to experience forcible rape firsthand. He also queries another good friend, Alex, a famous movie star.
Little by little a picture emerges about Belinda and people are indeed looking for Belinda and the more he finds out about them, the more they find out about him, whereas this involved story gets even more involved.
Is Belinda pornographic? No, it really is a love story. Really! Ok, so it has some erotic sequences and I suppose it resembles an old man's fantasy where a rich older man takes up with a beautiful young girl but it's also real life where rich older men divorce their long time wives for young blood trophy wives. It's not exactly uncommon.
Jeremy seems to have a childish innocence about him, while Belinda is worldly beyond her years. Jeremy is a bachelor, who happens to be a nice man and Belinda sincerely likes him for it. She has had plenty of duplicity and uncaring in her childhood and she is ready for stability.
Belinda is four hundred fifty-two pages long and was well written as any of you familiar with Anne Rice/Rampling might expect. While some of her writing tends to be morbid or even bloody, there was none of that in Belinda. The sexuality that appears was in keeping with the theme of the story and tastefully done. This novel was told in three longer parts and the final shorter part. While the writing was flowing, the story was not too wordy. Descriptions were kept to a minimum and used only to enhance the story. I found Belinda to be a quick compelling read that I enjoyed and no problem recommending, especially for men on the plus side of forty
The story centers on a 44 year old illustrator, and how he falls in love/obsession with a sixteen year old female. Belinda is like no one he had ever met before. Quickly she bewitches him, and all he wants to do is be with her and paint.
There is really so much more to this novel, and I would like to go through the entire story, but I think it's best for the reader to find things out for themselves.
Honestly this is a great novel, fun to read, and there are so many twists to this novel that the reader will not see them coming!
Anne Rice is a genius, and if this novel wouldn't have been written by her, I wouldn't have read it. BUT! It is a great read, and I'm glad I read it!
Also, this version claims to contain "the complete text of the controversial original first edition." I am no expert, but other sources indicate one controversy to be the marriage of Juba (a black Jamaican servant) and Lucy (a white English farmgirl). In this version, Chapter XIX has Lucy marrying James Jackson, which reportedly distinguishes a later edition that removed the Juba-Lucy union to please Edgeworth's father.