The Wood of Suicides by Laura Elizabeth Woollett

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The Wood of Suicides features the pursuit and seduction of a middle-aged high school English teacher by a 17-year-old student with father issues. Those that like a more literary read with plenty of poetry, slower moving relationships and psychological character studies will enjoy it.

Though a lot of sex happens it is not erotic, and it is not described in explicit terms.

One issue that some may struggle with is that the heroine is unlikable with literally no redeeming qualities. I suspect that she would be diagnosed as a sociopath. She is self-absorbed, vain, selfish and absolutely self-centred. You can’t even pity her since she was toxic long before her father’s death.

This is a book with literally no subplots or even reality outside the steady, relentless pursuit of a teacher by a teenage girl. Which perfectly mirrors her own obsession: nothing exists for her except her desire for this man. It is all she thinks about, all she puts any energy into. And strangely it is not much of a sexual desire – she barely enjoys sex with him at first and continually describes his body in unappealing ways.

In retrospect the ending is not very surprising and won’t make you care for the heroine any more. And if you don’t really care for the heroine, and I didn’t, you won’t particularly care what happens anyway.

That’s not to say this wasn’t an interesting and beautifully written read. It just doesn’t satisfy as a romance because you can’t empathise with the heroine, you won’t find the hero attractive, there’s no coup-de-foudre or even friendship-blossoming-into-love, just a sustained, one-sided campaign of seduction. So really it’s not very romantic at all.

It’s more like watching the iceberg approach the Titanic and slowly sink it.

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