This reading group guide for The Yearning by Kate Belle includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
It’s 1978 and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive. Solomon knows he must resist, but he has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, she turns up unannounced and they must make a decision where the consequences will haunt them until they meet again twenty years later.
A new voice in Australian writing captures perfectly the tumult of being young and in love with the wrong man, at a time when the whole world was changing.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What are the important power relationships in The Yearning?
2. Who holds the power in Eve and Solomon’s relationship and why?
3. The main female character anonymous until the very end of the story. Why?
4. Do Eve’s and Solomon’s expectations of love change over time?
5. Who seduces who in the beginning of the novel? And at the end?
6. Each of the main characters cross moral boundaries in their relationships with each other. What drives them to do this ?
7. Does Eve’s age as the affair with Solomon begins make a difference to the emotional, social, moral and legal boundaries affecting it?
8. The affair takes place in a small country town in the late 1970’s, a time when these types of relationships were more hidden and potentially more common. How have social and cultural attitudes to these types of relationships changed?
Would the relationship between Eve and Solomon be viewed differently if their genders were reversed?
9. What do each of the characters learn in the end?
10. What relationships are redeemed by the end of the novel?