A MUCH YOUNGER MAN by Dianne Highbridge


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The emergence of an abiding love between a schoolteacher in her 30s and the 16-year-old son of a longtime friend is the main event in this softly rendered, erotically charged debut from Tokyo-based Australian Highbridge. Hardly enamored of her work, Aly still dutifully grades her students’ papers, not even daring to think that someone might come along and change her life forever. When Tom walks down the aisle of the commuter train to sit next to her, she has trouble remembering who he is, and seeing him as the catalyst of change isn’t even a possibility—after all, he’s only 15. They continue to meet on the train, however, and by the time Tom has a birthday Aly views this tall, elegantly sculpted, sensitive, lute-playing youth as more than her professor friend Louise’s only son. When he makes a pass at her, she offers only token resistance, and before they know it they’re passionately involved. Given the age difference and her line of work, Aly is acutely aware of the repercussions should their affair be uncovered—but when the cat is finally out of the bag, the lovers are too smitten to care. He moves in with her and leaves school to get his diploma on his own, flipping burgers for money; she decides to quit teaching. Then Tom has a serious accident on his scooter, and in his weeks of convalescence his parents manage to make Aly feel guilty enough that she stops seeing him. Two dismal years pass, until the death of Tom’s grandmother, the only one to view their love as the real McCoy, provides an occasion for them to find out whether what they once had is still there. As the lovers here see nought but each other, the story sees little but them and their obsession—and in that context the heights and depths of passion and each frisson of delight are finely done.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-56947-114-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998