Monday, January 24, 2011

Perv Pack Pick: The Art Teacher by Spanglemaker9


The Perv Pack Pick is...
Title: The Art Teacher
Author: Spanglemaker9
Chapters: 8
Words: 51,189
Reviews: 2949
Summary: He gave me art and words and passion and life, but all I wanted was him.

Chele - It takes something pretty special for me to swoon all over an Edward/Bella fic, so let me just say, The Art Teacher, is pretty fucking special.

Spanglemaker9 does a masterful job of letting us into Bella’s head, showing us her misery at always feeling entirely other among her peer group and her resentment of privilege without making her seem pathetic or ungrateful. Bella is bright, intense, and strong in a world of vacuous self-absorption. She endures the isolation of feeling no true connection to the life she leads, until the day Edward walks in to teach her art class, and infuses her world with passion and substance.

The chemistry between Edward and Bella is incendiary. The Art Teacher is one of those rare AH stories which makes me believe in their connection with the same intensity of canon. Instead of the supernatural call of her blood, it is the human connection of two souls who find their perfect match while drifting in a sea of desperate emotional isolation. I’m thrilled by their discovery of each other, and enthralled by the way their worlds are enriched by each other’s simple truths. The visceral reactions she has to his art inspires him to create something worthy of the beauty he sees in her. His passion for her simply brings her to life. She blooms under the light of his enamoring gaze.

See? I totally swoon.

There is pleasure, temptation, and pain, as you can expect from a love which begins between a student and her teacher; but their connection is undeniable, and will not be ignored, or forgotten. I’m holding faith that Spanglemaker can get these two to a place where they can truly experience the full joy of each other’s love. However, I trust that even without a happily ever after, she will do what is right for these characters, and tell their story as it needs to be told. That is the mark of a great writer, and The Art Teacher, is a great story.

Emmy - I have yet to read a story by Spanglemaker9 that is NOT top-notch. She writes everything with a delicate intensity which makes every story an absolute delight to read. But. And this is a big but(t) for a tragic WussPerv such as myself - she is not afraid of making her characters work for their happiness. Of making their journey realistic and of making their love worthy and worth any heartache.

So go into this, and any of her brillo stories (that I have read) aware that its not an easy path to love or to happiness. Once you have this licked though, you are completely set. Spangle is going to take you on one hell of a journey.... I should also preface my review by saying that I am currently demonstrating a holding position on this fic, my fellow Perv’s are reading for me and letting me know when its safe for me to resume reading - I managed to read Spangle’s angsty The Wedding Party all the way through in time with her posting schedule, but for some reason have just wimped out a wee bitty on this one. I read up until my WP heart failed me! lol. BUT - that is not a reflection of how much I love what I have read or how good Spangle’s writing is. Email’s normally ping about back and forth as each chapter gets posted and inbetween The Perv’s enthusing, Jeanne takes pity on me and reluctantly tells me - ‘its not quite safe yet for you Emmy!’ Lol.

To me this story is a story of longing, not just longing for someone - not just Bella longing for Edward or for Edward longing for Bella - although read this:

As I pass Edward, I feel the tips of his fingers brush my arm through the sleeve of my dress.

"Hi," is all he says, but it's enough to throw me into a near-meltdown. I don't say anything in return, or even look at him.

Two sentences. How can two sentences say so fucking much? Wow.

So where was I? Yes - the theme of longing is central to this story to me. Both Bella and Edward are longing for more than just love or indeed intimacy and sex from one another. They are both longing for different lives.

I love the intensity of this story oh so much. It blazes through in every chapter. Gah. Plus being an honest whore-bag here - ArtistWard is proper-fit! Absolutely delish, every eeny-weeny bit of his chapter time is heat filled even if he is doing nothing. So even if a beautifully written, absorbing, engaging and burning story is not for you, read it for a very sexy ArtistWard battling against his own desires and circumstances to do right by his privileged, once-pupil Bella. **gulps**

Jeanne - There is nothing new about the alluring taboo of a romance between a teacher and student. Many of us remember what it was like to be young, and meeting older more sophisticated adults (men and women) that left us starstruck. Sometimes those feelings transformed into attraction and even a crush. Romantic fiction often allows us to live out those fantasies in a safe environment of make believe.

The Art Teacher at first appeals to this laden desire, but it takes a sharp turn from many other stories of this kind by giving us a complex, and rather mature protagonist in Isabella Dwyer. This is Bella Swan’s public face in this new (All Human) world that Spanglemaker9 has created. Here our plain, small town girl is in the extravagant, overwhelming world of New York City’s rich and wealthy. Bella’s mother is married to Phil Dwyer, a rich and successful businessman that is their families’ anchor in this society of appearances and materialism.

I am a lucky girl.

The first line of this story, and the first words that Bella conveys to herself in the narrative of this story are a lie. That simple lie that she tells herself everyday sets the foundation for the entire world that Bella is in at the beginning of the story. Everything in her life is based on this lie, and while she is aware of it, she is passive about until she meets her new art teacher, a passionate and talented painter named Edward Cullen.

On the surface, The Art Teacher is about a romance that slowly blossoms between a student and her teacher, but underneath that thin veneer this story is about two people that discover a very real, intense soul connection at the most inopportune time in both their lives, and how that connection forever changes Bella.

Spanglemaker9 takes great care in showing the development of their friendship and attraction; allowing Bella to fool herself about the strange looks, and reactions Edward has toward her. After all, it’s easy to dismiss the idea that a gorgeous artist, would ever be interested in a teenage girl, when he’s surrounded by wealthy attractive older women. While Bella doesn’t see it, we (the readers) witness how Edward struggles to maintain his distance and professional face when thrown together with this intelligent, and enthusiastic girl that has a intuitive understanding of art.

Their passion for artistic expression is the connection that helps bring them closer, and it also makes a lush backdrop to this beautiful story. Often while reading, I found myself stopping to look through my art books, and wishing that I have a print of Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia. It is the first painting that Bella responds to in the story and it is a very powerful and moving art piece, that I have always loved.

The way that Bella expresses how this painting makes her feel was a revelation for me while reading this story. It elevated this story beyond fan fiction into a story that has captured my heart and mind. I check the updates not just to find out what will happen next in the couple’s romance? but more importantly what will happen in BELLA’S story, because she is at the heart of this tale.

It’s sad to say that in a fandom filled with talented women, that this is one of the few, well written stories that is about a young woman’s journey through self discovery and finding love. That’s what I treasure the most about this story, and I think you’ll feel that way too if you give it a chance.

Jen - How can I express how delicious the writing in The Art Teacher is? How ‘bout this: Spanglemaker9 is able to make cleaning a scraped knee sexy and filled with more UST than some people see in a lifetime. Seriously, how can you make swabbing some iodine on a cut so hot? On top of that, Spanglemaker9 crams so much into every chapter. These are not long chapters, but you’ll never feel wanting at the end of a chapter. She’s not writing to reach a word count; there are no superfluous words here.

The tension builds from the first chapter, when Isabella, as she’s called by most people in this story, meets Edward. He’s the instructor of the new Art Appreciation seminar at her swanky private school. Edward is gorgeous, so she’s as interested in checking him out as all the other girls in the class are. Isabella is caught in his gaze a few times, and isn’t quite sure what Edward might be thinking when he sees her. She’s unexpectedly taken by the subject matter, and what looking at paintings makes her think about herself.Spanglemaker9 introduces a recurrent element of the fic: Isabella is living what many would call a charmed life, but she’s not very happy at all.

So, back to the sexy first aid. Edward is cleaning Isabella’s knee in the tiny bathroom of his apartment during a blackout.

"I shouldn't cover it up while it's damp," he says absently, still staring at the scrape like he's afraid to look away. And I'm still staring at him, because I can't not. Then he leans forward a little, purses his lips, and blows on my knee. I suck in my breath and hold it, biting my lips to keep back the sounds I want to make. His breath is warm, so warm, but the skin along my legs breaks out with goosebumps anyway. I'm almost shaking.

Holy shit. A brief, yet scorching hot, make-out session follows. Just as quickly, it’s over. Not just the make-out session, but the relationship: Edward skips town. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was completely gobsmacked by this, as well as by what the next chapter. Isabella gets through the next four years of her life, but she’s always thinking of Edward. Her longing is visceral in the chapters where Edward is not present, and somehow the intense UST is maintained even without Edward’s presence.

Now that I’ve had a day to recover from the shock that the last chapter gave me, I am eager to see how Spanglemaker9 ties together the overarching themes that explore the nature of happiness and how that intersects with money and power. At this point we don’t know if Edward and Bella will ever solidify their undeniable attraction and connection into something permanent and lasting. The UST, the kisses, and yes, the sex that have happened thus far have me yearning for at least one more encounter.

Jess - If it’s one thing I love, it’s a story full of tension. I love the questions that abound about what could be if only. To me, The Art Teacher is full of just those questions. What if your life was different than it was? What if you could have someone who seemed forbidden? What if you did what you wanted to do instead of what your family or society or whomever wanted you to do? What if you weren’t engaged to a man you didn’t love? What if the one person who had haunted your thoughts for years, the one person you’d fantasized about endlessly, the one person who had broken your heart even though he didn’t know it, returned? Those are some of the many questions that Spanglemaker9 plays with in The Art Teacher. She has masterfully crafted a story so rich visually, with so much tension that it is almost painful (in a good, squeeze your legs together, heart clenchy, stomach twisting sort of way).

This is the story of a high school Bella whose mother, Renee, is married to one of the city’s most wealthy and influential men. Renee left Bella and Charlie long ago, but Bella finds herself back living with her mother. With that move comes all of the expectations one might expect a young girl whose mother is living to impress and prove her worth. Bella is like a fish out of water, never fully taking to the life of the extremely wealthy. As a student at one of the most prestigious private schools, Bella is exposed to some of the best teachers... and some of the, erm, more unique opportunities. Enter Edward, aspiring artist and exclusive Art Appreciation teacher.

The connection between these two is immediate and intense. From their first moments in class to their visit to an art gallery to the Met and the subsequent blackout that sends them to his apartment, you feel the draw, the energy buzzing between them. Yes, it’s sexual, but it’s also intellectual. Their talk of art and meaning and depth is rich and full.

"Mm-hmm. The color. All that stuff you just said about the color defining the subject. It's so much like your work. The color makes me feel the same way."

Edward chuckles a little at my side. "I think that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about my work."

"Come on, Edward. I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm just telling you the first thing I noticed. It's not like what I say matters."

"That's exactly why what you say matters." he says, his voice pitching up with excitement. "Your impressions are pure instinct. There couldn't be a more honest reaction to a work of art. That means more to me than all the pretentious art critic reviews in the world."

"Stop," I say, looking at my feet and trying to fight my smile.

"Hey, I mean it," he says softly, all exuberance forgotten. "Don't sell yourself short, Isabella. What you have to say really matters."

I look up to say something to him, but once my eyes meet his, I forget the words. All that's left is that energy again. But now we're so close in this nearly deserted gallery and his hand is still resting on my shoulder. Now I'm not just his student and he's not just my teacher. There's no point in trying to pretend otherwise. We're in some new place, where the playing field has been leveled.

His eyebrows draw together, that intense, almost-angry face I remember from the first day of class. He looks confused. He looks overwhelmed. He looks how I feel.

Edward’s art, so vibrant and alive with color, provides a beautiful visual of his soul. Of course, life and the added complication of being a starving artist put Edward in a place where he is beholden to the elite people Bella finds herself longing to disconnect from. The assumptions and realities that they face as a result pushes them apart in the worst possible way. It is gut-wrenching and so, so sad (def not WP-approved), but there’s hope as Spanglemaker9 shows how their time apart is full of personal growth and development.

There is much to see and feel as you read this story. We’re in a slightly dark space, but Spanglemaker9 has assured us that the story is complete and we won’t be waiting long. If you haven’t started reading this, give it a go. You will love the splash of color and the abundance of tension in all its forms.

Kitty - Okay, first and foremost, I need to state that I am a VERY hard sell when it comes to my reading. Yes that’s right, Kitteh is REDONK picky, so for something to snag me so fucking hard that I read it all the way through in one sitting says a lot. I’m not shitting y’all, I started and didn’t stop until I got to the end. I devoured this mofo like a fiend!

I love the tension between Bella and Edward. It starts from the first instant they are in the same room together and it builds so deliciously and perfectly that you can feel it in your spine as you’re reading. And when the tension snaps, dear fucking LORD! Hold onto something, or find a belt or leather strap to bite on cause I about lost my damned mind with that shit!

Another thing I really liked about this was that I didn’t feel like Bella was the run of the mill Bella. She’s basically thrust into a life she doesn’t want nor does she really belong in, but you get the feeling that she doesn’t know how to get out of it either. It truly made my heart ache for her on so many levels, which is where I was left at the end of the latest update, in the fetal position in the corner, heartclenching and crying and my wee little kitteh heart bleeding all over the place.

Hold me *snuggles into the collective bosom of my fellow Pervs*

Teal - If you’ve been around the fandom long enough, you know there are a lot of good stories out there, as well as really good authors. What sets Spanglemaker9 apart in our ever-growing community is that she’s not just a good writer, but a great storyteller. More than that, she has a consistent record of creating well loved Edward/Bella fics, and it’s for good reason that her readers love her so much (aside from the fact that she’s also a total sweetheart).

In The Art Teacher, we’re introduced to a very Gossip Girl/Cruel Intentions kind of world. It’s all disgustingly privileged Upper East Side teens and their bad habits. But Bella stands out from the crowd. Sure, she’s done her fair share of participating in the debauchery, but she says up front that she feels as though she’s outgrown it. Much like canon Bella, this characterization is beyond her peers in many ways, yet she still retains many aspects of the naivete that make up a high school girl.

Enter Edward, an alluring artist who not only catches Bella’s attention but also sparks new life in her as she discovers through his art seminar that she has quite the eye and appreciation for the arts. As the class progresses and she delves deeper into her new found passion, things get even more complicated with Edward. Though he’s only just a recent college graduate and not too much older than Bella, he’s off limits for a plethora of reasons. Her status, his position, and the thing that upsets Bella the most -- the relationships Edward appears to keep with some affluent older women in the community. As in, Edward is “kept.” Yeah, not such a pretty thought.

As it goes, things get twisted and complicated, and for a while, quite heartbreaking. Where the story stands now, there are some circumstances that may be difficult to overcome, but like I said before, Spanglemaker9 always comes through. If you can see past the drama and the touch of angst in this story, you’ll understand the strategic and well-paced character development this author has been formulating all along. Despite the fire that burns between Edward and Bella, and quite possibly an unspoken love they feel for one another, they’re not on the same level in their work, personal, or social lives. Until they can get there, what they have cannot be more that physical, but I have absolute faith that it will get to that place for these two.

In the meantime, I’m eating up the UST, innuendo, and sexy sexy sexytimes that we’re gifted with in this fic. There’s no doubt canon vampire Edward was damn appealing (or else we wouldn’t all be here!), but brooding Artistward could definitely give him a run for his money.

Trin - I think Teal nailed it on the head when she described the Cruel Intentions type of world that Spanglemaker9 paints for us. I am often a little leery of the “poor little rich girl” character, but you will NOT find this with The Art Teacher . We are able to get in Bella’s head and understand where she is coming from so well, that you really feel like you connect with her and her situation.

At this time I DO think as a good solid WussPerv I need to say that this story is tearing my heart out. I know it will all lead us to where we need to go and it is in noway gratuitous heart-clenching, but it is still making me flail all the same.

In the meantime I will just continue to bask in the completely awe inspiring UST and the very very swoon-worthy ArtistWard.


Alby Mangroves said...

It really is a beautifully written and wonderfully fleshed out tale. It's a diamond.