Ready to get started?!? Yeah…us too…
In chapter 17 we get to know what really happened the morning after Gabriel and Julia’s first meeting in the orchard and more specifically why Gabriel left and why he never looked for her afterwards. Did it ever cross your mind that things could have gone that way or had you always thought Gabriel had abandoned her?
Elena : I’ll be honest and say that I thought he’d left. But I was also positive there was a reason that explained why he didn’t come back. I’m glad Gabriel explained to Julia how things really went that morning so that she could know that he never abandoned her.
Tamie: I also thought there was an explanation, and I’m glad that both Julia and we the readers now know what really happened.
In chapter 17 Gabriel confesses he did cocaine and thought about killing himself back when they first met. What was your reaction to these revelations? Did it change your opinion of Gabriel? How did you feel about Julia’s reaction?
Tamie: I knew he had things from his past that contributed to the Gabriel we first met. Quite frankly, I was more upset by the admission that he’d considered suicide than about the drug usage. To feel that level of pain and hopelessness is beyond excruciating. I thought it was courageous of Gabriel to make these admissions to Julia, knowing that she might reject him. I certainly feel like I understand him better. It’s still a secret as to what led him down that road though. I was really worried about how Julia took the news at first. I’m so glad that she decided not to leave.
Elena : These revelations didn’t change my opinion of Gabriel. Like you said, Tamie, I knew that Gabriel had a dark past. Of course, both the things he did, thinking about suicide and drug usage, didn’t make me happy, but mistakes happen in life. Everyone of us makes them. The important thing is that we recognize our faults and try to atone for them. Gabriel seems to have walked away from his previous lifestyle and wants to prove he’s changed. Why not give him this chance? It would be a miserable life if we were judged by our failings and our past. What matters is what we are now, what we’ve become, how we’ve changed. We still don’t have the whole picture of Gabriel’s past, but it’s clear to me that he wants to atone for it in some way. As fas Julia’s reaction goes, I love that, despite her being upset by his revelations at first, she decided to stay in the end and give a chance to their relationship.
In these chapters it’s evident that Gabriel’s behavior towards Julia has changed completely. He’s sweet with her and most significantly he wants to have a relationship with her. If Julia hadn’t revealed her real identity to him, do you think he would have fallen in love with her nonetheless, even without knowing she was his ‘Beatrice’? And what do you think of this ‘new’ Gabriel?
Elena : Yes, I believe he would have fallen in love with her, even without knowing who she really was. We saw that he started having feelings for her almost immediately and he tried to bury them ( failing miserably I must add ) I see them as soul mates, and what it’s meant to be always finds a way. What do I think of this new Gabriel? Well, I’m helplessly in love with him
Tamie: Elena, I agree that he would’ve fallen in love with her anyway…two souls calling to each other…finally reunited. I know, I know…I’m such a romantic. I like that Gabriel is communicating on a different level than what we’ve seen in the past. The “new” Gabriel? He was there all along…he just needed the right motivation to start stripping away all the junk and baggage he’s accumulated for so long. When you feel unworthy of love it’s hard to BE loveable.
In these chapters Gabriel and Julia get closer and closer and we get to see Gabriel’s sensuality…Discuss
Tamie: This book proves that sensuality and eroticism can be achieved without being graphic and explicit. It made me feel the desire and emotions that I love to experience when I read, without being “in your face” as I like to call it. I love both kinds of books I’ll never deny it, but it’s wonderful to read the slow burn in Gabriel’s Inferno, because SR writes it so beautifully. Gabriel is seductive and sexy and UNF! I loved him from the start, but he just gets better and better
Elena : The sensuality that characterizes these books is amazing. Like I’ve already said in another discussion, it’s hard to find novels that are as sensual as this one. Gabriel and Julia aren’t engaging in any sexual act ( the University policy prevents them from doing so) but the scenes between them convey an eroticism that’s masterfully done. Gabriel is a very sensual man *fans self* and wants Julia to trust him and at the same time he wants to please her…
In chapter 18 Julia shares a painful part of her past with Gabriel. What was your reaction when you read about what had happened to her and what do you think of how Julia faced up to this awful experience?
Elena : It broke my heart to know what Julia went through in her childhood years. She should have been cuddled and instead she never got affection. I believe Julia is a very brave soul and a strong woman. Despite what happened to her she’s still kind and compassionate. A female character worth admiring.
Tamie: I can really relate to Julia’s childhood on such a personal level that’s it’s actually very hard for me to discuss. I felt such an intense connection to her as a character while reading through this part. During rereads I sometimes skip past this now, but I’m not sorry it’s part of the story. It shows that you can choose to rise above a painful past. The human spirit is capable of healing…it takes a lot of work and effort, but as I said once before…we can choose to be victims of our experiences, or survivors. Julia is a survivor, and while she still has issues to work through…she cares very deeply…she’s good and kind regardless. I think we could all take a lesson from her.
Gabriel’s lecture on Lust in Dante’s Inferno. What did you think of it? What is your favorite part? Discuss…
Tamie: WoW! How come none of my lectures went like this in college? O…because I didn’t have a Professor like Gabriel Seriously, this is such a great scene. Makes me feel …well you know…just thinking about it. The Professor has all kinds of mad skillz…even turning lectures into an act of seduction. So hard to choose a favorite part…”The idea of shared orgasm, one partner’s ecstasy tripping the other’s, highlights the shared intimacy of physical and spiritual union. Panting, twisting, touching, yearning, giving, and finally and most gloriously, coming.” and “The joys and beauty of sexual intimacy, expressed in the unifying act of sexual intercourse, are the natural outgrowth of love. In this case, as should be clear, sex is not identical with lust. Hence the modern distinction made in contemporary parlance between, forgive my vulgarity, fucking and making love. But sex is not identical with love either, as the courtly love tradition demonstrates. One can love one’s friend chastely and passionately without engaging in sexual intercourse with her.” Brilliant…beautiful.
Elena: I loved everything about The Professor’s lecture. I wish more lectures were like that.. Once again I felt like I was in the audience, listening to him. Another brilliantly written scene. And I loved the looks he exchanged with Julia… My favorite part of the lecture : ” Sex is properly understood to be not only physical, but spiritual–an ecstatic union of two bodies and two souls, meant to mimic the joy and ecstasy of union with the Divine in Paradise. Two bodies joined together in pleasure. Two souls joined through the connection between two bodies and the whole-hearted, enthusiastic, selfless giving of the entire self.”
In chapter 20 there something disturbing happens involving Professor Singer, Gabriel and Julia. What were your feelings on how Gabriel dealt with the whole situation?
Elena: First off, I despise Professor Singer with passion. I wish she and Julia never met, not only because of what she did to her, but also because of her past entanglement with Gabriel. I believe Gabriel did the best he could at that moment. He tried to keep Julia away from the faculty dinner but he wasn’t clear on the reasons why. Perhaps if he had explained to Julia how things were, she would have understood. But I admit it was difficult to explain over the phone, since this would have brought up secrets of Gabriel’s past he wasn’t ready to confess yet. Probably the whole Julia-Professor Singer encounter needed to happen in order for Gabriel to be honest with Julia afterwards.
Tamie: UGH! Let me say that again…UGH! Professor Pain is exactly the right name for her. It’s a shame that there are people like this in reality, but truth is truth. They exist…they feed off the bad things in life, and they try to involve others in it…even those who are unwilling. What another horrible experience for Julia to have to suffer through. I think Gabriel did what he could to minimize without explaining the situation fully beforehand. I felt relief…again…that Julia didn’t just run away, thinking that enough is enough already.
“The Professor certainly had a way with words…and flowers and music and chocolate cake…”
“I’m a good lover, Julianne, in all senses of the word.”
“Was it wrong of me to think so highly of you that my only explanation for your existence was that you were either the product of a desperate mind or the crown of God’s creation?
“I found my hope when I found you.”
“Your reality is far more beautiful and alluring than any dream.”
“Look at me and tell me it meant nothing to you and I will let you go.”
“Your skin remembers me and so does your heart.”
“You need to become accustomed to my lips Julia, because I intend to kiss you a lot”
“I’m gaining more, much more than I’m losing, believe me.”
“You can rescue me or banish me with a single word.”
“Hello, my name is Gabriel, and I’m from the planet of bossy-no-self-awareness.”
“You’re an emotional rollercoaster, and I wanted to climb off.”
“I’m a good lover, Julianne, in all senses of the word.”
“Your skin remembers me, and so does your heart.”
“Hope. The sight of hope on Gabriel’s face made her tears come.”
“He’s worried she’ll stand up and throw her bra at him, or hold up an ‘I heart Emerson’ poster.”
“As soon as she removed her pashmina, a pair of jealous blue eyes darted across the table, hungrily taking in her newly exposed skin before making a hasty retreat.”
“You aren’t the only virgin in this relationship.”
“Gabriel, your life is like a series of locked, secret rooms.”
“Did the Clarks always speak in extended metaphors like metaphysical poets? Julia would have needed a literary criticism class in order to interpret their allusions.”
” It was real, Julia. It was everything. As soon as I touched you I knew…and when I touched you again…I remembered you. My body remembered you. It was only my conscious mind that had forgotten.”
“Your body and mind together. You came to me last night, Julianne. You came to my bed. Why did you do that? Why did you tell me you couldn’t stay away. Because we’re soulmates, just like Aristophanes described–one soul in two bodies. You’re my missing half. You’re my bashert.”
“It was tempting. It was teasing. It was the slowest kiss he’d ever given. And it made his heart beat quickly. When she moaned against his mouth, he tilted her head back so that she would open for him. But he would not rush. He waited for her jaw to soften, and when she could wait no more and her own tongue hesitantly came out to meet his, only them did he allow himself to accept her invitation.”
“You have to have faith Julia, and you have to have hope. Even if you don’t have any hope for us, you have to have hope for yourself. Otherwise, you will never let anyone love you.”
Tamie: I’m going to ditto Elena’s and add these:
“He growled. I am not in the habit of sharing what’s precious to me. I’m not going to allow another man to put his hands on you, and that includes Paul and any other Angelfucker out there.”
“If I were to taste your mouth now, I couldn’t answer for the consequences. So I can only adore this beautiful neck. I know that in a few seconds I will have to pull away, before the temptation becomes too much. It’s too much already. You have no idea how much I want you.” Gabriel’s voice was raspy, and he seemed to be breathing rather fast.
“Just before he closed the bathroom door behind him, she was treated to the barest glimpse of the most beautiful gluteus maximus muscles as Gabriel dropped his purple towel.”
“Wait.” He stared down at her, his voice pleading. “When I saw you walk into the lecture hall, my heart leaped. My heart leaped, Julianne. You’ve never looked more beautiful. You looked…happy.” He swallowed noisily. “I’m sorry I killed that look. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth. Do you think…you might be able to forgive me?”
Tamie: Gabriel’s discussion with his lawyer. Julia’s apartment. The Dante “lust” lecture.
Elena : When Gabriel and Julia have dinner at her apartment.
We’re so lucky that SR manages to pack so much fabulous into each and every chapter. Tell us what you loved…what moved you…
P.S. SR has a new post up on his website in case you missed it…
Elena and Tamie