Monday, September 17, 2012

Submission, by Marthe Blau

Description from

You'll want to scream,
but you'll be gagged.
You'll want to cry,
but you'll be blindfolded.
You'll want to run away,
but you'll be tied up.
You'll have no way of begging me,
I'll do what I want with you.
Submission, the controversial novel that, according to The Sunday Times (London), "sent tremors through the French establishment," is bound to leave American readers breathless.
Sexual obsession, domination, and dangerous desire drive the story of Élodie, a young married Parisian lawyer who finds herself swept up in a cycle of sadomasochistic lust.
A handsome stranger Élodie meets in court issues her a series of instructions that she feels compelled to follow. He introduces her to sex clubs hidden in dark alleys, toys that enhance physical pleasure as well as pain, and couples whose appetites are as voracious as his. What at first seems out of character for Élodie -- she has a small child at home, after all -- quickly begins to shape her self-identity. As the violence of their encounters escalates, these acts become an addiction she can't bear. But how far can Élodie go . . . and how much of her life will she risk in the process?
This sophisticated and captivating novel exudes the sensuality that only the French can deliver.

Amazon lists this title as being available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle format.  I bought it from a second-hand bookstore in paperback. 

- How kinky?

Very.  Oh wow is it kinky.  It is explicit and descriptive, detailing many very kinky practices including orgies, extreme violence, ownership (of a sort) and exhibitionism/voyeurism.

- How sexy?
Rather.  It is, in short, porn.  As mentioned, extremely explicit and detailed.  The somewhat staccato delivery can be a bit offputting, as I found the lack of rhythm and flow impeded my own, er, flow.  The plot was also stop-start, as it focussed for short periods on the sex, and then cut back for longer periods to the protagonist's own feelings - her job, her friends, her own thoughts and her loving family home - anti-sexy as she is a cheater (not poly or consensual cuckolding, just plain cheating).  But the language makes up for many halting sins, as it is never shy or demure.  It uses the words you want (need) to hear, which brings you right back into the swing of things.

- How inspiring?
Subjective.  I love reading about this stuff, but some of the ideas weren't going to be useful to me personally (anonymity, exhibitionism, orgies etc.).  I got some great fantasy fodder out of it, but did it inspire me to copy the book?  Not as such.  Inspiring of fantasy only (for me/us).

- How engaging?
Actually, not very.  It's not terrible, but I could easily put it down and come back later.  I liked reading the short chapters in chunks while in bed, but as mentioned the long periods of concentration on plot points other than the central relationship really slowed it down - in some parts it was actually boring.

- How well executed?
Well written, but to me it was clear it was translated.  I don't know whether the text was translated into English from French, or if the French writer was writing in English, but the language came across as slightly stilted and formal.  Only slightly, though, and to a certain extent it adds charm to the writing.

- Overall reaction
Cute little book.  Nice size (handbag sized!) and adorable cover art.  Short, bus-ride length chapters and gloriously explicit language.  The only real criticism I have of the book as a whole is the undesirable focus on Elodie's feelings, friends, vanilla experiences and of course, the poor family she is cheating on.  It makes a lovely and wonderfully delicious porn book into a bit of a moral tale.  If I wanted my porn tinged with melancholy and misery I'd be reading Story of O.  In short:  The plot had a little too much depth for your average porn book, but from certain angles, could be considered to add an element of evil, which some readers may prefer.  Sad ending made it a bit morbid for me personally.  YMMV. 

Only 2.5 out of 5 cocks.

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