Thursday, October 9, 2014

{RE-REVIEW + EDIT} Diary of a Submissive: A Modern True Tale of Sexual Awakening, by Sophie Morgan

Here's my first review of this book:

Subtext: A Modern Day Tale of Female Submission, by Kate Marley

Yes, you understood that correctly - there are two books, with different titles, carrying different pseudonyms, with almost THE EXACT SAME TEXT inside (see my note at the end of the post).
Since I wrote the previous reviews, I have re-read this book several times.  (One of the perks of having a terrible memory like mine is re-reading books and not remembering the details - it's like a new book every time!)  I have also read the expanded book, and found it to be a huge improvement.

Description from

The “real” Fifty Shades of Grey…A true life erotic story of female submission to rival The Story of O.

In Diary of a Submissive, Sophie Morgan candidly explains what exactly an independent, 21st century woman gets out of relinquishing her power and personal freedom in a submissive relationship with a dominant man for their mutual sexual pleasure.

In the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey, here is a memoir that offers the real story of what is means to be a submissive and follows Sophie’s story as she progresses from her early erotic experiences through to experimenting with her newfound awakened sexuality.  From the endorphin rush of her first spanking right through to being collared, she explains in frank and explicit fashion her sexual explorations.  But it isn’t until she meets James, a real life ‘Christian Grey,’ that her boundaries and sexual fetishism are really pushed. As her relationship with James travels into darker and darker places, the question becomes: Where will it end? Can Sophie reconcile her sexuality with the rest of her life, and is it possible for the perfect man to be perfectly cruel?

Daring, controversial, and sensual, Diary of a Submissive is filled with a captivating warmth and astounding honesty such that no one— man or woman—will be able to put Sophie's story down. Once you read the book you will understand why Sophie Morgan is a pseudonym.

So here's my updated review:

- How kinky?
Quite.  Morgan knows kink; this isn't a 50 Shades of Grey-inspired romp with silk scarves and hand-spanking.  This is a bedroom-submissive experimenting with everything from corsets to ownership, toys to orgies.  She digs humiliation and obedience, and that is the main plotline throughout - the obedience.  She's good at it!

- How sexy?
Not as much as you'd think.  As mentioned in my previous review, she is so straightforward and matter-of-fact that it kind of breaks the sensuality of the scenes.  There are a lot of details she leaves out, and she tells you there's more to the story than is printed, so it does leave you wanting more.  Reading it is more like having a conversation with a raunchy friend - it'll get you hot and bothered, yes, but you'll always wish it was just one step closer to actual erotica.  Well, I did anyway. - EDIT - The Morgan version has a lot more detail.  Heaps more!  It's much better now - in fact, it's bloody fantastic.

- How informative (for non-fiction) or inspiring (for fiction)?
This book, in a way, is both fiction and non-fiction.  What I mean is, it is non-fiction, but isn't a dry reference book, so I can't really call it "informative".  It reads like fiction, and my man is convinced it has been fictionalised and sensationalised - not knowing the author I really couldn't say.  But, between informative and inspiring, I'd have to go with inspiring.  It has some great ideas, some great fantasies, and in a way, it could almost be used as a fun intro into bedroom D/s for beginners - people who think that 50 Shades of Grey is kinky might have their eyes opened by the much deeper, more real scenes and language depicted here.  Plus it's so easy to read!

- How engaging?
Very.  I love reading this book, every time.  Hate putting it down.  I think just the fact that I've just finished reading it for the fifth time tells you just how engaging it can be :)

- How well executed?
Very.  As I mentioned in the earlier review, the author is a journalist, so she really knows how to string a sentence together.  The writing is easy to follow, easy to get into, and her vocabulary and grammar are impressive.  None of this "Oh, holy shit!" writing of certain other "kink" books I could name (is it obvious how much I hate E. L. James?  I know, I hide it well.)

- Overall reaction
One of my bugbears about this book is the author's apparent self-loathing about her own proclivities.  Frequently, and I mean at least once every chapter and in several cases many times, she mentions the "fury" she feels when ordered around, the "anger" that rises up whenever she hears certain words or phrases.  She is so stubborn, argumentative and reluctant to give in that I start to wonder if maybe she has deep-seated issues about why she submits.  She can come across as someone who hates that she is a sub and feels frequently embarrassed about her reactions to scenes.  It can seem at times like she finds it difficult to just accept it, go with the flow and just be.  It doesn't mean she's not a sub - quite the opposite, as she never fails to do what is asked of her and she is actually impressively obedient.  I'm just pointing out that it slows my reading down as I get a bit frustrated with her sometimes.  It's the *only* reason I did not previously give this book 5 cocks.  However - EDIT - the Morgan version has extended the narrative, quite significantly, and while Morgan still speaks a lot about her fury and embarrassment, she also explains that she is very aware of the fact that she is a walking paradox, and does make significant efforts to overcome that and just give in.  She never makes the reader feel bad or awkward for enjoying what she's writing about, and for revelling in their own submission, and so overall I felt less uncomfortable for her.  I felt she really puts across how hot she finds it all, and how she's never coerced or forced into anything, and how her embarrassment actually deepens and heightens the scenes for her.  

However, there is a serious (in my opinion) issue with the Morgan version of this title.  Namely, the realisation that this is not in the strictest sense a non-fiction memoir.  This is, quite possibly, a work of fiction.  What makes me say this?  Well, my memory of the Marley book was that one of the pivotal scenes with a former lover took place at a kink club, while the female protagonist was roped up in a shibari situation, her breasts on display and yet her dignity intact.  It was impressive, and left quite an impression on me.  When I read Morgan's book, I looked for the same scene, and it was gone.  "Oh,"  I thought, "She must have felt it wasn't in keeping with the tone of the restructured narrative."  I went back to the Marley book to reread the scene, and possibly figure out why it may have been cut.  Imagine my surprise - and dismay - to discover the exact same dialogue that, in the Marley version, had taken place at the club, had taken place in the Morgan version, on the woman's front doorstep!  Well, Author, did this happen on your doorstep or in a club?  It dawned on me.  It's entirely probable this scene never happened at all.  It's possible none of it did.  Is it a work of imagination, of fiction?  I feel somewhat betrayed, as a reader - Morgan does claim that this is a non-fiction work.  Call me a pedant, but in my book I believe a work of non-fiction should contain no fiction. An author should own up and be honest when any aspect of a memoir has been fictionalised, or they have taken imaginative liberties with parts of it (she does admit to the fact that "... the timeline and a few people/experiences have been amalgamated together both to ensure that they're not identifiable and to make the narrative structure of the book flow better," but is it the same?  I'm not sure)Am I being melodramatic?  Possibly.  But I take this stuff seriously.  Without honesty we cannot have trust.  Sophie Morgan, if you're out there, I would love to discuss this with you!  Please get in touch! :)

It is important to stress that the story is the same, with names changed, and the dialogue remains consistent.  But Morgan's version just reconstructs the narrative in a way that, in my own personal opinion, makes a mockery of the non-fiction/memoir genre, and I believe that is an important factor to consider.

While I had previously awarded the Marley version 4.5 cocks, I was prepared to upgrade my rating and award five cocks to the Morgan version.  However, with the change in focus from memoir to fiction, taking that into account in my judgment, I will stick with ...

4.5 cocks!

Please also check out the sequel:

No Ordinary Love Story: Sequel to The Diary of a Submissive, by Sophie Morgan


So, about the two versions.  This is, needless to say, a very unusual situation.  I am told that things like this usually happen when a book is published by a major publishing house, and then the text is plagiarised by a smaller house, changing the names and title as a nod to preventing litigation.  This doesn't seem to be the case here, though my own personal research into it continues.  The Morgan book purports to have been published by Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin, truly a publishing giant.  It even carries Library of Congress cataloguing-in-publication data, including an ISBN.  The Marley book is published by Xcite Books, a smaller and no doubt niche company, but contains all the correct legal information regarding copyright on the fly leaf.  The strange thing is that the smaller house seems to have published first:  the Marley book was first published in 2010, while the Morgan book claims 2012.  It's all a bit confounding, really. 

Besides the issue of "to whom should we be giving our money", the text of the books is close to identical.  The characters' names are different, and the narrative is broadly expanded (and drastically changed in places) in the Morgan book. Plus, the Marley book has been removed from Amazon, leading me to recommend you purchase the Morgan book, and not to worry that you have missed out. It is, all things considered, the better version.

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