Reading Level: Adult
Length: 204 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: January 1, 1992
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Swapped through Paperbackswap.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
I have had this book to read forever. I originally got it because it was on a list of books you have to read kind of thing. It ended up being a well written and engaging story, that did have some slow points.
This is a French erotic story about a woman named O who seeks to become the slave of a man named Rene. In her quest to be owned she undergoes a number of both sexual and psychological trials and training.
The translation I read was well done and easy to read. The story is engaging if a bit incomplete. At times there is so much sexual debasement in this book that those parts start to become a boring and repetitive. Apparently O’s masters don’t have a ton of imagination. That being said if scenes with whipping, restraint, or multiple sex partners are offensive to you…don’t read this book.
There is a lot I could say about this book. As for the sexual content there isn’t much in here that I haven’t seen in some adult epic fantasies where characters are enslaved or tortured…the main difference in this story is that O is willing and eager to be enslaved and debased. I think those who are bitching about how this book demeans women are kind of missing the point. This same story could have had a male as the main character just as easily; it’s just meant to be a representation of the BDSM scene and give readers a glimpse into the mind of someone who wants to be enslaved.
O is many times asked by her male masters to give her permission for her initial contracts, which she always does eagerly. O despite being owned and passed around by a number of men and being totally at their beck and call has a different sort of power. This is more apparent towards the end of the book than the beginning.
I have also read that too much time is spent discussing clothing. I actually thought that the discussion the occurs around clothing was pretty necessary to the story. Part of O’s obedience involves her being available to her master at his every whim. In the age of bulky bras and garter belts to hold up stockings; this involves O having to completely modify her wardrobe…which she does eagerly to prove her love and obedience to her master.
The ending was a bit disappointing since the book kind of ends in the middle of everything. There is a note that the last chapter has been suppressed from modern day publications, this is disappointing because I hate to see a story broken apart like that.
Overall I thought this was an interesting and engaging look into BDSM culture. There are parts where the sex/debasement gets a bit repetitive; I wish O’s masters had been a bit more creative. I was also disappointed in how abruptly the story ended. Again, people be smart, if BDSM completely offends you don’t read this book.
If you are interested in other media that looks into the psychology of BDSM (but from a purely entertainment lighter side) I would also recommend the movie The Secretary. This movie does a wonderful job of showing how a woman who likes punishment and a man who likes to dominate can have a balanced and loving relationship. If you are interested in a fantasy series that deals with this (again in a slightly different and fantastical way) I would recommend the Kushiel’s Dart series by Jacqueline Carey.