Tuesday, March 22, 2016

15. Story of O

Where have I been?!?!

I know, that's totally what you guys have been asking, right? Well, March Madness got me, and then work bogged me down, and reading and blogging both fell away, as usual. It really does seem like they're the first to go (well, maybe after house cleaning). But I'm back now, and I'm ready to buckle down again. You all have faith in me, right?

You might lose it after we get into this week's book. It's an erotic novel I mentioned a couple weeks ago in my Sunday Update, and I'm finally getting around to blogging about it. It was an...interesting read, to say the least. One that made me both uncomfortable and intrigued at the same time, as seems to be the way of the erotic novel. This is not a review for the faint of heart...and mom, I apologize in advance.

With that being said, book 15 of Project 84 is...

Story of O
Story of O
By Pauline Reage

This was a complicated book.

It doesn't look like a complicated book. It's 198 pages long, and reads quick for the first few pages...but then you get slapped in the face by a line like this:
"'As a matter of fact,' the other voice went on, 'if you do tie her up from time to time, or whip her just a little, and she begins to like it, that's no good either. You have to get past the pleasure stage, until you reach the stage of tears.'" - Pages 9-10
And you start to realize we're not in Kansas anymore.

OK, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with the plot. The book begins with our main character, O, getting into a car with her "lover". Her lover, Rene, makes her take her panties off, blindfolds her, and drives her to a chateau called Roissy. At Roissy, we discover that Rene is part of an elite club, and he spends two weeks "training" O to serve all the men of the club.

The "training" involves whipping, blindfolding, chains, branding, and piercing...as well as servicing any member of the club who wants her. Once she leaves Roissy, her training is put to the test as she's introduced to men including Sir Stephen, who becomes her new "master".

The entire book is about confusing love, passion, and pain, and the way those three intertwine to create truly toxic relationships. At least...I think the relationships are supposed to be toxic.

It's tough to follow the thread of this book. On the one hand, it seems like we're supposed to understand O. She seems happy with her situation, and seems comfortable in her relationships with Rene and Sir Stephen. She seems to accept the fact that to love them means to submit to them, and in many ways, she seems happy about it.
"She did not wish to die, but if torture was the price she had to pay to keep her lover's love, than she only hoped he was pleased that she had endured it." - Pages 25-26
But, at the same time, she seems to understand she's property, and that this is not a healthy relationship...
"that ring was the sign that she was a slave, but one who was common property." - Page 117
It's that confusion that tears me away from the book. Am I supposed to feel sorry for O? Is she a tragic figure? If so, then I get this book, and I maybe even enjoy it, for all it's faults.

But if I'm supposed to support O's choices...if I'm supposed to accept that this relationship is the way of the world...then I'm completely disengaged, and this isn't the book I thought it was.

Similarly, if this book is really just about reading explicit, sexual content, and there's no real point at all...then this also isn't the book for me.

So do I recommend Story of O? I guess my ultimate recommendation is try it out! Read it. It's quick, it's easy to read, some of it is eye opening. And then tell me what you think, because I have no idea what I was supposed to learn from this tale. Because I prefer to like things, I'm going to say this is a tragic tale about a woman who just wanted to be loved...and for that, I suggest you give it a shot.

***
The book was a lot more uncomfortable to read than it was to write a blog post about, which surprised me. I'm glad this one is done, though, and I can move on to books I enjoyed more. I have a few more reviews coming this week, and more next week, assuming I can get a few books done this "weekend".

I hope you're enjoying the recent blog posts. Please let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see more of on this blog, and happy reading!

Next Review: The Nightingale By Kristin Hannah (Posting Date: Thursday, March 24th)



**All page numbers and annotations refer to this version of Story of O, published by Ballantine Books in 2013**

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