Welcome to the Classic Reads Blog Hop. I write erotic romance, so I guess its understandable that The Story of O is favourite of mine, and certainly comes under the classic heading on my list of re-reads.
When I first started on my journey as an author I attended a weekly creative writing course, run by the local university. I was the youngest student by decades, the eldest being ninety one.
The teacher was vibrant and enthusiastic and a bottomless well of knowledge all things literature. One day I expressed an interest in writing erotica and he told me that a good place to start would be Pauline Réage.
I dashed home and ordered Reage’s classic tale of female submission - The Story of O.
I expect many of you have come across this book, and I know full well scholars have spent hours studying it and writing thesis on it. I'm not one of those people, I just read it one day, several years ago. So please don't mistake me for an expert on its plot lines and intricacies :-)
The book follows the sexual journey of O, a young French woman who seeks to be submissive to her lover Renee. He takes her to a chateau, Roissy, where she undergoes ‘training’. This section of the book is heavy on the BDSM, full of humiliation, pain and sexual perversions. O is forced to share her body with a large group of men, being viewed and treated only as an object and left strung up in a dark, cold corner of the chateau.
I thought there were bits of this section that were extreme but O constantly gives her permission despite her discomfort.
After this initial ‘training’ O lives as Renee’s slave, never allowed to cross her legs and always available for him to take her whenever, however he wants. Renee encourages his elder step brother, Sir Stephen, to also use O – I say use because that is very much how it is written. Renee tells Sir Stephen that he will reserve her anus just for his use, kind of like a gift.
I remember this bit of the book standing out for me. The way the two men talk about O as she is pushed over, her rear in the air. It is as if they are talking about a horse they can share or a piece of clothing, not a human. But O laps it up, she feels that this is her next great test; to be able to be a sex slave to a man she doesn’t love.
Just when you think love is lacking it happens. I won’t spoil the story for any of you that haven't read it but there continues to be lots of whipping, blindfolds, ménage, piercings and sex, sex, sex.
The Story of O was first published in 1954 in France, the English edition 1965. Pauline Reage is the pen name of Anne Desclos though she did not reveal her true identity until forty years after publication. She then claimed that the book was a series of love letters to her beau Jean Paulhan. I have to say, that it is one hell of a love letter by anyone’s standards.
A sequel Return to the Chateau, Continuing the Story of O was published in France although it is seems up for debate as to whether or not it was written by the original author.
The fact that O has a single letter for her name is significant. It is claimed to be short for Odile, but also could signify O as in orifice, or O for object or even as the symbol of a hole. In O’s case, any hole her master saw fit to penetrate. You can buy pieces of jewelry with O on it that specifically represents the book and female submission.
Anyone else read it, enjoyed it, seen the DVD??? I'll be around to natter - time zones permitting.
Thanks for stopping by
A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace
At the heart of the seemingly perfect Tyler family stands sixteen-year-old Leah. Her proud parents are happily married, successful professionals. Her adoring younger sister is wise and responsible beyond her years. And Leah herself is a talented athlete with a bright collegiate future. But living out her father’s lost dreams, and living up to her sister’s worshipful expectations, is no easy task for a teenager. And when temptation enters her life in the form of drugs, desire, and a dangerously exciting boy, Leah’s world turns on a dime from idyllic to chaotic to nearly tragic.
As Leah’s conflicted emotions take their toll on those she loves—turning them against each other and pushing them to destructive extremes—In Leah’s Wake powerfully explores one of fiction’s most enduring themes: the struggle of teenagers coming of age, and coming to terms with the overwhelming feelings that rule them and the demanding world that challenges them. Terri Giuliano Long’s skillfully styled and insightfully informed debut novel captures the intensely personal tragedies, victories, and revelations each new generation faces during those tumultuous transitional years.
Recipient of multiple awards and honors, In Leah’s Wake is a compelling and satisfying reading experience with important truths to share—by a new author with the voice of a natural storyteller and an unfailingly keen understanding of the human condition…at every age.