Our concepts of motherhood and female desire don’t sit comfortably together. The ideal of the nurturing, loving mother, selflessly caring for her children, and the woman who is sexual, aroused, naked and open, don’t combine easily in our imaginations. Although sex obviously leads to pregnancy, there aren’t many authors who explore this post-birth conflict without … Continue reading How to be Both
Fifty Shades of Grey - the first in the trilogy of EL James’s erotic novels - was a phenomenon which took the publishing industry by surprise when Vintage bought it in 2012. It’s the fastest selling adult novel of all time, selling 15 million copies in the US and Canada in just three months. The … Continue reading The most successful erotic book ever…
I’ve wanted to read the Story of O for years. I remember, as a child, adults referring to it with raised eyebrows, hinting at their own sexual liberation and kinky interests. Its reputation as a work of “pornography sublimed to the purest art” hasn’t waned since its publication in 1954. It was written by a … Continue reading The Bondage of Love
Anais Nin’s two collections of erotica - The Delta of Venus and Little Birds - were published after her death in 1977. She’d been commissioned to write them when she moved to the US in the 1940s by an anonymous client and kept them secret throughout the rest of her turbulent life. A surprising decision … Continue reading The Queen of Literary Porn
The third review in my series of writing about sex explores the modern adulteress through two novels written by Leila Slimani and Jill Alexander Essbaum.
The second book review in my series of writing about sex is on Lisa Taddeo's Three Women. It's an astonishing piece of narrative journalism on female desire; the beauty and violence of yearning.
In 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote an influential book on the education of boys and girls. From a modern perspective, his views on the fundamental differences between the sexes are exceptional. Do traces of them still remain?
After the festivities and the feasting, my mind turns to the tokens that mothers left to identify their babies at the Foundling Hospital in the 18th century. These pathetic scraps of hope are probably the most poignant objects I've ever seen.
We live in an abundantly voyeuristic period, where we can find anything that arouses us online. Yet, the 18th century artist, Thomas Rowlandson, illustrates that voyeurism isn't a modern phenomenon. Perhaps it's human nature.
Last week on holiday I read The Power - Naomi Alderman's award winning science fiction novel - and I still feel it tingling in my fingertips. It's a shocking book. The central premise is that women suddenly develop the physical advantage over men and our world order is turned on its head. And I keep wondering: is it that simple?