I just finished the following two books:
- Story of O by Pauline Reage
- The Phoenix Rising: A Survivor's Story by Olivia Burgess
I actually borrowed this book from a co-workers after she and I started to talk about the Fifty Shades books which she had just started reading. She had asked me if I had ever read this book - Story of O - because she said that she found some of the books similar. Well, now that I've read both, the Fifty Shades series and Story of O, I can see some of the similarities. Both were about the world of BDSM (if that what it's called - well, whatever, you know what I mean) but each book had a completely different story.
You all know that I'm not all that crazy about the Fifty Shades books because of the unrealistic happy-rainbows, singing lolly poops, fairy tail ending. Story of O, on the other hand, is exactly how I would expected a book with characters like Christian Grey to behave.
In Story of O, our main character, simply named O, is introduced to this whole nasty world of submission, whippings, and total obedience by her boyfriend of two years, Renee. Renee claimed that he loved O, and she was stupid enough to continue believing him even after she received her first whipping and wanted to continue to please him because for some strange reason, she felt that she still loved him in turn. She did find some kind of strange attraction to being shared by different men, and though she didn't like the pain of being whipped, knowing that is made Renee happy, she was happy as well. It's a stupid way of thinking, but hey, my personality would never put up with that kind of crap, so I wouldn't and could never understand.
Unlike the Fifty Shades books, O learns that total obedience that Christian wanted at first from Ana. Ana was a teeny bit smarter by not letting herself become a mere object like O became, but I still think that if Ana and Christian existed in real life, that a relationship like that would have never lasted. Since I talk about a bit of realism associated with the story of O, then you can guess that Renee did not stay with O for that long term relationship that she was hoping for. The story takes an interesting twist, but I'm not going to spill too much! :-)
One thing that I did appreciate in this book was that all of the sexual encounters were not super detailed like I saw in Fifty or many of the modern day romance novels that you can pick up anywhere. The writer did leave some to the imagination, but it was still in the "erotic" category, just not the letters to Playboy or whatever that magazine is, type of bad. There was some taste with this book, but I'm not sure if it has something to do with the fact that this book was originally written in the mid 1950's or that it was originally written in french.
Because this book was translated, I'm not sure exactly how much could have been lost. I can't remember taking so long to read a book in a long time. The reading was a bit difficult and it really slowed me down. But then, I've also read Fanny Hill and that was written in English - but it was still damn hard to read! So, in a way I kind of liked the writing, thought the story was okay, but didn't care too much for the subject content.
Okay, down to my favorite part - talking about the characters. All of the characters were so perfect that I don't think they knew how to fart! There was really nothing unique with these characters other than they were all mentally sick. I admired how much shit O was able to put up with for her "love" for Renee, and I can understand to a small extent how being a submissive was important for her... but come on! Since I do not know anything about that dominant/submissive world (other than from fictional books), are there people that are really like that and have their roles take over their lives? I mean, if there was a guy that liked to play dominant in the bedroom at home, does he take that to work and treat any woman he works with or deals with in a daily basis like shit as well? What about a woman? Well, if a woman took that dominant type of personality to work, she's be considered a bitch, and unfortunately some companies in corporate America still require women that want to move up in the ranks to be like that because they have to prove themselves ten times more than men to succeed (but that is a different subject for another day). Anyway, I was not really impressed with the characters. They were like what I like to call - puppets - other than O who screamed and cried whenever she was beaten or whipped, no one really had much emotion.
I think one of the most annoying things when I read a book that makes me really judge a writer is in their ability to write dialogue into the story. And this writer's ability for that was lacking. I shouldn't say ability, because maybe she can write dialogue wonderfully in other books, but this book could have used a little more... no, make that a lot more! Maybe this is why it took me so long to read this book - there were just too much that got on my nerves.
This book did have a certain aura to it though... it reminded me of a series by Ann Rice - the Sleeping Beauty series. No, it's not the Disney version - this is on a completely different universe. It's the same type of sexual slavery type of genre, but Ann Rice puts more detail in her writing. I'm actually a bit surprised that the Beauty series did not start this whole 'mommy porn' trend. It also had ridiculous characters with a true fairy tail ending too. Maybe the it was a little too dark? I don't know what starts the trends, but I've read enough of this genre to keep me away for a little while. :-)
Okay, the next book is called Phoenix Rising. I find it funny that the main character of this book also has a name with the letter "O" - Olivia - who is also the writer. This is her story and how she survived abuse in every way you can imagine. She was sexually abused by her stepfather, emotionally neglected by her mother, and just messed up in her head all around by both.
When I mentioned earlier that both characters in these two books were strong, though O put up with a lot for what she thought was love, well, Olivia's strength comes from that rawest form of humanity that is in all of us that makes it possible for some people to survive. Olivia's story was hard to read on the emotional aspect. It's difficult for me to read about children suffering and especially when they're stuck in a situation that they can't easily escape from. This book also took me a while to read as well, simply because emotionally, I just had to put the book aside for a little while because it was too much for me.
I admire how much details the writer shared in this book. It was well written and I liked the flow of the story, but I don't think I can read another book like this for a long time. I would find myself shaking with anger when Olivia had to deal with her mom. I can't understand how she still wanted to have a relationship with her mom, especially when her mom put her through so much. I've never walked in her shoes, so it's not up to me to judge, but I can have an opinion, right? :-)
I was kind of hoping that Phoenix Rising would have had a little more story on Olivia's husband and other children. They were just kind of like accessories in the story and not really part of the main story at all. I found that a little sad. I can understand that Olivia needed to get everything out on what was going on in her head, and obviously dealing with what her stepfather did too her and how her mother was in total denial about what her husband did to her child and not being involved enough in her life to have noticed - well, that's a lot for a person no matter what their age to deal with. If her emphasis was on these characters is what it took for her to heal and get better to become the wife and mother that she needed to be, then i guess I can accept that. But it was still a book - and I like to be able to see my characters in color and unfortunately the people in Olivia's direct family were cardboard cut outs in black and white.
There was a lot that could have been improved with this book, but I kind of feel funny writing about it... simply because this book is such a personal account of a true story. I'm sure the writer put this book together with so much emotional attachment that the last thing I'd want to do is to sound like I'm disrespecting what she did and what she survived. I think this is probably why I didn't mind writing about both books in this blog... I don't really want to talk about this one too much.
I did just get the next book from one of my all time favorite authors of all time - Terry Brooks. I can't wait to read this one! I'm back to my comfort zone - fantasy fiction. Yeah, this series has a lot of stuff that is hard to believe, but then, it's fantasy fiction - almost everything is hard to believe! :-) :-) So, I'm off to read and satisfy my fantasy fiction itch that I've been ignoring for way too long.