18 October 2012

My Thoughts on Sophie Morgan, Diary of a Submissive

This is a paid review for the BlogHer book club.  Although I am being compensated for this review, the opinions are my own.

Click on the image to buy the book at Powell's
 Being submissive is just one facet of my personality.  But it is a key part of what makes me the person I am, just as much as the importance I place on my friends and family, the way I love my job, my independent stubborn streak, my love of Marmite, even.

I signed up to review Diary of a Submissive by Sophie Morgan for two reasons.  1. I wanted read a nonfiction book about the BDSM lifestyle, and although I was really looking for something with an academic edge, I thought that hearing some first person reflection could be interesting.  2. I am totally fascinating by the whole 50 Shades phenomenon. I figured if book clubs across America are getting together to drink wine and talk about this stuff, I really had to find out what it was all about.  I also know that reading this is not reading 50 Shades, and this book might pop up on my blog again in discussion when I do read that other book.

But back to Sophie.  Sophie Morgan is a pseudonym for a British journalist who chronicles her introduction to life as a submissive, which coincides with her coming-of-age as a professional woman.  There were lots of sexytimes in the book- obvs - but I was really in it for the reflections in between.  I really liked Sophie in the first few chapters. She is a funny, bright young woman who immediately confronts what the reader might already be thinking about her.  Through the middle of the book, I went back and forth, experiencing the same ambivalence that she feels towards her choice to be submissive.  Some of the terminology in the erotic scenes could be cringe-worthy and repetitive (one of the criticisms I've heard about 50 Shades).  But what really bothered me through these scenes was Sophie's self-punishment during these moments.  Some of the scenes with Thomas went into territory that I felt warranted more reflection.  She exceeds her limits in attempts at a convoluted type of control, and she punishes herself (mentally, not physically) out of shame.  Through that period in her development, Sophie seems not sure that her choice is really a choice, and while this makes sense to me in terms of her progression, I wanted that to be treated more thoughtfully.

By the end of the book, there is some more reflection about coming to terms with her own desires and behaviors, which I appreciated.  She is able at the end, to break down the dichotomy of domination and submission (slight spoiler: which is, interestingly enough, what seems to make the relationship between Thomas and Charlotte, so successful), and to stop punishing herself.  In the end, the book gave me some fodder for thought, but it isn't a genre that I would choose to frequent, since it is more about recounting the incidents than it is about deconstructing them. Even though I know it is me trying to make the book something it wasn't, I wanted a more reflective Sophie, and deeper insight into her lifestyle.

Title: Diary of a Submissive
Author: Sophie Morgan
Publisher: Penguin
Date: 2012
Genre: Erotic Memoir?

295  pages.
Where I got it: From the publisher
Challenges: None

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