Story of O by Pauline Réage (Dominique Aury) was the February main pick for the Vaginal Fantasy book club. They wanted to celebrate the upcoming premier of 50 Shades of Gray.
I had never read a BDSM novel before, and I can honestly say that if this is an example of the genre, then it will be my last. Like any other woman I occasionally like to read something a bit different, just to change things up a bit, but this went above and beyond what I had been expecting.
When this book first came out, it caused quite a stir. Not many books of this nature got as much attention as this book did. It was also seen that this book opened the doors for so many more novels like it to follow.
I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters. Both René and Sir Stephen were (in my eyes) manipulative bastards. Jacqueline was a self centered bitch who only thought people were good for using and tossing aside. O was… well… diluted would be one word I would choose to describe her. It was just very difficult to identify with anyone, to the point where I felt like I was being ostracized from the book.
One particular thing that really got to me was the lack of informed consent. She was asked if she was going to obey, but not if she really WANTED all of these things to happen to her. Nor was she told what was going to happen to her until the last minute. She wasn’t given enough time to really make a decision. It was either agree or walk out the door and never come back. Also there was never a mention of a “safe word.” O’s safety was apparently not on anyone’s mind.
I really detested the fact that O was treated like a thing as opposed to a person. I’ve seen household pets treated better than her. O fell in love with René. He used this “love” in order to get her trained up as a slave and then passed her on to Sir Stephen. Sir Stephen breaks O down even further… even brands her with his monogram. And then at the very end, Sir Stephen dumps her off at Roissy (the slave training facility) and leaves her to die. No one deserves that kind of treatment.
I am pretty harsh on this book, but it does have a purpose. I think this book was meant to get under our skin. Make us think. Make us talk. I think Alex said it best, “The mark of a good piece of literature is the feeling you get of wanting to discuss it.” You betcha that I wanted to discuss this book… more like rant, but the point still stands.
Overall I gave this book a 2/5. I personally would want to give it a 1 star, but I realize what this novel has done for literature and I can’t discount its importance.