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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Female "Walter"?
For those of you who know "My Secret Life". Not a great comparison, perhaps, but not a totally wrong one either.
I found this book very erotic in places, and yet, terribly monotonous in others. Catherine Millet is an art critic who has had countless lovers, 45 of whom she can put a name and face together. She has indulged in orgies, group sex, outdoors and...
Published on 11 July 2002

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Carry On than Kama Sutra
Readers familiar with Fanny Hill by John Cleland may experience a sense of deja-vu on reading The Sexual Life of Catherine M. When not gracing the reader with intellectual insights on the relationship between space, sex and the natural environment, the author is variously being 'rammed' or 'filled' with a variety of 'members' 'rods' or 'organs'. The author herself is...
Published on 17 Dec. 2003 by blackeyedsoosan


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Carry On than Kama Sutra, 17 Dec. 2003
This review is from: The Sexual Life Of Catherine M (Paperback)
Readers familiar with Fanny Hill by John Cleland may experience a sense of deja-vu on reading The Sexual Life of Catherine M. When not gracing the reader with intellectual insights on the relationship between space, sex and the natural environment, the author is variously being 'rammed' or 'filled' with a variety of 'members' 'rods' or 'organs'. The author herself is constantly 'taken' by 'insistent' men, and even ends up being pounced upon 'from behind' when she has a stomach upset - not the first thing which would occur to me to ease a case of Dehli belly.
For a memoir touted as a narrative of sexual liberation, I found this book not so much shocking as tedious, mundane, even flaccid. The descriptions of sexual liaisons are phallocentric and repetitive, and the tone is more prudish than provocative in its use of stock pornographic vocabularly. I'd recommend that readers stick to Anais Nin who writes with a truly female voice, and leaves out all the intellectual navel-gazing in which Catherine M indulges.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The mechanical adventures of the Duracell bunny, 12 Jan. 2004
By 
Londonist (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sexual Life Of Catherine M (Paperback)
An astonishingly dull, tedious and mechanistic book about a life spent in the pursuit of clockwork sex. This woman humps her way through dozens, possibly hundreds, of faceless men rather like the Duracell bunny - with considerably less excitement, pleasure and imagination than a trainspotter recording serial numbers from railway engines. All the characters including the author remain resolutely two-dimensional and bloodless throughout. A deadening book which summons up rather more vivid images of the psychiatrist's office than the bedroom.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, if a struggle after a while, 11 July 2004
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Sexual Life Of Catherine M (Paperback)
I don't know - when you've decided to write a book about sex, it's bound to be a bit of a chore after a while, especially as she's chosen such an clinical style. Yes, the repitition of the sexual act so many times does drag, but there's quite a lot to interest too. Ultimately, I did find it rather interesting following the tireless Catherine going about her daily grind (no apologies for the pun). But as another reader has guessed, it all seems a bit more serious in French (I've only glanced at the translation).
But I have to say that if you've not enjoyed this book - and even if you have - "One Hundred Strokes of the Hairbrush before Bed", by Melissa P. is a sight more dull, and rather less convincing. And if the Italian's that bad, God alone knows what the English translation will be like.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Female "Walter"?, 11 July 2002
By A Customer
For those of you who know "My Secret Life". Not a great comparison, perhaps, but not a totally wrong one either.
I found this book very erotic in places, and yet, terribly monotonous in others. Catherine Millet is an art critic who has had countless lovers, 45 of whom she can put a name and face together. She has indulged in orgies, group sex, outdoors and indoors with many, many men, often offeriung herslef to large groups in the Bois De Boulogne and other public spaces. And this is the problem with the book. Eventually the encounters blur into one long orgy, with Catherine the only fixed point in sight. She has obviously enjoyed her life, and her encounters, and has relished telling us all about them, but there is, for me, a sense of emptiness that creeps in early on, and only grows.
At times Catherine is a sophisticated woman who decides what , and who, she wants and gets it. At others she seems like an innocent, and others like a child reveling in being rude in front of her parents.
All that said, a book well worth reading, but don't expect porn, it is much more like "Story of O" than that.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective, 4 Jun. 2004
By 
D L (North West London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sexual Life Of Catherine M (Paperback)
This autobiography begins how it ends. Millet delivers detailed illustrations of her varied accounts of sex, whether it be intimate or mass.
In covering such a diverse aspect of her life, she talks to the reader bluntly, yet is able to speak deeply about sex. Her tone is consistent throughout the book, which can prove it to be a complex read, as the monotonous passages create people, space and situations which are hard for the reader to recall. "En Contraire", the language is beautifully adorned with artistic description.
The strength about this book is that Millet is able to narrate without inhibitions, conviction, remorse, shame or regret about her achievements and experiences, a narrative and explicit autobiography which is truly rare, the reader feels a great sense achievement by the end of the autobiography, having persevered through a unique but difficult perspective on sex.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars YAWN YAWN YAWN, 21 Sept. 2003
By A Customer
What a complete and utter waste of money this book has proved to be. Like other reviewers the blurb on the sleeve seemed to suggest some intelligent reflections from a Parisian woman who was able to openly reflect on her numerous sexual experiences. What followed was a badly written, disjointed and unfeeling monologue on her various escapades. Found myself skipping huge chunks of this book and ending up feeling curiously sorry for this woman who seemed to know everything about the mechanics of sex and nothing about tenderness or love - it read like some sort of bizarre therapy session - detached and totally failing to engage the reader. One can only wonder why she thought it worthwhile writing the book in the first place.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Who knew that sex was this boring???????, 31 Dec. 2003
By 
Jason Parkes (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sexual Life Of Catherine M (Paperback)
I've read conflicting reviews of this book- JG Ballard liked it, as did some broadsheets- it hasn't fared so well on Amazon; like the majority of the human species, I'm interested in sex...so was hoping to find something of interest here. Sadly, I did not!
What would Millet write next?- a reminiscence of every bowel movement?- something that has a chance of being more interesting and illuminating than this boring 'memoir'. If you read it in the original French, it probably sounds very meaningful...but translated it has the aura of a story in a downmarket porn mag- except we don't get pictures to compenstate! This is almost as bad as Alistair Campbell's porn- imagine if Millet's first name was Christopher- imagine the uproar! Look how Dennis Potter was chastised following Blackeyes, which flaws apart, did attempt to do something with the world of sex...
Sex is an interesting subject- everyone does it & thinks about it- & I can see it's purpose even in extreme sexual works like American Psycho, Crash, The Passion of New Eve,The Piano Teacher, The 120 Days of Sodom & Tropic of Cancer. Or films like Irrerversible, Sex & Lucia, Crash (Cronenberg), The Piano Teacher (again), Last Tango in Paris, Salo, In the Realm of the Senses, Querelle etc. It's a valid topic, though poor writing can reduce it to unintentional hysteria- though I bet my SOUL that Alan Titchmarsh's sexual writings have superior qualities to this boredom. The Pillow Book & Showgirls are postively appealing after reading this...
Millet's book is simply boring- we get little insight- apart from a repeated thing about nakedness being a skin (or something)& an over-use of the word 'vulva'. Baudrillard notes in Simulacra & Simulation the way that Ballard uses biological terms alongside mechanical ones in the controversial Crash, literally fusing sex with imagery of the 20th Century (cars, planes, technology). Millet, alternately, uses biological terms alongside slang ones (the C-word, which wasn't THAT extreme when used by Miller in Tropic of Cancer)- there is little purpose to them. They have the aura of someone writing a pretentious take on the Penthouse Forum story. Ballard's had a cold, alienating effect. American Psycho uses ridiculous erotica alongside graphic violence to make its point...Millet's book just has a series of sexual acts that may or may not have taken place (who cares?) & she has fashioned a lite philosophy from.
We learn boring information about her rejection of underwear (which, er, wasn't feminist), that she got a bit sore after group sex, & some really dire fantasies, one of which includes a dog. Not shocking, just a bit sad really. Perhaps everyone should write a book like this- the internet may be the avenue for such writings. But to publish it under your name and attempt to fashion a philosophy from it????? As for insights into sex, well, you're more likely to learn more from a porn mag- though perhaps you should just ask a girl (or boy) whatever...which would be more illuminating.
People have problems with Anais Nin & Venus in Furs, but trust me- this makes stuff like Incest seem positively forward thinking. I think you'd be better off reading a Germaine Greer book- or for revealing writing on female sexuality, listen to a PJ Harvey record, or try the best book I've read on the subject: The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter. This is grot- Millet too lazy to put this stuff into the fictional realm like people like Julie Burchill (Ambition) & Hanif Kureshi (Intimacy). Millet insists she is liberated and undamaged- perhaps this could have been an article, but a book????? Avoid, sil vous plait...
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Empty Life of Catherine M, 14 Mar. 2003
By 
F. Bowley "fbowley" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
It is said that to write a good memoir, you have to have lived an interesting life. Catherine Millet easily passed this test, unfortunately she dismally fails the second implicit requirement, an ability to write well.
The book portrays, in a seemingly random sequence, the author's uninhibited experiences of group sex; where no man, woman or sexual practise was taboo. Surprisingly, given the potential gold-mine of salacious stories, the resultant book managed to make orgies as exciting as going to the toilet. There rarely seems to be any attempt to provide anything more than the shallowest description of the mechanics. Ms Millet maintains that her sexual pursuits do not revolve about pleasure, something I find easy to believe as enjoyment, excitement and emotion of claringly missing from the book. Where she does occassionally discuss her pleasure, it just becomes another cold facet of intercourse; an orgasm without feeling.
I also suspect that Ms Millet is trying to provide some philosophical underpinning to her experiences; an attempt to provide some insight into how people relate. However, her style is so jumbled and opaque - with some of the most ridiculous metaphors - that it would be impossible to identify anything of value.
Overall, do not buy this book! The most jaded bodice-ripper would be a better buy than "The Sexual Life of Catherine M"; at least it would have some excitement.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Drivel, 21 Oct. 2002
By A Customer
The concept behind the book is intriguing in that it is about a woman's multiple sexual partners. However, the actual content is quite disappointing and fails to deliver an interesting and constructive discussion on the subject.
The initial part of the book was actually quite titillating but after about 20 pages of Ms Millet's confusing narrative about her fantasies and what really happened, it became boring and repetitive.
I found the content very shallow and not very constructive. There appeared to be no conclusion or even a point to the book at all except that it is fundamentally a medium for Ms Millet to "brag" about her past experiences which really are not particularly fascinating or novel.
To sum up, I am actually enraged that Ms Millet is making money from this poorly written book when there are plenty of very talented unknown writers out there that could do a far better job. What is even more annoying is that I bought the book on the pretext that it would provide an intelligent viewpoint on women's sexuality.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and badly written. As sexy as cold pizza., 24 Aug. 2002
This book has been criticised - perhaps condemned is a better word - for all the wrong reasons. Because Catherine Millet confesses to having participated in anonymous sex with a great many men, most of whom were essentially strangers [...] she has, perhaps not surprisingly, enraged those who cannot accept that a woman might enjoy and express her sexuality in a manner which most men would consider quite normal, if only the opportunity presented itself, and would at least recognise as a common male fantasy.
I would not take issue with this book because of the lifestyle that Millet describes. I would however, do so because it is simply a very, very bad book. More than anything else it is boring, almost beyond belief. Who could have imagined that a woman who has participated in orgies and anonymous gang-bangs could describe her experiences in such a flat, turgid style?
In many places the book is self-contradictory. On the one hand she says that she has had sex with forty-nine men, and yet on page after boring page she details encounters with many, many more men than this. The age at which she began her periods appears to be a movable number. Is it possible that all her frantic sex did reduce her mental faculties or at least her ability to count?
It's also just very badly written (or translated but from a reader's perspective, why should I care where the blame should lie?). There is no narrative structure. Odd expressions are used ("I took the part of the rebuffed child" when she appears to mean that she sympathised with the child) and much of the English is simply poor and ungrammatical. Take for example this sentence "This particular friend was a journalist; he ended up interviewing me for a review he wrote for." Sorry but that is quite simply not a sentence in English...
If you want to read something sexy, or reasonably well written or at least interesting, I have to say that you would be better off with the News of the World, rather than this lame, rambling, self absorbed and - most of all - boring, boring, boring book.
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