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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 March 2015
The Ages of Lulu was written in 1989 by Almudena Grandes, b. 1960, and was translated into English by Sonia Soto four years later. It addresses the [sex]life of Maria Luisa Ruiz-Poveda y Garcia de la Casa, the Lulu of the title, from an impulsive fifteen year old to early middle age. As related by Lulu it addresses both the events of her life and her sexual fantasies, c.omplementary strands that eventually come together. The key event in her life occurs in 1973 when, as a teenage rebel, she is seduced by Pablo, her brother's friend, later to become her husband and father of their daughter, Ines

Before and during their marriage, when unsurprisingly has its problems, Pablo and Lulu engage in a wide variety of sexual exploits, some involving a transvestite prostitute, Ely, and this leads Lulu into dangerous areas that serve to heighten her pleasure. Bondage, incest, group sex with gay men and lesbianism are all given due coverage which should give readers an idea of what to expect.

The background is the final years of Franco’s Spain with its illegal protests, repression and concern for moral values. Unlike many teenagers who engaged in political protest, Lulu’s focus is on gaining as wide a range of [bi]sexual experience as possible. The writing is graphic in the extreme and the book ends with Lulu examining her life from the perspective of a thirty-something classics scholar.

Lulu’s compulsion to explore the limits of her sexuality are contrasted with the repression and tedium of the Franco period. When it was published the book was a literary sensation – no doubt its explicit language and scenes contributed to this – and it was adapted by various directors. However, reading it in today’s internet age it seems somewhat dated.

Soto’s translation is somewhat clichéd and does not adequately reflect the Spanish location and so reduces the impact of the periods under Franco and his democratic successors. There are periods when the individual vivid sexual encounters are strung along a none-too-convincing narrative thread and Soto sometimes fails in the difficult task of uniting the rather sordid, unprotected and largely anonymous sex with the joy and fulfillment that Lulu apparently experiences.

This book may well appeal more to women since it shows Lulu to be a powerful woman who is ready to exploit men to achieve personal satisfaction. On the other hand she is dominated by her lover and husband, selfish in the extreme and one feels particularly sorry for her daughter, a neglected and rather peripheral character.

6/10 from a reviewer who is probably not best suited to offer an opinion; I will look out for other books by this author but will take more care to read the blurb before I buy.
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on 16 September 2015
I have given this novel 2 stars only on the quality of writing. I had read " The wind from the east" by the same author and thought it outstanding.
I did not like this novel because I read for enjoyment and found this quite nauseating! I skipped a lot of this and probably read one third, enough to
get the gist of the story.
Maria Luisa, LuLu or Marisa as she is sometimes called is at the start of the story a 15 year old schoolgirl from a large upper class but not wealthy
Madrid family. She is seduced by Pablo her much older brother's peadophile freind. He leaves the country immediately after their encounter and
returns some years later and marries Lulu. They cruise red light districts to have encounters with transgender men. After a few years Pablo
leaves her for a younger model (predictably) . Lulu spends all her money on orgies with male gay prostitutes. Broke, she is offered a large sum
of money to take part in an orgy arranged for an Alicante businessman it turns nasty and she thinks she is about to be killed when there is a
police raid on the premises, her ex husband appears on the scene and it looks like he has masterminded the whole thing! End of story!
I ask myself are there really people these, well of course there are!
Almudena Grandes calls this a modern day love story. There is no love in this novel. All I can say is the repression of the Franco era has a lot
to answer for.
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on 17 November 2006
This book is 'literature' with a fair amount of sex in it, rather than erotica per se. It's an interesting story about real-sounding rough-edged people, and you shouldn't buy it if your sexually squeamish, but then if you're into squeamish sex I suspect this isn't the book for you.
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on 21 October 2014
Very raunchy book written by an excellent author.
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on 12 January 2001
Lulu's brother friend Pablo exploits Lulu's puppy love by taking her virginity at an early age. Her sexual appetite grows as Pablo introduces her to new unchartered erotic territories. Her thirst for sexual discovery with or without him leads to all our sexual fantasies. This book was a gift to me and after reading it, my erotic collection has grown furiously. A great read into intence erotic desires and complex relationships.
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on 6 October 2011
In a long tradition of spanish independent films the theme of sexual exploration and discovery moves into the "dark" realms of sexual violence and the body as a pure object. the film looks at several complex levels of being from capitalistic values through to gender.
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`Lulu' is too big a name for this documentary text, if one compares it with Frank Wedekind's play or G.W. Pabst's movie with the sexiest actress ever screened, Louise Brooks.
The text is a relentless and explicit suite of sexual encounters, a more or less rewriting of some chapters of Psychopatia Sexualis.
But, readers are mostly not interested (any more) in pure sex gymnastics, only in what the protagonists feel, experience or think before, during and after, in what their motives are (conquest, love, hate, revenge, prestige, victory in a competition, procreation, bonding, phantasms, fantasies, domination ...) and in what the results are ((dis)satisfaction, no satisfaction, feel good, comradeship, jealousy, superficial or deep joy, disappointment, peace, destruction ...).
`Art' is not an expression of emotions or pure descriptions, but the skill (of the art-isan) of instilling emotions in those who enjoy art (the reader, the listener, the spectator). `Art' should be a revelation of original aspects of human life, of nature, of the world around us. Art is raising burning questions, presenting unexpected turns or revealing hidden or secret social relevancies.
What is the emotional value of this text? Nada.
What is the technical value? What are the burning questions? Nichts, except next time oral or anal? Threesome or `more'some? The text is nothing more than a suite of sexual happenings (facts).
Into the bargain, the author discloses part of the story before it happens: `He's never liked f. with his clothes on.' So ...
There is also a lot of `navel watching': then I did this, after this I did that.
I cannot recommend this book.

As an alternative, I highly recommend the works of Guy de Maupassant, and certainly his short novel (with his own introduction) `Pierre et Jean'.
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on 28 May 2011
Having read A frozen heart by the same author I was hugely disappointed with this book. The sexual content seemed to be disconnected from a story, from emotion and from any intellectual content. It's not new so I dont really understand why Almudena Grandes wrote this book at all. Having said that A frozen heart is one of the best books I have read which incorporates the Spanish Civil War so please read that book rather than this one. This is the first book I have completely deleted from my kindle.
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