In case you can’t guess from the title, this is a book about sex. If you’re not comfortable with that:
I hope this is the rest of you:
I’m pretty sure everyone knows I read the 50 Shades series. I don’t think everyone knows how much I hated it – but I did, and myself for reading all 3 books. I could talk for days about why but the one big reason I disliked it was the way it portrayed BDSM as something only really messed up people do or enjoy and that falling in love can cure you of that horrible condition which is so shocking, dirty, and wrong (gag me. ha!). So when I had the chance to read Diary of a Submissive, a true story by someone who enjoys that lifestyle, I knew I wanted in.
If you were blushing as you read 50 Shades on your Kindle, Diary of a Submissive is not the kind of book you’ll want to take out of the house. Granted, if you were shocked or horrified by anything you read in 50 Shades, Diary of a Submissive is probably not the kind of book you’ll want to read at all.
Yes, unlike 50 Shades, Diary of a Submissive is ACTUALLY about S&M. It’s both erotica and a memoir so you won’t get the luxury of telling yourself “this isn’t real” while you read it.
Though they are marketing it as a “real life” version of 50 Shades, this book is nothing whatsoever like it. This is not a romantic love story and Sophie Morgan (not her real name – shocking, I know) is no Ana – she’s a strong woman who is attempting to embrace what many people would see as a problematic side of her sexual identity.
Sophie discovers in college that she really enjoys being a submissive. Only she, unlike certain fictional characters, does not have a troubled past or survived previous traumas that might explain why she gets off on being humiliated and tortured. This makes her far more relatable and made the S&M aspect of the book more realistic for me – personally I don’t feel like it’s necessary to explain away sexual proclivities, to each her own. Sophie could be anyone and she can’t reconcile this “dark” side of herself with the woman she is in day to day life.
Aside from some unconvincing discussion of how she’s had to wrestle with her love of this lifestyle (“But I’m a feminist!” she wails ad nauseum ), the memoir is pretty detached from the emotional side of Sophie’s experience. Sophie describes the torture that’s been inflicted on her in a manner that’s almost clinical – it’s definitely not fluffy and romantic and probably won’t send you to the sex shop for handcuffs (or to the kitchen for a wooden spoon) to do some casual experimenting. The sex scenes are probably not going to be sexy to you if you’re not into that kind of thing since they’re focused mainly on describing the kinds of punishments she endured and less on the pleasure she derived from the sex acts. Still, they weren’t excruciating to read (for me, anyway) but they will make you cringe and wonder exactly why you’re not skimming ahead to safer sections.
The book was a quick read and definitely one I enjoyed. I felt Sophie had the chance to make this a story of self-acceptance but by the end she remains defensive and conflicted. The point where she might have sold us on the idea that she’s come to love herself for who she is comes off feeling very Pollyanna-esque. Still, I really enjoyed the questions it brought up in my mind as I was reading. I felt like the story was pretty accessible (like I said before, Sophie felt like she could be anyone) and definitely honest which is why as much as I didn’t feel satisfied with the not-quite resolution of her inner conflict it still just screams reality to me. We’re only human and can’t be expected to wrap up our personal issues within the frame of a book (or you know, ever).
Ultimately, I would have a hard time recommending this book to anyone who isn’t already intrigued by (or at least not fazed by) BDSM. If you read 50 Shades and felt like that depiction of a D/s relationship was majorly disappointing after all the hype you might appreciate this much more. If you were emotionally invested in 50 Shades for the “love story” (those words stick in my throat) between Ana and Christian you will not get that here. But if you like memoirs and/or the subject matter you might really enjoy this.
If you’re intrigued, definitely come on over to BlogHer and join the discussion.
I was provided with a copy of Diary of a Submissive and have been compensated for this review as part of BlogHer Book Club, however all opinions expressed here are my own.