The Diary of a Submissive: a review

08Sep12

diary of a submissiveOver the summer I had the privilege of being asked by a mainstream publisher to review an up and coming book, The Diary of a Submissive by Sophie Morgan. So finally on Tuesday I managed to get around to reading it, finishing it two days later, just minutes before getting a press release from the publisher to say the book had been launched as the ‘real’ 50 Shades of Grey that afternoon in London.

Now the publisher, Penguin of all companies, is obviously keen to cash in the 50 Shades phenomena and comparisons with that book are inevitable. The thing is, I haven’t read that book. Partly because I haven’t had time, but mainly because by her own account the author ‘researched it’ for a work of fiction and everyone who has read it said it wasn’t well written. So on to Ms Morgan’s book.

The publishers are keen to point out that Sophie Morgan is a feminist, as if this gives her special permission to explore her sexuality, but this is understandable given a possible future backlash. So it was some trepidation that I opened the book that had been so kindly rushed to me so many weeks before.

It is not really a diary, which frankly came as a relief. A diary is a format that doesn’t always lend itself very well to an erotic platform and in any case this story is more a memoir of a journey. It might have been better named Sophie’s Choice, but that was taken and wouldn’t sell as many books anyway.

At first my reluctance seemed well-placed; there is a short and somewhat pretentious prologue that read like something out of Nine and a Half Weeks, the Shades of the 1980s. Incidentally, this was a book that went on to be a disappointing film starring Kim Basinger, so fans of 50 Shades beware.

This was followed by a well-written, but somewhat dull account of the author’s childhood and her early exploration of submission. Given what was to follow, I couldn’t help wondering if this background could not have been tied up in a paragraph or two, but again I think the publisher probably put her up to first selling herself as a normal feminist woman and not a pervert. To cut them some slack, the target audience are probably awakening vanilla types rather than the sort of people who read this blog.

Then from chapter two it begins to take off. Sophie meets American Nick at university and an unusual romance blossoms.

“My first taste of kink, like many people’s I suppose, came from a good sound spanking,” she writes.

Now here is the rub, Sophie’s kink is not being spanked as such, but submission. Reading it, you sometimes get the impression that she can’t quite understand why when she gives herself to men, all they want to do is spank her. But then the heart of the book is not so much her exploration of why she wants what she wants, she knows that well enough, she gets off on it; but rather what it is she wants. A theme she keeps returning to is that her kink is: to do what her lovers want, whatever that may be.

At several times in the book she gets angry with what is being done to her, or so she tries to convince herself. After all, independent women don’t do this sort of thing. At such times her submission is presented as a challenge to herself. Consequently she ends up toe-sucking her boyfriend, which crosses one of her hard limits and rimming a girl with her tongue following a bet between her lover and his girlfriend.

To the reader it comes across as ‘the lady doth protest too much.’ For instance, her second boyfriend and mentor Russell ‘brands’ her at one point with a paddle embossed with the word ‘slut.’ She professes to hate both the spanking and that word, but then goes on to say:

“When I see the paddle my heart starts to beat faster; my body reacts in a way that that proves I am indeed a slut for the punishment – and pleasure – that it can inflict.”

There is a lot of spanking and caning in this book, but it is not exactly a spanking story. It is about a woman who explores often extreme sexual submission with all that entails. If you don’t like your stories to carry the F-word et al, then maybe this is not for you. But it is also a romantic tale about the search for Mr Right or as the feminist side of Ms Morgan might say, Mr Wrong. Or it might better be summed up as: girl finds dominant, girl loses dominant…

Mr Right in this case comes in the shape of Josh, who is presented in the book, not as a two-dimension character who exists only to serve her submission, but as a man who loses himself in guilt over the fact that he loves to inflict extreme punishments on his love.

This is well-handled. His self-doubt is realistically explored without compromising him as a dominant and her response as an independent woman is well-depicted without her seeming to be someone who tops from below. Although at times, perhaps because of this, the book drifts off into introspection about issues of consent, which will help soothe the by now rattled vanilla folk, but tends to act as a break on the eroticism.

At one point Sophie even talks about saying her safe-word, which she says in her head before the punishments even begins. But as a matter of pride and courage she refuses to ever use it. She knows that if she did then she wouldn’t get what she wants. And that brings us back to the point. Sophie’s lifestyle is shocking and hedonistic, but in the end it is her choice.

Sophie is a girl who ultimately knows what she wants and wants as much of it as she can get; even if it hurts.

I have a high threshold of satisfaction for erotic stories, but I liked this book and more to the point, for the most part, I found it erotic. It is a woman’s book that men will enjoy.

The Diary of a Submissive by Sophie Morgan was published by Penguin on Thursday 6th September, also available as an e-book from Amazon.



9 Responses to “The Diary of a Submissive: a review”

  1. 1 Mark

    Thanks. You note the issues of a dominant, which I have rarely seen addressed. I recall when I was younger being troubled about the same things. Perhaps you could explore the dominant’s thinking in a story or two. I think a submissive would enjoy hearing about the thinking of a dominant as much as dominants enjoy hearing about them. There would be the same opportunity for erotic events. The big plus is nobody else does it, and you could.

    • 2 JPJP

      I would like to know about how a dominant’s mind works, the hows and whys of us submissive girls has been explored to death.

  2. 3 paul1510

    Damian,
    an interesting review, I’ll take a look! 🙂
    Paul.

  3. 4 Scarlet

    This sounds interesting, and worth reading. I’ll download it.

  4. 5 DJ

    I hope the review is on target.

    There isn’t a whole lot about the dominant’s view here but the male characters are fleshed out a bit.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence Mark – I touched on this theme in the Elusive Ms Carmichael and will be returning to it. 😉

  5. I’ve started the book, and I’m just in the first part where her charming and normal childhood is being explored. Her family sounds so lovely and her upbringing so sound that I’m sure you’re right– it’s there to illustrate that it isn’t trauma that has made her as she is–as opposed to son of a crack-whore, Christian Gray.

    • 7 DJ

      I hadn’t realised Christrian Grey had that sort of background. If I had read it (50SG) I would have made more of the dysfunctional aspects pushed by that book – but I couldn’t in good faith do that.

      I hope you like the book. It will be interesting finding out how your view compares with mine.


  1. 1 Perles « S comme…
  2. 2 Review: The Diary of a Submissive | Giraffe Days

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