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A Spy In The House Of ...
 
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Anaïs Nin
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A Spy In The House Of Love

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  3,034 ratings  ·  229 reviews
A unique, moving story of a modern woman's journey into the depths of love and self-discovery, told in exquisitely erotic language and images of startling emotional truth, penned by "one of contemporary literature's most important writers" (Newsweek) and newly repackaged.
160 pages
Published September 6th 2004 by Penguin (first published 1954)
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Lynne King
A taster: “Desire made a volcanic island, on which they lay in a trance, feeling the subterranean whirls lying beneath them……The trembling premonitions shaking the hands, the body, made dancing……..They fled from the eyes of the world……where there were no words by which to possess each other….. unbearable but only one ritual, a joyous, joyous impaling of woman on a man’s sensual mast.”

But “who is Sabina? What is she?”

I’ve read Anaïs Nin’s “Journal of a Wife” (The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1923-27...more
Mariel
Jul 05, 2013 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the secret self unveiled
Recommended to Mariel by: firebirds
He turned his eyes, now a glacial blue, fully upon her. They were impersonal and seemed to gaze beyond her at all women who had dissolved into one, but who might at any moment again become dissolved into all.
This was the gaze Sabina had always encountered in Don Juan, everywhere; it was the gaze she mistrusted.
It was the alchemy of desire fixing itself upon the incarnation of all women into Sabina for a moment but as easily by a second process able to alchemize Sabina into many others.


I rememb...more
Angie
Anaïs Nin crafts stunning (and self-destructive?) descriptions of the many insecurities and anxieties of being a woman. This book, although sometimes a bit trite, completely floored me. I'm resonating in her language, almost in disbelief at having familiar issues so beautifully and boldy presented. I actually found myself caught up in her adept confessions of the sometimes banal main character, and was often reading on for pages before realizing that I needed to slow down and let some of the min...more
Adrienne
All I am going to say is this is an amazing piece of work, readng it is a sensuous experience,one to be savoured and thought about. Anais Nin has captured perfectly the feelings of many women who are torn between being wife,lover,mother,child,friend and mentor and how all those facets of our personality come together to create the person we are. If words acould be turned into something tangible this read would be (for me) Calvados, Shalimar perfume and cigar smoke, Exotic and mysterious, with ju...more
Shilo
Jul 31, 2007 Shilo rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people in stale relationships that started too young
Shelves: yikes
beautifully written, a tale of a dissolving marriage.

personally, I spent nearly the entirety of the book thinking that had this woman used some autonomy in her early adulthood and perhaps didn't jump into marriage so young, her questioning would have been resolved as a normal part of growing up and with far less emotional expense.

But really, it's a different era, and I'm a different kind of woman. I found it incredibly difficult to relate.
It seems to me that most of her problems would have been...more
Kelly
I think that Nin's writing is always outstanding. This was no different. The story was not erotic at all, but followed Sabine, who has multiple love affairs. It gives you a glimpse of her guilt and her thought processes. I found it quite sad actually, as it seems like she felt estranged from everything and was never contented.
Dolors
Maybe because I expected a much simpler tale or maybe because I had higher expectations about what this book would be like, but somehow I couldn't help but feeling deceived by this story.
The short summary at the back cover seemed promising enough: a haunted woman, Sabina, who is unable to remain faithful to her husband Alan. She is helplessly attracted to total strangers and finally driven into fruitless affairs which leave her feeling restless, guilty and edgy. But at the same time, she can't l...more
Magdelanye
What I remember most from my first reading of this book is the feeling of disappointment when I was done. That there was no resolution, no final report,and not even a character I could bond with.In fact, the characters rather repelled me.They seemed to lack substance. I felt like I had stumbled in to the wrong party,and instead of the crowd of witty friends I was expecting,I was confronted with an aimless group of earnest strangers.

From the perspective of years,I can see how I may have been vas...more
Bethan
The theme of this book is infidelity - Sabina, the main character, commits infidelity and it's about her thoughts and experiences about that.

Nin is very avant garde a writer and this is both her strength and failing. I get a sense that the writer is continually and self-consciously striving and pushing for showy image and style. As a result substance can often suffer for that. Often this novel feels thin and insubstantial. The characters are not well-developed - the men are like caricatures or...more
Gary
My first Anais Nin book so i did'nt know what to expect really.
But what i discovered was a beautifully written book.Very descriptive
and an over powering sense of the anxiety Sabina was suffering in
the story.Such an edgy restless character.
I did'nt think it was so erotic....just a study of the guilt and
anxiety of Sabina who was trying to find love and didnt seem to really
know what she was looking for or could'nt find it all in one place.

Felt a bit sorry for her husband who didnt have a clue what...more
Alan Chen
This book is my introduction to Anais Nin and I'm extremely impressed. Nin has a style in her writing that is unique in both flow and grace. Her writing is extremely sensuous and evocative of the mood she creates without being tawdry. Sabina is a 30 something woman who is worldly, beautiful, and craves love. She's been married to her husband for 10 years but loves him more as a father figure than as a husband. She cheats on him with a variety of men but each allow her to be a dimension of hersel...more
David
I wouldn't advise reading this if you are working the nightshift in a Siberian coalmine: these are strictly poor-little-rich-girl problems.

But that's not to say that Sabina isn't very unhappy and deserving of our sympathy, and that Nin doesn't write very well.

I just think Mary McCarthy probably did it better: a sense of humour, and characters taking themselves a bit less seriously.

There's no escaping that Sabina's problems could have been solved by either:
a) A job. An early Peggy at Sterling C...more
Sophie
the novel follows Sabina, a woman who dares to explore her feminine sexuality in search of true love. as she remembers her various love interests, she feels guilty of her lifestyle, torn between the yearning to pursuit her desires and the strain to sustain her relationship with her husband, Alan, her "security blanket", who she feels she has to protect.

the writing style was poetic and melancholic, while the narrative device was stream of consciousness, which is a technique that i absolutely ado...more
Sarah Coe
Sep 03, 2007 Sarah Coe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone feeling in need of a little sexy danger
Shelves: sexysexy
Anais Nin is brilliant at capturing the essence of female sensuality, mystery and complexity. Reading Nin feels like taking a warm, candle-lit bath while drinking a glass of good red wine.
Janet
I wanted to be Anais Nin... couldn't manage the eyelashes. Prefer her fiction to her diary, and this is my favorite--the ghost of June Miller everywhere here.
Debbie Robson
Having already read one of Nin's erotic short story collections, I (wrongly) presumed that this novel was a similar type of work. How wrong could I be! This is (for me anyway) a brilliant evocation of a lost soul. Sabina moves between her sheltered, relatively happy life with Alan to her restless wanderings of nightclubs, the beach and Mambo's club. During the course of this short novel we meet three of her men. My favourite is the flyer from the war who has seen death and like Sabina can't live...more
Michelle Gastulo
First Anais Nin I've ever read...basically, the story of a woman who is deeply vulnerable and unstable. Throughout the story, Sabina slips in and out of sexual encounters with different men although she seems to derive her deepest happiness from a man named Alan, who represents somewhat of a father figure. Although she deeply admires him and even might love him, Sabina is so unstable that she cannot seem to stop her infidelities, even though she is racked with guilt and paranoia afterward. Her e...more
Mersini
Oh god, this book is incredible. Thank you Anais Nin!

I'm sure it's not the only book out there that covers this topic, but it's the only one I've read, where a woman who sleeps around is neither a slut nor a whore, but simply a lost being who is in search of love and who thinks that sex can be transformed into it. She is not judged by anyone but herself. She is not shamed for her actions, except by herself. She is driven by need and held back by guilt, and lives a half life in which she is thro...more
Theresa Wasiloski
So... I think "fecund" was Nin's favorite word while writing this book.

And it kind of grosses me out.

What I liked most about this book were the insights- into the hiding, lies and guilt, particularly. While reading A Spy I had several of those "yes, i understand that completely" moments, which I appreciated. Also, the on-fireness of Sabina I thought was relatable. Consume, consume, consume.
And I liked the idea of moonbathing.

What bothered me most was that I felt no sympathy or compassion for...more
Maura
There are those who view Sabina as a hero and those who view her as a villain. I can not change the mind of one who dismisses this book because they are not interested in her life and her experiences. A Spy In The House of Love is very much Sabina's mental anguish, her uncertainty and her conscience wrestling within itself and if you've no interest in her, you will not be interested in her story.
This is a book about a woman who, quite simply, has affairs. Plural. I find it quite easy to find tal...more
Bev Spicer
I read this when I was young enough to believe that I could, if I wished, ‘be’ Sabina. I had already devoured most of D H Lawrence’s novels and been impressed, as only a pretentious undergraduate can be, with this (or any) kind of angst-ridden literature, so I was ready for more and was inclined to believe that Anais Nin would go deeper in, as it were, and stay there for longer.
A third of a century later, I downloaded the English version to my kindle and plunged in once again. What I found was a...more
Alika Yarnell
Apr 04, 2008 Alika Yarnell rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Self-absorbed, promiscuous, wanna-be actresses
Shelves: fiction
There were parts of this book that I enjoyed, but most of it left me annoyed and I couldn’t wait for it to end. Luckily, it’s a short book, otherwise I don’t think I would’ve made it through all the way. The writing is so rambling, heavy-handed, and tedious that I never cared about Sabina (the main character) or her many lovers. I was more interested in the “lie detector,” but he only appeared briefly at the beginning and end of the book. It took me awhile to get used to Nin’s style, which seeme...more
Samantha
This book is so poetic and beautifully written I feel slightly guilty for giving it such a low rating.
The story follows Sabina who is married to Alan but sleeps with Philip, Jay, Mambo and John.
She starts out as a character you have sympathy for, she paints herself as so many different things that to the public and to the reader she is a wife neglected, then a daughter beaten, then a lover scorned.
She is so many different people that by the end of the book her true self emerges and she is a p...more
Lizzy O'shea
I don't think I've ever found a book so frustrating. It's been a long time since I've doggy-eared pages of anything, and this contained some of the most beautifully written passages I've come across, but there were times when I wanted to throw this book at a wall. Brutally honest expressions of sexuality and a powerful portrayal of women, but at the same time the construction of the story was all over the place - perhaps that's the point. I think my issue with this book was that I was too impati...more
Nicola
The novella’s “spy” is Sabina, who cheats repeatedly on her boring, patient husband, obsessively searching (in a variety of lovers) for a pleasurable outlet for the many sides of herself. Nin’s writing, as she describes the multiplicity of her protagonist, is lyrical and frequently poignant.

However, apart from its study of a woman in turmoil, the book does not involve much of a plot. In fact, Sabina’s lovers sift in and out of the narrative, providing the story with little structure. I wanted so...more
Mel
This book took awhile to grow on me. (For all that I read it in a day). I really enjoyed the writing style, but the apparent gender differences in the first half just bothered me a bit too much. I could see people arguing about how this was a good example of the "intrinsic" differences between men and women and their attitudes towards sex. I also wasn't sure why the main character was so interested in going and sleeping with other men when she didn't seem to enjoy it at all. Something changed fo...more
Finn Oliebollen
I think I would give it a 3.5 really as I was wishy-washy on which way to go with the stars. I really loved certain parts, there are real nuggets of great writing in there, and then at points a fair good deal that was painful to chug through. I suppose I found Sabina's struggle with self-identity a little exhausting at points. I loved her for it too.

This is a book that at its heart captures what it is like to struggle with a fragmented sense of self and how Sabina comes to face to face with hers...more
Chloe Thurlow
Nin's breathtaking novel takes us to the heart of what it meane to be a woman, to love a man entirely, completely, consumingly; to find our being and pleasure in becoming so absorbed by him we are him and thus he becomes us. This is not a love story. It is an erotic meeting of minds and flesh, a mirror in which we will find a glimpse of ourselves. More than anything else, it was reading this novel that inspired me to become an erotic novelist and each book I write is both a homage to Anaïs Nin a...more
courtney
wow, this book!!

so there's some pretty saucy descriptions of sex, but those are some of the least interesting parts to be honest.

i was really intrigued by how in all these affairs sabina never really gets all that close to any of the men she is with. it's always just that one face that each of them shows to each other. on the surface, it looks like her head's in the clouds with romance, ya know? she's just going from one fling to the next all wrapped up in desire. i think a lot of people would s...more
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French-born novelist, passionate eroticist and short story writer, who gained international fame with her journals. Spanning the years from 1931 to 1974, they give an account of one woman's voyage of self-discovery. "It's all right for a woman to be, above all, human. I am a woman first of all." (from The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. I, 1966)

Anaïs Nin was largely ignored until the 1960s. Today she is...more
More about Anaïs Nin...
Delta of Venus Henry and June: From "A Journal of Love"--The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1931-1932) Little Birds The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934 A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953

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“The enemy of a love is never outside, it's not a man or a woman, it's what we lack in ourselves.” 121 likes
“I prefer empty cages, Sabina, until I find a unique bird I once saw in my dreams.” 45 likes
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