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The Sexual Life of Catherine M.

2.79  ·  Rating Details ·  2,065 Ratings  ·  250 Reviews
A national best-seller that was featured on such lists as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, and Publishers Weekly, The Sexual Life of Catherine M. was the controversial sleeper hit of the year. Since her youth, Catherine Millet, the eminent editor of Art Press, has led an extraordinarily active an ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 14th 2003 by Grove Press (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 12, 2007 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating history of Catherine's own sexploits as she searches for the "sexual holy grail." Despite the graphic nature of the book, it's clearly not meant to arouse the reader but rather to examine the notion of eroticism. The reader must divorce himself from the preconception that this book is meant to be overflowing with passion; that is plainly not the point. Catherine examines and then shatters traditional assumptions about gender, sex and sexuality. By turns graceful, aloof and above all ...more
Jan 14, 2014 Bree rated it did not like it
I suppose this was supposed to be propaganda for a lifestyle of casual sex with whoever comes your way. God knows I'm open-minded, but I don't think I've ever been so turned off by a naughty book. She seems completely checked out of all the fucking she's doing, often narrating from a distance as she's getting stuffed full of cock. If she think it's this wonderful, liberating thing she's discovered, she certainly isn't selling it very well. I winced and made my 'yuck' face through the whole thing ...more
original review, based on reading it in french: It was only readable because it was in french. It was boring; about a woman who has no ownership over her body, lots of sex, rather depressing.
Angel Preble
Jul 26, 2007 Angel Preble rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: finished
I was really looking forward to reading this, albeit in a "trashy-Nora Roberts" kind of way. If anything, I was hoping it might be some triumph for women's lib, that Catherine Millet was able to own her sexuality and not be afraid of "having sex like a man". However, she somehow takes a subject that should be interesting and juicy and makes it dull and lifeless.

This was easily the most boring thing I have read. a coveted spot formerly reserved for Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Those promoting ab
May 05, 2008 Lynn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Uh, yeah... I wouldn't read this one on the train. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Never has so much sex been so un-sexy.
Dec 06, 2007 Tove rated it it was amazing
I loooved this book, it's sexually explicit, but ultimately more of a philosophy-of-sex book than straight erotica. The sex acts described are daring but dryly written in most cases, not necessarily meant to titillate, but to provoke thought, written by this highly intelligent French art historian woman.
Jan 28, 2008 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mitch
Recommended to Eric by: The New Yorker
pretty decent pornography by a woman but not a very interesting book at, er, bottom. Yes, she is wildly horny and about as far off from Puritanism as you could hope for, but . . . she's sort of a like a dude in a woman's body in terms of how she views her philandering. Somewhat depressing though I have to say, thumbs up (yer snatch, Miss Millet!) for being a freak show w/r/t to sex while still holding down an academic post. It seems that in France, they have sex grab-bags and group gropes like t ...more
Feb 06, 2008 Julia rated it it was ok
Shelves: sex-therapy, memoirs
Huh. I don't know that I have much to compare this book to...I don't usually read memoirs of a life spent having group sex combined with contemporary art criticism.

On the one hand, Millet failed to convince me that she has a healthy amount of self-esteem. On the other hand, who does, and who am I to judge? So, despite being skeeved out by some of the more graphic images (what a t-shirt that would make...this is your snatch after twenty guys who didn't use condoms...YUCK), she held my attention
Mar 05, 2009 Lindsay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lindsay by: Judy Ball
This book was a little too much for even me. I mean, I don't think the activities in this book are wrong, they just physically repulsed me at times. I've always thought myself as an open-minded person, especially sexually. But I'm having a hard time finishing this book because of how hard it is to read at times.

I do have to say that I think this book is very eye-opening, and a good read. I would recommend it to someone who wants to read a different perspective. But I can't help feeling almost di
Jun 21, 2008 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sexuality, memoir
I really liked this book, though I understand why people who picked it up expecting erotica of the Anais Nin sort, or people who expected the kind of self-involved confessional that often takes place in memoirs published in the US, would not have liked it. Millet writes about her very outsized sex life with a detachment that makes it sound like she is writing about someone else, reporting some kind of clinical research. I also found this detachment off-putting at first, but the more I read, the ...more
May 07, 2008 Yulia rated it did not like it
Catherine M is sexless (at least towards men), as cold and clinical as a mortician. Fuck that! She has no passion, no fire, no desire even. She just does--in every imaginable way, which isn't shocking, just curiously boring and unexciting. The only scene that showed a peep of desire was, no surprise, when she was with a woman, which makes it clear she can fuck men (and many at one time) to her heart's content with no strings attached because she doesn't give a damn for guys. If she'd only explor ...more
Sep 04, 2008 Robert rated it it was amazing
The five stars are for the title. I wish I'd thought of that. One also has to admire her honesty. I liked the bits where she recounted her fantasies - how I laughed.

The title specifically describes the content as her "sex life". One should not therefore expect anything else from this.

Forget not that she is elderly now, and the events she describes wouldn't be crammed that close together in time. One suspects that her detachment reflects the fact that she is now someone else - maybe the fire is o
Mar 23, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
“Millet’s sexual memoir...actually succeeded in taking the sexy out of sex, surely her greatest obscenity,” writes one reviewer of The Sex Life of Catherine M. Mario Vargas Llosa described the book as a “carnal gymnasium, devoid of any sentiment or emotion.” Even Jean Baudrillard chaffed at Millet’s exposure: “If one lifts one’s skirt, it is to show one’s self, not to show oneself naked like truth.” Written with the precise eye of an art critic, the book is a fantastically detailed, if detached ...more
Feb 23, 2009 B rated it liked it
I needed to read something interesting and fluffy enough to read that could hold my interest while I'm back stage in the dressing room waiting for my cue to enter and throw up fake vomit on stage. So far, so good. This book can definitely underscore the screaming of obscenities and feigned sexual acts on stage.


I like talking about sex. I like thinking about sex. I thought I was fairly free and adventurous when it came to sex. This book proved me wrong. I'm small potatoes. Little bitty potato
Trixie Fontaine
Mar 27, 2009 Trixie Fontaine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Frank, dirty, forthright. I celebrated every disgusting detail she shared. There were so many things she's "into" that I'm not (ex. gang bangs) but I *recognized* her as a sexual being and woman and could relate to her motivations and casual attitude towards immersing herself in sex while successfully maintaining a career. While I'm not personally a big fan of dirty assholes, I totally GET how they turn HER on. Fantastic stuff. I don't know if the translation adds to the matter-of-fact tone or i ...more
Valerie Baber
Jan 17, 2012 Valerie Baber rated it did not like it
Shelves: sexuality
In the beginning, I found it highly amusing that Catherine Millet spoke so candidly about very detailed, raunchy sexual escapades while still maintaining a very proper voice. In fact, when I began the story, I read it next next to a man who had his own book to read. Heavily into war and politics, his reading material was something about the situation of world affairs, but every time I looked over, I noticed that his eyes were on the pages of my book! It was unfortunate that Millet's voice so qui ...more
"(dirty words) need less reciprocation than caresses do (and are) always more stereotyped, and perhaps some of their power derives from the very fact that they belong to the most immutable inheritance. So, in the end, even words--which should help to distinguish us from each other--serve to fuse us all together and to accelerate the annihilation of the senses that we are all trying to achieve in these moments." -page 33

A thoughtful insight in a book that, so far, has been a stunningly fulsome li
Sep 09, 2009 Missy rated it did not like it
Shelves: bleh, erotica
Boring and not sexy.
Paul Bryant
I nearly want to reread this to see how she pulls off the remarkable feat of writing about having limitless unbridled ravenous multiorgasmic sex and making it duller than the weekly shop in Sainsburys and less erotic than funny shaped vegetables. "Oh look, dear - there's a two for one offer on lesbians this week." "Hmmm... we just don't have enough room in the fridge. And they look a bit wrinkly to me."

Please note due to issues with space the start of this, the first 23 days are here:

Day 24 I’ve been trying to work out how to describe my latest knitwear creation. Just imagine you were getting too much. Honestly, way too much. You can’t wake up in the morning or walk down the street for lunch without somebody wanting it. So you put on this jumper and I’m buggered if I understand what happens next. Something to do with quantum physics, at any rate. You ar
May 19, 2010 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 24, 2010 Adrienne rated it really liked it
Shelves: foreign-language
There have been lots of great reviews for this book so go read some of the 4 and 5 star ones.....most of the reviews for 3 stars and below really miss the point of this book, they're either looking for a porn style tittilation, an erotic 'story', or literature (with no knowledge of either erotica or porn) this provides neither. I wouldn't even call it a memoir, more an exploration into why and how Ms Millet explores her sexuality through her numerous erotic encounters, and how her mind and body ...more
Melissa Jackson
Apr 16, 2011 Melissa Jackson rated it did not like it
I was hoping this book would provide psychological insight into Catherine's extreme and masochistic sexual urges. I am usually fascinated by anything completely opposite my own experiences. What I got instead was a repetitive, dry, somewhat vulgar account of her endless sexual escapades, with little to no reason or thought behind them. She writes about herself and her partners in a detached voice. This book was not groundbreaking, as the back cover states, or informative. This book was a misguid ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Ruthela rated it really liked it
Contrary to many others, I really enjoyed this. Did not find it dull at all. A satisfying challenge to the idea that women only want sex with love. Also a great exercise in fantasy without prudishness or restraint. A freedom of thought and expression I envy.

And I did find it filthy. Shows sex can be enjoyed from many different perspectives. She does not expect us to do what she does but says she does what she does and wants us to accept it.

Huge complexity of character when reading between the
M. Sarki
Nov 20, 2013 M. Sarki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-wonders
I can think of no other book so smartly written and probing of the human sexual condition than The Sexual Life of Catherine M. The author of this personal memoir, Catherine Millet, sought throughout her adult life to become indifferent to her every orifice in ways most of us would find entirely unacceptable behavior for a woman of her standing and intelligence. The fact that she is a respected art critic who publishes a high brow art publication lends credence for me to everything she has to say ...more
Oct 14, 2011 Alex rated it really liked it
Fascinating insight into female sexuality, explored through the remembrances of a somewhat atypical intellectual's own experiences.

The book lurches from one chronology to another, harking backwards and forwards to other parts of it's brisk 200 odd pages, but despite the lack of form, and the detachment with which the author details her sexual history - though erotic, this is not erotica - this is one of the most frank, open exposures of a personality you may ever read.

Highly recommended - thoug
May 05, 2012 BeeQuiet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Modern art critic Catherine M. here details her sexual life, both in acts and in thought, from childhood to marriage in a way which provokes more thought than titillation.

I can understand the frustrations of people who have read this book and found it tedious in the extreme, however coming from a background of studying sociology and focusing especially on the sexual, I found it fascinating. Catherine's level of detachment allows for a more nuanced appraisal of her own sexual experiences, bringi
Henrik Schunk
Jan 30, 2013 Henrik Schunk rated it really liked it
I must say, I cannot agree with other reviewers on this site. I would never go as far as call someone sick, especially if there is no harming other people involved. The book is a quiet intense account of the authoress sexual encounters with various men in her life. If you are looking for a more imaginative or fairy-fairy approach of the subject matter, probably Anne Rice's "Claiming of sleeping beauy" would be a better choice. Catherine Millet's book however is gritty, postmodern and inspiring.

Mar 14, 2015 Chasc rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Acheté chez un bouquiniste à Bruxelles, édition France Loisirs laide.

Je n'ai pas compris. L'écriture est telle que j'ai eu l'impression d'une passivité totale de la part de l'auteure. Il arrive des choses à cette Catherine, beaucoup de pénis se mettent dans son vagin/sa bouche mais on ne comprend pas pourquoi.
James Barker
There's no doubt that this is a bold treatise on sex beyond piffling morality and should be applauded as such. But by the time the writer tells us (on page 202), 'But fucking can be boring too,' it is too late. This reader had already come to the same opinion long, long before.
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“I can no longer pretend that I believe in God. It's highly possible that I lost this belief when I started having sexual relationships.” 6 likes
“I heard André’s voice saying his girlfriend wouldn’t be bashful in coming forwards, and his words sounded a little muffled because I did indeed already have my T-shirt over my head.” 0 likes
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