BeeQuiet's Reviews > Story of O

Story of O by Pauline Réage
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May 05, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: fiction, sexuality

I knew from first hearing of it that I should read Story of O, as I am a submissive myself and felt I would get a lot from it. In spite of its flaws, I did indeed find it fascinating, engaging, and I found myself thinking "Oh what a perfect way to describe it". This is a story of a young woman being shown her true self by her lover. O is slowly drawn into a secret world where she is used by many different men as a tool for their pleasure. She is bound and whipped, and forced to show her obedience and her submissiveness in many other ways besides. In spite of the obviously questionable nature of someone being tied and hurt beyond the stage when they are begging for it to stop, the point in this book is that O can leave when she wishes, however she must lose her lover. As opposed to being a story of domestic abuse, this is a story of O conversely finding freedom through having her freedom taken away. When O is bound, she is free to behave as though she does not want this treatment, whereas really, she finds the state of submission deeply calming on a fundamental level. When not bound, O is forced to request certain treatment. She wants this, yet her tongue is tied, she longs for control to be taken out of her hands - to let go completely. This is something that resonated with me, as for me being submissive is about freedom from having to think for a time.

I found many parts of this book difficult, as I could never go as far as O does, indeed the same would be true of a vast majority of submissives. However this is a story which shows the nature of the beast in a touching and beautiful way. I must admit I would have preferred clearer grammar at times, and I felt that the ending was neither an ending, nor an artistic statement. That said, I left it knowing that there are others that can feel the same feeling of release, in the same way. It's a softly delivered story of brutal emotions, one that I am very happy to have read.
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Herdis Thanks for a thoughtful review! I'm one of those readers who is deeply perplexed by the choices O makes. As a feminist, I'm trying to respect her agency to choose the life she wants (I find it so hard to believe that anyone would want this treatment that I kept looking for signs of coercion but really couldn't find any) and your review helped me along. Now, all I have to come to terms with is, why would any man want to treat a woman he supposedly loves in the way the Sir Stephen (and Rene) treat O? Any thoughts on that?

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