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My Hundred Lovers

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  255 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Lyrical and enigmatic, sensual and elegiac, My Hundred Lovers tells the history of one woman through her sensual and sexual experiences and relationships. A woman, on the eve of her sixtieth birthday, looks back on her story of sensual bodily experiences, with one hundred vignettes from a life adding up to one simple human truth.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published June 2012 by Allen & Unwin (first published January 1st 2012)
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3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  255 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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John Purcell
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers
Recommended to John by: The Author's Reputation
I enjoyed My Hundred Lovers. I recommend it to anyone who feels a little pale and dusty. There is life in these pages, enough, in fact, to take deep, invigorating draughts without exhausting the supply. I felt I was being invited into secret places, but not foreign places. Susan examines emotions, sensations and pleasures many of us will recognise. She teases out meaning from fleeting and now forgotten delights. The book moves gracefully and quickly, never stopping long in any one place, buildin ...more
Steve lovell
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
It had been a great trip to Melbourne with my mate. I had a ball in his company with our ‘adventures’ providing amusing entertainment fodder for my friends and family on my return. The following vignette is what led me to this book.
We rode on the good old No.96 from the city down to St Kilda to find a dining venue (being, as it turned out, the excellent Claypots where said mate became engrossed in the graffiti in the women’s loo – but that is another story for another place). Prior to exploring
Karen Beath
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. I really did. I’d seen Susan Johnson speak at the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival and it inspired me to read it. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind when I tried it but I found it to be horribly clichéd and at times boring.

My hundred lovers is told from the perspective of Deborah, a woman on the brink of fifty who reflects back on 100 sensual experiences throughout her life. Despite the title, Deborah does not actually have 100 lov
Stephen Ormsby
Aug 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
I disliked this book immensely as, for me, it had very few redeeming qualities about it. I was involved in the read-a-long with a couple of the other reviewers (Hi Bree and Marg!) and I was the devil's advocate for the group.

It is a very feminine book and I feel as though some parts were written sheerly for shock value.
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
My Hundred Lovers is written by Aussie author Susan Johnson and I've been reading it as part of an Allen & Unwin read-along, and you can read more about my experience on my blog.

The premise of the book is a woman turning fifty who reflects on her life and sorts through her body's memories. In 100 chapters, the woman - who refers to herself throughout the novel as 'the girl', Deb and 'the Suspicious Wanderer' - gives us her one hundred lovers; in essence one hundred sensual memories.

From fir
Charming Language
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Who were the greatest loves of your life? The ones that awakened every sense? The ones that you still dream about from time to time, fantasise about? The ones that you could encounter after years of absence and still get a tingle in the pit of your stomach? Did you appreciate that distinct buzz of a special love at the time you had it in your life, or is the memory perhaps sweeter than the reality?

Deborah is nearing her 50th birthday. She is processing her past and her future from this vantage
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Another Australian novel; it starts off really interesting then becomes to some extent cliched dreck with quite a bit of racism and uses marginalised people as rhetorical figures to add interest to the beige central character.

In the 2012 Best American Short Fiction's prologue or whatever, the editor said that good stories should transcend a person's singular life and pay attention to politics and wider events as well. This is wise, but the clumsy and non-integrated way that major Australian and
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Susan Johnson's writing is restrained, poetic and at times, uncomfortably honest - she writes as a fifty year old woman looking back on the things and people she has loved.You have to be prepared to let the story unfold, as small observations and as a disjointed narrative.

There is some amazing writing in there - to quote "She was with Celestine one late spring day when she met the man she knew she would marry.The knowledge came to her body first, a sensation that felt like intuition, a knowingn
Nancy Violet Whiting
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
The main character is determined to reflect on her life as a journey of feelings, not just as a series of events. “Tick-tock, tick-tock, the body remembers” – the touching, the tasting, the hearing, the seeing, the smelling of 50 years of womanhood. The book was so poetic and beautifully written. Brutally honest and raw with the human emotions and different types of love. I really enjoyed this book and would reccomend it to anyone who loves life or wants to love life a little more. Get a new per ...more
Irma Vanta
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Two stars for the theme. The style of presentation made it less interesting atleast for me as a reader. Ms. Johnson wrote it probably as a memoir, for her pleasure, just like her own personal photo album that she can only relate and appreciate the details of each memory. So many lovers, so many different personas, too many issues, dramas, successes, joys --- i did not feel, and did not understand.

Another overrated book. I recommended this book to a friend based on the reviews, now am taking it b
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, it is delightful & beautiful to read.

I enjoyed how Susan explored a woman's history or I could say herstory through the ecstatic highs, painful lows and unconscious complexities of her body. It felt like Susan was exploring an idea (the body's narrative that is not bound by linear time)and wrapped it within a fictional based narrative that moved easily between time and place.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it liked it
A fairly quick read filled with very short chapters outlining all the loves of "Deb's" life from her family, to chocolate, to rain, to her car, to her various partners, etc etc. Not particularly profound or life changing but an engaging read that you will very much fly through, and by an Australian author too.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
Did not enjoy the mix of first person and third person narrative. Jumped around too much in time. Did not flow well and felt that it was written as a pompous show off of words rather than the telling a story.

I can see how some would say it is poetic writing - but there was no substance to it.

Finished the last page and thought 'what a waste of time'.
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012
What an exquisite book. I read it slowly because I didn't want it to end. One of the best books I've read this year.
Naomi Impellizzeri
I appreciate this from an artistic point of view, but I think I'm just too prudish to say I enjoyed it. A lot of the things felt very unnecessary to sexualise, and made me rather uncomfortable.

My favourite was the croissant passage; very relatable.
John Terrey
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. Only for the bold!
Julia Mascadri
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
A good book to read before bed, with short somewhat standalone chapters. I enjoyed the way that Johnson explored how the people and things we love shape our lived experiences.
Paige Hadley
During the daily grind, we rarely pause to appreciate the small joys that life has to offer. My Hundred Lovers is literary fiction that celebrates these pleasures. At the age of 50, protagonist Deborah looks back on 100 moments from her lifetime of sensual exploration. These moments include everything from erotic encounters to the memory of her mother’s red fingernails. All prove how a woman’s head, heart, and body make one perfectly imperfect whole. This is a book about the raw beauty of life a ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
I am reading My Hundred Lovers (courtesy Allen & Unwin) as part of a read-a-long hosted by Bree at All The Books I Can Read over the next three weeks. Please be aware that it is likely that in answering the discussion questions, I will reveal spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Discussion Pages 1-88

Discussion Pages 89-172

Summary Pages 173-end

While fiction, My Hundred Lovers reads as if a confessional memoir- brief memories of physical and emotional awareness from the taste of a fresh croissant,
Cass Moriarty
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
My Hundred Lovers, by Queensland author Susan Johnson, is prose made poetry. In one hundred chapters, the protagonist chronicles one hundred sensual loves of her life, from physical pleasures such as fresh grass, cool mud squishing through toes, and the glory of flight, to foodie loves such as coffee, wine and croissants, to the sexual delights of lovers, the comfort of friends and family, the wonder of children, and the love of objects such as houses and countries. This book is a joy to read - ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved the idea of this book, what a fantastic way to remember various parts of your life, like random snapshots of yourself shown haphazardly in no real order.

It was a sensory experience reading this "That afternoon in the small bedroom the light was blue. The curtains were cream and blew softly in the wind. There was a cry, far off, almost out of earshot. There was a man in my bed and I did not know how he got there." and we were shown a glimpse in to the life that belonged to Deborah, a norm
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
About fifty pages into this I thought of Jeanette Wintersons' "Written on the Body" which is kinda funny cos I'd read that almost twenty years ago and I was surprised I'd remember anything from twenty years ago times being what they were, but such is the power of memory, stored like precious seeds til nudged gently into fertile ground. And this is the very essence of this surprising little novel. Susan Johnsons character Deb gently recalls her Myriad 'lovers' with such grace and tenderness that ...more
John Bartlett
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
The title of this book suggests pages full of raunchy sexual detail but this is a wonderfully sensual, funny and poignant reflection of an older woman and the 'loves' of her life.

These include the love of coffee, of a house of the attraction to birds as well as family and lovers of both sexes.
The language is poetic and earthy at the same time and although many chapters are just fragments of memories, of thoughts and recollections they amount to a whole life story told in the realistic flashback,
Sep 02, 2012 added it
This book deserves to be on the '50 books you can't put down list'! I took it to bed last night and couldn't turn out the light till I reached the end.
As other reviewers have said, it's not what you expect from the title. Her loves are so many people, places and things. That perfect dress worn till it was threadbare, the smell of coffee and fresh cut grass, the giggle of her little sister, wine.....everything! Every love, even 'fresh sheets', my personal very favorite thing in the world!!
Ok, t
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Susan Johnson's prose is exquisite, but this book didn't have a particularly thrilling plot (nor did it advertise itself to have one!) The thrill was in the reading, and in the untangling of the poetry Johnson writes. Her words are just magic. In saying this, it did take over six months to finish it, just because I picked it up and put it down again about 8 times, and while that didn't make much difference to keeping up (as it were) with the story, it did feel like a bit of a wading-through-mud ...more
Lisa Matthews
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! It was a delicious journey into exquisite prose and I just did not want to put it down, and finished it in two sittings. I loved the non-linear narrative and the shift from first to third person. I felt as though I was diving into someone's personal journal. I love the frankness and honesty of the book, obviously created for creative effect. This is the first novel by Susan Johnson I have read and I can't wait to read more.
Newtown Review of Books
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
As Samuel Beckett reminds us, we are all born ‘astride of a grave’, so there is no reason why turning fifty per se should signal impending decrepitude. Western culture has been quick to turn a dollar from women’s anxieties about ageing – you need botox! wrinkle cream! surgery! – so the response of Susan Johnson’s protagonist, Deborah, to her half century does not immediately auger well.

Read full review here:
Gayle Powell
Aug 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
annoyed the hell out of me to be honest. Didn't like how it jumped from third to first person depending on the chapter. Not sure if it supposed to be autobiographical, but the character comes across as an unlikeable self obssessed individual who seems to have the misfortune to meet and have sex with lots of unlikeable men!She seems to just give her body to anyone and not have any mind of her own, which made me just want to give her a big slap.
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
It started off well enough, but by the end it's unnecessarily repetitive self-indulgence. I'd grown bored a third of the way in, and left it sitting on my bedside table for months before I got fed up and read the rest this week. So much promise, such little follow through - which is very frustrating because there are some beautiful passages in there. It's a book I want to love, but which falls so far short of the mark it promises that I just can't.
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you don't like seriously funky structure, then you shouldn't get anywhere near this book. But if you enjoy going along with an author's experiment with unique methods of structuring a story, then this is a great example to enjoy. The voice is captivating and there are just some really incredibly delicious bits of prose throughout. I also enjoyed using the premise to think about my life-- if I had to name 100 lovers in my life, who or what would they be?
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Susan Johnson was shortlisted for the 1991 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for her novel Flying Lessons, shortlisted for the 1994 National Book Council's Banjo Award for the novel A Big Life and shortlisted for the National Biography Award 2000 for her memoir A Better Woman. Her other books include Hungry Ghosts, Messages from Chaos, Women Love Sex (editor and contributor) and Life in Seven Mis ...more
“She thinks of him lying there, the beautiful moment never arriving, never ruined, never disappointing, over. It must be sublime dwelling in that house of longing, forever poised on desire’s trembling tip, before everything is wrecked.” 4 likes
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