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Anaïs Nin
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A Spy In The House Of Love (Cities of the Interior #4)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  4,587 Ratings  ·  331 Reviews
Although Anais Nin found in her diaries a profound mode of self-creation and confession, she could not reveal this intimate record of her own experiences during her lifetime. Instead, she turned to fiction, where her stories and novels became artistic "distillations" of her secret diaries. A Spy in the House of Love, whose heroine Sabina is deeply divided between her drive ...more
160 pages
Published September 6th 2004 by Penguin (first published 1954)
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Lynne King
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anais-nin
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
LaRaie
Dec 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to take a moonbath
Dolors
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Angie
Mar 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mariel
Jul 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  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
Gearóid
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
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
Adrienne
May 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: erotica
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
Marisa Fernandes
"Uma Espia na Casa do Amor" deixou-me indecisa entre as 2 e as 3 estrelas... A verdade é que quando me questiono se gostei do livro não consigo dizer que não gostei, mas também não consigo dizer que gostei.
A meu ver a obra tem um argumento com tudo para dar um livro interessante, no mínimo "agitante": uma mulher que apesar de viver com um homem que a ama decide ausentar-se, de vez em quando, alegando razões profissionais, mas tudo o que faz nesses períodos é experimentar o amor de outros homens
...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
Shilo
Jul 31, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nin
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.
Gabrielle Scabellone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Kaion
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern, unfinished
I was sort of sticking around to find out whether Sabina just really wanted lots of sex and all this "I am the morphing woman" thing was her sex-repressed way of justifying her sexual appetites, or if it was the other way around. Ultimately, I suppose it doesn't really matter, and to pin it down to one or another would make the book little more than a psychological case study.

Mostly, her lifestyle (and Nin's prose) seemed exhausting, and made me very happy to be in my jammies at night, cuddling
...more
Morgan
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
I first discovered Nin last year actually. Read a sample of her diary in a comic book anthology I own. Ended up really liking her. Thankfully my mom owns three of her books. This one being the first that was published the earliest.

I wouldn't start with this book though. I feel like I made the mistake reading an authors wok in chronological order this time. Most of the times I try to do that to see how a writer writes, but I felt like I was missing something with this one. Is there a book before
...more
Michelle
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
Heleen
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know no one who evokes the extremes of emotion and physical sensation as convincingly as Anaïs Nin. Exactly that might be the problem. There is no pause in the intensity of her prose. It's arresting, yes, breathless, certainly - restless, desperate, at times despairingly hopeful, and it's all of these things at once. Her sentences never stutter before gaining momentum again. They gallop along, endlessly, with sweat on their tongues, urged on by a writer who doesn't believe in taking a breath w ...more
Debbie Robson
Dec 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Siri Livingston
At page 7: What on earth is this ridiculously stylised... blather?

At page 30: Okay... maybe I'll finish this...

At page 60: *Gets out highlighter for really lovely observational passages*

At page 80: Oh god, what am I reading? When will this end? I can't stop...

By page 123: Thank goodness that's over!

At times the language is descriptive and lovely, like a blend of feminist Angela Carter and the most flowery of prose (maybe Wilde's in A Picture of Dorian Grey?).

At others, a pretentious, run-on sent
...more
Sarah Coe
Sep 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sophie
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Taylor
Feb 21, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-star
Gosh, this was dull and drear.
I felt like it just dragged on and on (which it did) as it laid on my bed side table for 4 months with only 10 pages left, of which I couldn't even bring myself to finish until now.
The moving from locations and times, for one, was just so incredibly messy. I was attached to absolutely no characters, nor interested or invested in them. The plot bored me. It was all a great shame because some of the authors other works I've read were very artistic and really beautiful
...more
Karen
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the portrayal of a woman being multifaceted and feeling pulled in different directions. Sabina was a character I think most women could relate to. Often I can see myself in different roles in life, or choosing different pathways. Sabina's struggles with choosing one role and not feeling like she is betraying another part of herself, or other people, is something I think made me as the reader feel connected to her. Excellent read. I also enjoyed the vocabulary used in this book.
Pete daPixie
I was stirred but not shaken by 'A Spy in the House of Love'. A short story readable in just a few hours. Well written and fast paced. A 1950's feminine view of infidelity and guilt.
Misha Chan
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written tale. Although, there was more thoughts then story. Nothing much really happened apart from this paranoid women, having affairs with multiple people, then feeling sorry for herself because she wasn't sure what real love was. I felt quite sorry for her really. But the fact that Anais Nin reflects some of her experiences and/or thoughts and feelings into this book, makes it all the more enticing to read. She's an interesting women and author.
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7190
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...

Other Books in the Series

Cities of the Interior (5 books)
  • Ladders to Fire
  • Children of the Albatross (Cities of the Interior #2)
  • The Four-Chambered Heart: V3 in Nin's Continuous Novel
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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.” 193 likes
“I prefer empty cages, Sabina, until I find a unique bird I once saw in my dreams.” 58 likes
More quotes…