Kitty's Reviews > Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair

Nine and a Half Weeks by Elizabeth McNeill
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Jul 20, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: bios-and-memoirs, whips-and-chains-oh-my
Read in January, 2010

This book starts off rather simply. "The first time we were in bed together he held my hands pinned down above my head. I liked it." McNeill goes out with a friend one day and remembers a scarf she saw in a booth down the street that she regrets not buying. As she makes her way back to purchase it she meets a man and just like that they settle into a love affair. This whole book possess an indisputably tense erotic undercurrent that, depending on your sexual preferences, may or may not do it for you. However wither or not you find it titillating or repulsive, it should be read by everyone for no other reason than it serves as a very harsh cautionary tale to its readers when it asks the question what does it mean to loose ourselves in desire?

Who is the man McNeill has an affair with in the book? We don't know. He has no name, no face, and the few glimpses we see into his everyday life are bare and scarce. He rescues an abused cat so we think he must be good only to learn that he does so grudgingly only after the fact that he knows some children have half tortured it to death. Is he good for his kindness and generosity or cruel for letting the crime pass so nonchalantly? Who knows. What is important here is not him as a person but the indisputable power he holds over her. He demands that she stay equally faceless in response to his own desire and unquestioningly she capitulates. The few times we do see her rebel she is twisted and turned out each and every which way by him emotionally until she comes screaming and crying back to him to sit at his feet. And perhaps the most astounding part of this is how frighteningly erotic these scenes continue to be as McNeill related them to us in a strangely monotone prose that can both echo the simplicity in which she learns to embrace her desire and eerily juxtapose the violence of the passion she encounters. The pages practically steamed in my hands.

This is not to say that this is a depraved book and it certainly wasn't one of those books where I found myself wanting to shake the girl every few pages. It seems to me that there's nothing wrong here other than the fact that the two people within this just simply had no stopping point. She was willing to become something bland and faceless to please not only him but to gratify herself and in the end she paid for it dearly - I think the last lines of this book will haunt me, if not for the rest of my life then at least for a very long time. There is a powerful punch packed in this slim book and its not to be missed.
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