Read-a-long Part #1: My Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson

A woman, on the eve of her fiftieth birthday, reflects on one hundred moments from a lifetime’s sensual adventures. After the love, hatred and despair are done with, the great and trivial acts of her bodily life reveal an imperfect, yet whole self. By turns humorous, sharp, haunting and wise, this is an original and exhilarating novel from one of Australia’s premier writers.
Lyrical and exquisite, My Hundred Lovers captures the sheer wonder of life, desire and love.


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!

Pages 1-88

  • How do you feel about Deborah? Do you like her? Can you relate to her? Did you feel sympathy for her? If so, why and if not, why?

We are provided with candid, intimate glimpses of Deborah that are building up a picture of her childhood, her relationships, and the way in which she relates to the world. I have a great deal of sympathy for her because of her dysfunctional childhood and yes, I think I like her. I think I most related to Deborah when she contemplates “the first tentative signs of life waning”. Having lost several family members in the last two years,  approaching forty with the first sign of fine crows feet and grey hair, and being a mother to a blossoming 16 year old girl,  mortality has been on my mind.

  • Do you think that her upbringing and her parents’ fractured relationship sent Deborah on a path of looking for acceptance and love, often in the most unlikely and unfortunate places?

It is unsurprising that Deborah is attracted to men who have similar traits to her father. I think that Deborah cannot help but be affected by her father’s philandering, she is firstly a mute witness to it’s effect on her parent’s relationship and later unwillingly complicit in his actions. In the same way her mother reinforces a pattern of martyrdom and drama in a relationship so that Deborah unconsciously seeks situations that model the dysfunctional relationship she grew up with.

  • Does she use sex as a way to find or feel love?

I like that Deborah is passionate, even hedonistic, and surrenders to sensation. I think she equates sex with love and love with sex, but that is a common association in youth and we are yet to learn much about her as a mature adult.

  • Are you enjoying the book?

I think it would be more accurate to say I  am appreciating the book, rather than enjoying it. It is surprisingly compelling but not traditionally entertaining.

Return next Friday for a discussion of pages 89-173

Visit All The Books I Can Read to see what other readers have to say.

My Hundred Lovers is available to purchase

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 1girl2manybooks
    Jun 08, 2012 @ 12:28:27

    I can only imagine what being a mother of a 16yo girl must be like! Someone told me a long time ago that “boys are harder when they’re smaller, girls are WAY harder when they’re older!” but I think to see your daughter on the verge of adulthood must be an interesting experience for you.

    Deborah does seem to use both her parents as a model for her relationships, she often seems victimised, such as her mother claimed to be and also stays with a man who is unfaithful to her. And in her quest for acceptance from anyone, it seems, she chooses those who are bound not to give it to her.

    I think this is a very deep book! I’m glad that I’ll be reading it several times for this little read-a-long as I think it’s one of those books where the layers need to be peeled away and the more time you spend with the words, the more you see.



  2. Mari @Bookworm with a View
    Jun 09, 2012 @ 02:59:08

    I’m not going to read your post since I really want to read this one… if only I could find a copy! Its not in the US yet….

    My husband is flying back from Sydney tomorrow (your today) but I’m sure I can’t get him to pick up a copy with his busy work schedule. I do have a friend going for two weeks in July though… she will buy me a copy. 🙂



  3. Anna
    Jun 09, 2012 @ 11:47:57

    I haven’t read this book, but I have to say the cover is certainly striking!



  4. Trackback: Read-a-long Part #2: My Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson « book'd out
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