Read-a-long Part #2: 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.

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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!

Click here for my comments on pages 1-88

Pages 89 -173

“I did not know how to be intimate except through my body, as if I believed that in opening the door to my lips or my sex I had opened the door to myself”

I think this is the essential truth for Deborah in this section of the book, her inability to separate acceptance, approval and love from sexual intimacy, and the beginning of the realisation that sex is not enough.

The Husband: I haven’t read on, my assumption of lost is that he has died, but it it may just as easily be that he left her for someone else.

The abortion and its aftermath: I think Deborah choosing to have sex so soon after her abortion against medical advice, and with a man she is not really attracted to, is a way of punishing herself, as much as a symptom of being unable to say no. More interesting I think, is that the Linea Nigra does not usually show up til the second trimester so her pregnancy must have been fairly advanced before she noticed it, which says something about the disconnect between her body and her mind. “She lost her body so long ago she forgot she lost it.”

The Shadow Lover: To me the Shadow Lover is almost a surrogate for her relationship with her parents. He withholds his love and approval just as they did yet Deborah is desperate to prove herself worthy, “because the compelling drive to repeat the past is encoded in the cells of certain young women.”

The Grandmothers: I enjoyed the stories of Rose, Lili and Elsie, women of incredible strength.

The Deflowerer: I think most woman have a special place in their hearts for their first lover, that Deborah seduces him is morally reprehensible but also in character, she is desperate to recapture the joy and depth of emotions she has lost in the intervening years. That she vows ‘she will strive to find someone to love” when they part which tells me she recognises that she has not truly loved but that it is something she wants.

Return next Friday for a discussion of pages 173-End

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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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amritorupa Kanjilal
    Jun 16, 2012 @ 21:22:47

    Shelleyrae, this sounds like a very interesting book. It’s not often that we get to read something where the female sexuality is explored thorughly, without becoming a cliched joke. Looking forward to your final review!

    Do visit!

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  2. Trackback: Read-a-long Part #3: My Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson « book'd out

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