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Ages of Lulu by Almudena Grandes, Sonia Soto (translator)
By Prahana
"Sleeping Beauty" this book ain't. So if you're looking for the usual cliched mindless fantasy that characterizes much of the BDSM erotica out there, pass this baby by. Ms. Grandes has crafted a fine piece of erotic literature, a la darkest Anais Nin, which demands the reader THINK a little. WOW- what a concept! This book explores the baser aspects of D&S, and many may not like what Almudena has to say. Like it or not, however, as vehemently as we in the scene may protest otherwise, there is a GREAT deal of pathology in the BDSM D/S community. It frightened me a little that I identified so well with the story's protagonist, and the book actually made me question my own motives and reasons for being in the scene. Which is a good thing.

It is obvious that the author has been involved in a D/S relationship and it is interesting to speculate to what extent this book is autobiographical. It chronicles the precocious sexual awakenings of a young woman named Maria Luisa (Lulu), who, deprived of her mother's love and affection as a young child, turns to her older brother's best friend Pablo, for the nurturing and acceptance she so desperately craves. She is 15 and he is 27, when, one night after attending a concert, he submerges her into a world which will draw her down deeper and deeper until, at the book's end, she hits unfathomable depths.

"His tongue was hot, and tasted of gin. He licked my whole face, my chin, my throat, my neck, and then I decided not to think any more, for the first time, not to think- he'd do the thinking for me."

And so it begins... The obsession, the longing, the aching and relentless search for validation and acceptance. She becomes an addict as her sexual relationships become more perverse, more base: an interesting comment on the addictive nature of BDSM. At what point does one say "enough is enough"? Lulu is unable to make this distinction, and when her marriage to Pablo crumbles, she seeks out the service of homosexual prostitutes. She pays to watch them fuck, joining in when she can. It is her masochistic way of remaining connected with her ex, as she is fascinated with Pablo's relationship with her beloved brother - a relationship that was erotic in nature, and one that would eventually unwittingly involve her in order to satisfy one of her Dominant's more taboo of fantasies.

The unexpected twist at the book's end is brutally poignant and several degrees beyond disturbing. She is the sacrificial lamb, cleansed by her suffering, returned to the 'safety' of the fold. But the reader is left wondering, "where could she possibly go from here?" One also wonders what is DeGrandes' message? Is it to warn the growing numbers of people exposed to BDSM D/S via the hollow, sterile medium of cyber and mass media, that this lifestyle involves much more than the overly romanticized speculation found in chat rooms and the flowery fantasy of Anne Rice? Or is it a statement condemning the lifestyle as a whole: its addictive nature, its depersonalization, the frequent LACK of intimacy, and the potential dehumanization? Either way, this book will make you question what exactly *draws* you to BDSM D/S, and why it is you keep coming back for more....and more........ and more.

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