Review: The Juliette Society

photo courtesy of Amazon.com

When I heard that Sasha Grey had a novel coming out, I was jealous. I think my thought to myself was “great, even a porn star gets published before I do.” In reality, I had to tell myself, “No shit Sherlock. Her novel is actually written and yours is not.”
If you do not know Sasha Grey, she is a former adult film star turned actress/writer. Check out Stephen Soderbergh’s (if he directs it, I will watch it) The Girlfriend Experience with her. Was it the best movie in the Universe, no. It was interesting and actually made me curious to her adult films. Is The Girlfriend Experience like any of her adult films. Fuck no. Some of her films downright scare me because of the extremity she puts herself through. Honestly, I was nervous for the poor girl.
All of that brings us to her erotic novel, The Juliette Society.
From the book description on Amazon: Film student Catherine has a secret: a long-held dream, the source of all her sexual imaginings. A dream full of desires of which she is ashamed and embarrassed. And these vivid dreams eventually find their way into her everyday life. One night, at a club, she meets at a man who leads her into a strange world. And soon she is drawn toward the Juliette Society, an exclusive secret society in which all the deepest, darkest fantasies are explored. But for those who join this world, there is no turning back.
Sounds intriguing enough to me.
Besides, the writer in me wants to know if Sasha can write. The questioner in me has a shit ton of questions and wants answers. The curious me wants to know more about erotica fiction.
First, let me go on record and say I have read about half of 50 Shades of Gray and was so turned off by the writing, the whiney ass characters, that I never finished the novel. The sex scenes were just sex scenes. No forward movement. Just hey, let’s have gratuitous sex. Abuse me, dominate me, whatever, as long as we are having sex.
Having said that, The Juliette Society is none of that.
It’s written in a smart, updated, current of the times, way. It’s not dumbed down. It’s real. The dialogue is real. The characters are real. The reader connects to it because it isn’t a forced fantasyland. The characters are not whiney. Catherine is confused by her growing sexuality and desires and completely intrigued by her best friend’s confident sexuality and desires.
I didn’t find myself immediately liking/rooting for the main character, Catherine. Maybe she seemed a little too eager, too unsure, trying too hard, but I did understand her. I could see where she’s coming from. I understood her thoughts, questions, revelations, dreams, fantasies and so on.
Sasha writes in the forward: “This is for all the women and men like me, who at one point only had literature and film as an outlet to feel comfortable with the sexuality.”
Ultimately, that is what is the core of the book: Being comfortable with your own sexuality.
One of my favorite lines/parts is when Catherine is asking herself what is experience worth and does it cost? She answers: We’re all freaks. In secret. Under the skin. In the sack. Behind closed doors. When no one’s looking. But when someone is looking, or when someone knows, that’s when there’s a price to pay…And that price, it might be called many things, when it’s really just one thing. Shame.
Catherine feels shame for feeling, experiencing, exploring her sexuality and constantly seeks the freedom of the shame that her best friend seems to have with her sexuality.
Catherine wants to push her boundaries and her relationship with her boyfriend, but is she willing to lose herself and her relationship while doing it.
The sex scenes are not gratuitous to be gratuitous. They actually further the novel and confront Catherine with more questions about her life, her desires, her dreams and they give her answers and opens doors to her sexuality. They are brutally honest, aggressive, and real. (Something I thought 50 Shades of Gray wasn’t.)
I read this novel in one day so it’s a quick and easy read (but I also love reading). Overall, I liked the book. Sasha says she’s working on a sequel and I’ll read the follow up. I would recommend this book to anyone who wasn’t comfortable with their sexuality because it could possible help them become comfortable. I would recommend this book anyone who is comfortable with their sexuality as well as reminder that being comfortable with your sexuality is completely and utterly okay.