Synopses & Reviews
It was a time of discovery and decadence, when life became a gamble and the gold that poured endlessly into the port of Sevilla devalued money, marriage, and love itself. In the midst of these treacherous times, Juan Tenorio is born and then abandoned in the barn of a convent. Raised secretly by the nuns, he learns to love and worship all women and wants nothing more than to be a priest, until he falls in love with one of the sisters. When their affair is discovered, Juan leaves the Church forever. He is soon recruited to be a spy by the powerful Marquis de la Mota, who teaches him to become the world's greatest libertine and seducer of women. But when he crosses swords with the most powerful man in the Empire, Don Juan must escape the murderous fury of the Inquisitor who battles all forms of debauchery, deviance, and heresy.
It is after knowing countless women that he is convinced by the Marquis to keep a diary, and it is here within its pages that Don Juan reveals his greatest adventures and the Arts of Passion he mastered. But what finally compels him to confess everything and risk losing his life, livelihood, and honor is the most perilous adventure of all the irresistible fall into the madness of love with the only woman who could ever make him forget all others.
"The famously insatiable lover is brought brilliantly to life in this lively, suspenseful debut novel by Abrams (coauthor of The Multi-Orgasmic Couple; The Multi-Orgasmic Man). Framed as Don Juan's long-guarded diary, the narrative picks up at a gallop and never relents, tracing Don Juan's orphaned upbringing at a convent and torturous monastery before he escapes and joins a band of thieves. He is soon introduced to the Marquis, who trains the then amateur Lothario to become equally adept at swordsmanship and seducing women. (Abrams's background in Taoist sexuality is evident in the latter's scenes.) Don Juan develops a reputation as 'some kind of demon,' but the Marquis, who is close to the king, protects Don Juan from the inquisitor general's plans to punish him. Nevertheless, Don Juan resists the Marquis's plea that he marry to save himself, claiming he has no interest in love until he meets pistol-packing firebrand Doa Ana. Abrams renders his hero with sympathetic understanding, and his erotic exploits though heavy on plumage ('I sipped the moist nectar of her mouth as she opened her petals to me') round out Don Juan instead of providing one-handed reading material. The story unspools with the invigorating trajectory of a thriller and the emotional draw of historical romance." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Capturing the decadent and dangerous world of the Spanish Golden Age, this historical novel explores universal questions about the nature of love and desire brought to life through Don Juan's secret childhood in a convent to his life as a libertine to his inescapable fall into the madness of love.
About the Author
Douglas Carlton Abrams is the co-author of a number of books on love, sexuality, and spirituality, including books with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Yogacharya B. K. S. Iyengar, and Taoist Master Mantak Chia. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife and three children.
Table of Contents
Rumors and Lies
A Flicker of Passion
The Desire of a Woman
No One Will Ever Know
Not Every Man with a Mask Is a Burglar
The Love of His Angels
A Vision of God
This I Cannot Do at Any Price
Like Salt into the Land
A Man Is Not Just What He Is Born
The Education of a Libertine
Gold in the Veins of Sevilla
The Slave Market
Taberna del Pirata
Secrets Never Stay Buried
A Thousand Nights with a Stranger
Sins of the Flesh
The Deadliest Sin
The Masquerade Party
Duchess Cristina's Invitation
Knowledge That Could Lead to Our Ruin
A New World
A Moth to a Flame
A Tour of Heaven
A Child of Deception and Cruelty
The Wager of Love
The Secret of Marriage
In the Name of the Holy Inquisition
Confession at the Alcázar
Dueling on the Rooftops of Sevilla
Doña Ana's Bedchamber
The Last Night: A Final Entry
Glossary and Notes
Reading Group Guide
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. As an orphan Don Juan depended on the convent and Padre Miguel for healing and growth. Don Juan writes: "It was from Padre Miguel that I learned God always sides with the weak, with the widow, and with the orphan" (p. 33). Discuss the quote and focus on the role of the statues, priests, and nuns during his early years.
2. One of the central themes in the story is passion and seduction, and Don Juan's ability to deliver these experiences to women. What qualities does Don Juan possess that make him so successful? What does this say of Don Juan? How would the women he encounters respond?
3. Don Juan repeatedly discusses man's inability to be monogamous and "to be faithful to one's wife seems like an unnecessary penance to almost all men.... I am not willing to wed a woman just to be unfaithful and untrue" (p. 111). What do you think of this statement? How does Don Juan's attitude change by the end of the book?
4. Don Juan's friend and benefactor, Don Pedro, the Marquis de la Mota, played a critical part in the development of Don Juan's noble character. Discuss the significance of the Marquis throughout the book. What forges their relationship?
5. Consider the following statement spoken by Fatima: "There was more pleasure in one kiss from the man I loved than a thousand nights with a stranger" (p. 120). Does Don Juan feel the same? What about the other characters?
6. For some, a sexual experience is a union and a bridge to profound feelings of oneness and bliss. How does The Lost Diary of Don Juan celebrate this idea of a blissful union between lovers?
7. How does the author illustrate the vision of Don Juan's true compassion for women to the reader?
8. Sword fighting was a critical part of a gentleman's existence during this time period. Discuss the art of sword fighting and how Don Juan develops his skill to perfection. How do his strength and his ability to fight with his sword affect how the women in Sevilla view him?
9. Finally Don Juan discusses "True Passionate Love" (p. 257) as he forgets all other women and discovers his need for only Doña Ana. What is it about Doña Ana that secures a hold over Don Juan? What does she have that other woman do not?
10. Don Juan eloquently breathes life into his desire and sensual ability to pleasure women, and is very successful at the art. Consider the following: "Was it not God Himself who made man to desire woman -- flesh of his flesh -- and for a woman's desire also to be for her man?" (p. 248). How is religion used to support Don Juan's relationships with women and his heightened talents?
11. Don Juan declares, "We shared our bodies with a fusion of love and lust -- which I now understand is nothing more and nothing less than the holy consort of love" p. 274). Discuss the beauty in the above statement. How does Abrams illustrate Juan's innocence and tenderness? How does this ending support the passionate ideals of today?
Tips to Enhance Your Book Club
1. Throw a Don Juan party and view the 2005 movie Casanova, directed by Lasse Hallström. Discuss the parallels and differences between Casanova and Don Juan.
2. For further reading on the historical influences of Don Juan, visit http://www.don-juan.net and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Juan to learn more about Don Juan's story. After reading these sites, discuss the historical influences of Don Juan.
3. The tender topics courageously approached by author Douglas Carlton Abrams lends itself to discussion of the oldest debated topics in the world: passion and relationships. Read the book coauthored by Doug's wife, Rachel Carlton Abrams, M.D., The Multi-Orgasmic Woman, for a further exploration of women's passion and sexuality. Let both books act as platforms for further discussion and appreciation of various viewpoints on the topic.