Synopses & Reviews
Called "a fantastic breakthrough into the dark content of female desire" (France-Soir
), The Sexual Life of Catherine M.
was the literary success of the year in
France, selling over 300,000 copies and becoming the most controversial book on sexuality since The Story of O
Catherine Millet, the prominent editor of Art Press, has led an extraordinarily active and free sexual life from alfresco encounters in Italy to a gang bang on
the edge of the Bois du Boulogne to a high-class orgy at a chichi Parisian restaurant. A graphic account of a life of physical gratification, the book is also a
relentlessly honest look at the consequences of sex stripped of sentiment including the joys and sorrows of her open marriage and a completely fearless
unmasking of the fallacies we cling to and the often shocking, sometimes disturbing truths of female sexuality.
The French press was equally admiring and appalled by Millet's daring, but Le Nouvel Observateur certainly spoke for them all when it wrote, "Sex is this
woman's continent, which she explores tirelessly. No one has ever described it like this." Now American audiences will have the opportunity to take home
"[G]raceful, thoughtful, oddly charming, and profoundly pornographic....Lacking the literary tradition of intellectual discourse about sex that Millet writes from...reaction [in the U.S.] is likely to be less sophisticated than it was [in France]. A bold, intelligent, pioneering tour de force." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[A] curiously graceful memoir....While women readers will find much of interest, male readers may have to overcome a certain emperor's new clothes-type discomfort, as they realize that Millet may know more about the male body than they do." Publishers Weekly
"There's group sex on the fourth page and a chapter that begins 'I really like sucking men's cocks.' But the most shocking thing about The Sexual Life of Catherine M....is that it isn't particularly shocking at all. A good quarter of the time, it works as pornography (and I use the term in a descriptive sense, not a judgmental one); the rest of the time it's a rumination on the nature of desire and pleasure and the experience of living a life that is specifically arranged to let desire and pleasure have their way with you. It's titillating, explicit, dryly funny and sometimes exceedingly puzzling....[The book] is a dare to every human being, particularly every woman, who claims to be sexually open. No woman has ever written a book like this. Millet speaks with so much matter-of-fact assurance about her sexuality and her exploits that she's bound to make enemies, even among those who insist they're anything but prudish....The Sexual Life of Catherine M. isn't a titillating read masquerading as an intellectual treatise: It's unapologetically both. But what's refreshing about it is the way Millet naturally assumes that we're interested in knowing why she thinks and feels as she does, instead of trying to convince us that we should be. Her raw confidence works like a charm: We hang on every word....Her sensuality is written on the page not in blurred curves and soft moans, but in a sign language that recognizes the beauty of a good stiff cock, and in the sense of fulfillment and heightened self-knowledge that comes with taking charge of it. Whether you share Millet's predilections is beside the point; what matters most is not what she says but how she says it. There are always going to be those people who wonder why anyone should speak as freely as Millet does about such a private thing. Millet's response, one that races far beyond the question, is, Why not?" Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com
"[D]elightfully unabashed....[Millet's] intelligent, detailed examination of female sexuality fascinates and titillates. Readers of all persuasions about sex will derive something of value from Millet's honest, deeply personal exploration of her desires." Bonnie Johnston, Booklist
"[Her] aloof, gracefully crystalline style is as elegant as any French pornography since Sade." Francine du Plessix Gray, Vogue
"[A] stylistic tour de force recounting three decades of sexual exploits....This book's pleasures are first and foremost literary." Saul Anton, Bookforum
"[Millet] relates her sexual life without trembling, and allows us to share her pleasures." Daniel Bougnoux, Le Monde
About the Author
Catherine Millet is editor of the prestigious French art magazine Art Press. She is also the author of eight books of art criticism, including Yves Klein, Le critique d'art s'expose, and L'art contemporain en France. She lives in Paris with her husband.