All The Books I Can Read

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My Hundred Lovers Read-a-long – Discussion Post #1

on June 8, 2012

Hello everyone and welcome to the first discussion on the read-a-long of My Hundred Lovers! Hopefully you all have read pages 1-88 but don’t worry if you haven’t, there’s no pressure! Read at your own pace and come and join us whenever you are up to speed. Just be aware that if you have not completed the first part of the read-a-long that this post and the comments will contain

***SPOILERS***. 

Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way….

Firstly how is everyone enjoying the book? I know that when I put my hand up to host this, I was told that it was “brutally honest” and I have to say, they weren’t kidding! It’s probably one of the frankest stories I’ve ever read, the blunt but still sensuous style painting a meandering picture of our protagonist’s life from 0-50 years. Are you enjoying all of the “hundred lovers?” Is there anything in there that has made you uncomfortable? Don’t be afraid to ‘fess up, that’s what we’re all here for.

Our narrator, Deborah, is a woman who seems to have spent her life in pursuit of pleasure and happiness. We learn about her childhood through her short memories – a distant mother, disappointed in Deborah’s looks, jealous and angry at her husband, often resentful of her children, not wanting them. Good in theory, but not necessarily in practice, is how Deborah’s mother seems to find her experience with motherhood. She retreats with alcohol and at one stage in the book, holds a knife to Deborah’s throat. On the other hand, we have her father, painted as someone who shouldn’t have been good looking, but was. A womaniser, he was apparently with another woman while Deborah’s mother June was giving birth to her and Deborah bears witness to his infidelities when she is around 12 years old, also helping him hide them.

  • How do you feel about Deborah? Do you like her? Can you relate to her? Did you feel sympathy for her? If so, why and if not, why?
  • Do you think that her upbringing and her parents’ fractured relationship sent Deborah on a path of looking for acceptance and love, often in the most unlikely and unfortunate places?
  • Does she use sex as a way to find or feel love?

Of course this book isn’t just about sex… Deborah chronicles animals that have been special to her, people in her life such as her Nana Elsie, her car Claudette and also food. The chapter entitled Cheese-Chocolate-Croissants is one of my favourites in the whole novel – rich with description, ripe with imagery. I wanted to eat everything that was mentioned, so vivid and real was the writing. Did any of the chapters stand out like that for you?

I’ve lifted a couple of quotes that resonated with me that I think might also be good in terms of a discussion:

Romance between the average couple dies two year, six months and twenty-five days into marriage (p1)

This is the opening line of the novel. I found this interesting because it’s such a short amount of time! I’ve only been married about 17 months, so it would sort of depress me if my marriage was to die in another 12 months! Do you think this opening quote is significant in how Deborah feels about marriage, from her experiences with it?

 

When the knife was at my throat I left my body. That is to day, some part of me detached itself from my own skin. You mightsuppose that at the moment I left my body, I began my long quest to reunite myself with it (p12)

The first boys fingers to touch that secret pulse are her brother’s (p19).

Her father never tries to seduce the girl in a literal sense but he seduces her into a world of sexually incontinent, feckless men, so that for many years the only men she finds attractive will betray her (p44).

In the months leading up to my fiftieth birthday I observed the first tentative signs of life’s waning. The blood which had flowed from me month after month for almost forty years began to flow fitfully. At the same time the face I had worn all my adult life began to change into the face of someone else. I was forced to understand that there was a direct link between the body’s hormonal succulence and the succulence of youth (p5).

Okay now I’d like to turn it over to you guys to come and voice your opinions! Please feel free to bring up any topic, issue, etc from the novels, whether I’ve mentioned it or not. There’s nothing that is taboo (as you’ve probably guessed from the novel itself!). I hope everyone is enjoying taking part and that the discussion only enhances your reading experience of this book.

-Bree :)

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63 responses to “My Hundred Lovers Read-a-long – Discussion Post #1

  1. Sussan Khadem says:

    Hi Bree, great post. I enjoyed the book very much and the words ‘sensual’, and ‘visceral’ kept coming to mind as I read it. After I finished, I found that every review I read of the book described the book as ‘sensual’ and ‘visceral’ as well. Like you, I enjoyed the segments describing food, I think Johnson has a real talent for taking the everyday, ordinary experiences of life and transforming them into something extraordinary and magical.

    I believe that many people will be able to relate to Deborah. Men as well as women. I think that Johnson refers to Deborah as ‘the girl’ more often than as Deborah to suggest that she is a type of ‘everywoman’. As I was reading I found myself recalling my own experiences simultaneously. I felt that the writer is someone who truly loves life, and wants to share her love of life with the reader. Chapter Seventeen, p.41, Deborah describes her experience of flight: ‘I was confirmed in my love of going somewhere. The earth was free and the sky was open!’ Sometimes you read a person’s experience of flying and it’s all about the jetlag, the bad food on the plane, the cramped space and the annoying passenger seated beside them, but Johnson makes everything sparkle.

    It was a joy to read.

    • Hi Sussan, fabulous detailed comment, thank you! I definitely think that ‘sensual’ is something that comes to mind for most people when they read this and I like the addition of ‘visceral’ too. I also agree that the everyday comes up well in this book, the simple pleasures such as food, her car, her pets, grass, etc. It’s easy to relate to her when she’s mentioning these things, it brings back memories of your own favourite pet, or your own favourite summer day smelling freshly cut grass and feeling it on your bare feet.

      I did wonder about the continued reference to ‘the girl’ and I like your connection!

      • I found it a really interesting device, ‘the girl’ references. I was trying to pick a pattern to its use? Did you guys see a pattern as to when she referred to ‘the girl’ as opposed to herself in the first person?

        • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

          The ‘girl’ references seem to dominate when she relates incidents involving her mother, perhaps to emphasise the distance between them and also remove herself from the immediacy of the painful situations?

          • I’d agree with that. There is a definite sense of disassociation…

            • Monique says:

              I realise I’m jumping on to this discussion quite late in the piece, so forgive me if in my long-winded way I am just saying “ditto” to many of the previous comments.

              I’m finding this book quite unusual for a number of reasons. Bree, you are right to sum it up as frank, or “brutally honest”. It surely is that, particularly when she describes sex – a few of the descriptions were disquieting for me – the 7 year old Deborah masturbating and her sexual play with Nina Payne for example. I did find it confronting that so many experiences were sexualised, such as when Deborah’s mother scratches her back. I used to do that for my son and he clearly got pleasure from it. But sexual pleasure? I don’t even want to go there… it could be argued that the sensual pleasure she felt is different from a sexual pleasure – but then I read the sentence again “my whole body arched in an ecstatic involuntary shiver”. I agree with Tracy: Deborah’s sexual curiosity did seem liberal.

              Yet, while in many aspects the book is direct, it also wavers from almost clinical and detached prose to the more intimate in terms of sensory experiences. There are some beautiful passages about “grass”, “sunshine” that are almost deconstructive – these first experiences are pulled apart into feelings and senses: “she heard the shackled nature growing, trying to revert to what it wanted to be”.

              Like Stephanie, I felt overall that the book was quite emotionally distant – to the point where it did affect the way I felt about the main character. I knew a lot about her, but I didn’t know her. She stops short of pulling me in and feeling like I really understand her. The moments of “closeness” I did feel were just as quickly shut down, reverting to those clinical descriptions that that were at times off-putting in their directness. It’s almost like she wants to shock. To make up for her supposed lack of physical beauty by drawing attention in other ways, by shocking. Do I like her? I don’t know yet. I can’t decide. I do feel sympathy because she seems so lost. Like she wants to be herself, but isn’t really sure of herself.

              I also noted the use of “the girl” and wondered if there was a pattern to it. Susan, your suggestion that “the girl” infers a type of everywoman is interesting. I hadn’t seen it that way. I saw it more as a continuation of the detachment from emotion. Several times when Deborah refers to “the girl” she refers to her family, especially her mother and her first husband; on those occasions it seems that she is disconnecting, or dissociating, herself from any hurt or other emotion she may be harbouring towards them or those particular memories. Yet, when she refers to things like her first physical lover, her mouth, words and so on, she is confident to use the first person. Those are not memories she needs to distance herself from.
              http://1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/my-hundred-lovers-read-a-long-discussion-post-1/#comment-form-load-service:Twitter

  2. I’ve really enjoyed the first block of this book, and I agree that it’s incredibly sensual. At the same time though, I found its matter-of-factness was very gritty.

    I’ve also found it quite confronted in some ways, as I felt that Deborah had a real propensity to sexualise every situation. Even her memories of pets, food, friends was sexually charged… or am I reading too much into it?

    It’s quite a beautifully written book and I’m looking forward to reading more!

  3. [...] of bloggers participating in a readalong/discussion of My Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson. Swing by here to join [...]

  4. Reblogged this on That Book You Like… and commented:
    I’m participating in this read-along, and it’s great so far!

  5. Feistykel says:

    I agree with the comment above about Deborah sexualising everything, and that is a little confronting, but you know I really adore the language in this book. It has such a poetic vibe to it, and I love the way that it lilts along.

    Some favorite parts that I marked: “fear reveals the things we love, and without it to tell us what it is we find most precious, we might never know what we love at all.” (p67). How true that is!! And what a beautiful perspective! I loved that.

    I was also fascinated by her shadow lover (ch32). How desperately infatuated she was with him at the time, and how now she can not recall his face at all. I wonder if we all have that experience? I could identify one I’m sure.

    I can’t decide if I like her or not. At times I think that I do, then something she says catches me as slightly off… I guess her upbringing has played a role in her ‘quirkiness’ and her sexualisation, no doubt her father has. I know how many girls use or used sex as a way to feel love or acceptance, and I can see how she has done similar – but at the same time, I think there is more to it than that. I think sex fascinates and thrills her on many levels. Psychologically, emotionally, physically.

    I am curious to read more about the relationship with her sister, there has been enough teasers dropped around that to make me think it’s worth knowing more about. I have paced myself to read to this schedule (or I’ll forget everything!) so I don’t know yet how things end.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Kel! I think you’ve raised some excellent points, particularly about her Shadow Lover – I do think that most people have someone like that in their past, where the fascination, the obsession, was absolute and then in time, they fade to become this shadowy figure looming, the details forgotten.

      Her unusual upbringing does seem to have really had an impact on her relations with both men and women in her life. She seems to seek something, almost desperately at times (she stays with lovers who cheat on her, much as her mother did with her father) and she uses other people to explore her sexuality (such as Nina Payne in her childhood).

      I found her relationship with both her siblings very interesting indeed! In fact I think the dynamics of the whole family are quite fascinating.

  6. [...] 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 [...]

  7. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    Hi Bree, here is my contribution to the discussion.
    http://bookdout.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/read-a-long-part-1-my-hundred-lovers-by-susan-johnson/

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, as someone who has been married 16 years, I can tell you romance and marriage are unfortunately often two separate things – but it doesn’t mean the death of a marriage :)

    • I think that’s a good distinction, the death of romance versus the death of a marriage! I have to admit, I’m not much of a romantic person actually, my husband is far more romantic than I am! If anything, he’d probably be the one complaining that the romance is gone!

      Off to read your thoughts!

  8. It’s interesting that the word ‘sensual’ keeps popping up because for me, particularly these early chapters when the girl is mostly talking about childhood, it was more about the ‘sensory’ – the way things looked, felt, tasted, smelt. (I also loved the chapter about food).

    I think all kids, regardless of circumstances at home, are ‘sensory seekers’. For that reason, I didn’t find it overly sexual. A good example is her description of being in bed with her Nana, her mother and her siblings – she describes “…a huddle of bodies, ankle against ankle, a fug of human breath…” (p.61) and listening to stories. Also chapter four where she describes being in the pram under swaying jacaranda tress, rippling light, the sun on her skin, and chapter fourteen about her mother’s red fingernails.

    I’m also going out on a limb here by saying that I thought the girls experiences (sexual and otherwise) were less about reacting to her family situation and more just ordinary experimentation that many kids, teens and young adults undertake. NOT that I could identify with all of the girl’s ‘experiences’ but there were many that I could – her first boyfriend, the shadow lover. I’ll be interested to see how the story unfolds and how much my opinion changes regarding this aspect of the story!

    I really like Johnson’s writing style – it’s both stark and descriptive at the same time. I was certainly marking lots of lines that I really loved –

    “My heart has a memory.” (p.6)

    About her dog – “I felt his heartbeat, lighter and faster than a human’s, as if all his life was being used up more quickly. I lay with him in my arms on the carpet or grass, and he gave out great, hot sighs.” (p.38)

    And for the most thought-provoking quote – “But fear should evoke our gratitude for its ability to reveal us to ourselves. Fear reveals the things we love, and without it to tell us what it is we find most precious, we might never know what we love at all.” (p.67).

    • It’s interesting that you mentioned the girl’s reaction to her family. I agree, I think that her views, experimentations and fascinations perhaps started with her family, but I didn’t really feel that she was the way she was because she was reacting to or making up for her slightly crazy parents.

      I think she was just very curious, very bold and her family influenced her in such a way that she acted on these things.

      As you say though, more may be revealed…

    • Franciska says:

      I completely agree with you! I haven’t read ahead either and certainly wouldn’t describe the content thus far to be sensual or sexual for that matter. I think you hit the nail on the head – the girl’s experiences are in fact more about ordinary experimentation.

      Johnson is certainly honest in her descriptive accounts and I can see how some might find it shocking. After all, not many people openly discuss details of their sexuality let alone childhood experimentation.

      • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

        I agree Franciska, I don’t find the depiction of childhood sexuality unusual or even shocking. Having taught young children for several years, and raising 4, Debs behaviour is not unusual in my experience – children are curious about their bodies and other peoples bodies so they look and touch – just like they do with everything else – but most already know that they aren’t to share that curiosity with adults so its something we are rarely confronted with or quickly deny.

  9. Interesting to see that you characterised this one as visceral and sensual. Unlike some of the others, I haven’t read ahead, so I can only comment on what I’ve read thus far rather than on the book as a whole, but I’m quite surprised by how emotionally distanced the book is.

    I think it’s quite arguable that the girl’s experiences, sensory though they undoubtedly are, are necessarily sexual and/or sensual. Much of what I’ve read seems to emphasise sensory experiences: touch and smell and so on, as well as the gravity of the odd snatch of memory. There are memories that seem as though they should have emotional gravity, but on the whole I get a strong sense of detachment.

    The sexual elements, I think, are quite fleeting, and they’re curious in that they’re often not constructed by the girl herself, but by those around her: I think in part this is why they feel so distanced, and why the girl describes herself largely in the third person. There’s a lack of agency, and thus the girl feels unwilling to ascribe these feelings/emotions to herself.

    In fact, I wonder how many of these experiences have been retrospectively created (ie, sexualised *after* the fact) due to this external application of sexuality and sexual identity–it seems as though the girl has internalised some sort of belief as herself as a sexual object, but it’s not necessarily a belief that she owns herself.

    • Franciska says:

      Hi Stephanie

      As per my reply to the post above yours – I haven’t read ahead either and I wouldn’t describe the chapters thus far to be sensual either.

      I have to agree with the final question your raised – it does seem like some of the accounts have been sexualised retrospectively. It fees like the girl is giving an account of her life in a way that she thinks others want to view her.

  10. Oh my gosh, what a shock this book is to me!! Whilst I don’t really like it much I have persisted. Deborah is one messed-up woman. From the overtly described masturbation technique at 7 (and I’m sure that is was seven) to the falling in love with her father to jumping between first and third person.

    I knew that this would be a hard challenge for a bloke, but man oh man, is it tough. I have found very little to like so far. I had never though chick lit was written so specifically for women. if these writers broaden their style just a bit, they might find a completely new audience (men that is), but otherwise only half the population will ever read this. In some ways, I’m glad for this so far.

    So I have tried at least to answer the questions posed:

    I find Deborah entirely screwed and screwed up. I cannot relate to her on any level yet. I found very little in common with any of the loves (even after considering them from a male/female POV). I have no sympathy for her and would not like to meet her – especially in a darkened alley.

    Her upbringing has sent Deborah on a path of self-destruction. She has placed herself in these situations almost as if she needs the thrill in her life.

    Sex is just a toy for her.

    Now, apart from that, I find the writing style messy and the first/third person changes most annoying.

    • Stephen I was looking forward to your thoughts, given you’re the only male among us and it’s quite interesting that you seem to be right at the other end of the scale! I do agree that this is a book that a lot of men would certainly have difficulty relating to and also enjoying and given the controversial subject matter, I’m sure it adds up to a very unusual experience for you!

      I’m going to get my husband to read this just so I can get his thoughts too, for another male perspective to see if you two have similar thoughts! What do you normally like to read?

      Your thoughts on Deborah are very definite! I do agree that she is quite screwed up, it seems that her childhood didn’t give her the best start in life, she was subject to emotional manipulation, bullying and even active ridicule from her parents. She has some lovely childhood memories but a lot of them are also very unusual, sexually charged and occasionally disturbing. You say she has placed herself in these situations, because she needs a thrill… do you not feel that she might also seek simple acceptance and love but be completely unaware of how to find it, given her parents?

      Are you going to continue along with us? :)

    • For what it’s worth Stephen, I don’t class this book as ‘chick-lit’ – for a start, there’s not a shoe, handbag or a hot-pink cover in sight ;-)

      • That’s true, this is definitely not chick lit

        • Could you please let me know what chick-lit is compared to this? What type of lit would you call it?

          • Chick lit isn’t a term that people like to use as much now, but the sort of stuff I find chick lit is Sophie Kinsella, Cathy Kelly, Marian Keyes, Jennifer Weiner. It’s usually light-hearted and fun, involving a woman who has a problem (loss of her job/fiance or significant other, etc) facing the challenges of getting her life back together again. It’s often humorous but with serious undertones or addressing serious issues. And there’s a happy ending.

          • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

            I would call this simply contemporary fiction but it is aimed specifically at women, definately not chick lit and not really what i would consider womens fiction either – it has a much more literary bent that I would expect from either of those genres – maybe womens lit?

  11. Reblogged this on Stephen Ormsby and commented:
    Here’s the first discussion post and my comments included.

  12. Hello all, many of you have commented on the segments of My Hundred Lovers I have enjoyed, so instead of repeating them here, I’ll share what I found surprising or confronting that hasn’t been raised yet.

    The first is the girl’s relationship with Nina Payne. (I love the author’s use of ‘the girl’ too by the way). On pages 20-22 she has Nina walking around in a skirt without any underwear and then makes her sit on the ground with her legs apart says: “the girl would have stuck her finger in except that her friend stood up and ran away.” Am I the only one that found this a little confronting?

    Even though I didn’t do it myself, I know girls practice kissing with each other, but I found the girl’s sexual curiosity went further than most and I want to know why. Perhaps this will be revealed later in the novel.

    I was also shocked at the mother’s cruelty on page 18 when she says to her naked daughter in the bathroom: “I don’t remember my inner lips being so exposed when I was a girl.” I mean, way to give a young girl permanent body issues, and what loving mother would be comparing their daughter’s body to their own anyway?

    How did other readers respond to these two sections? Were there raising of eyebrows, quickening of pulses or did you all take it in your stride?

    • I found those pieces very confronting and almost cruel. In no way have I found this tittilating.

    • I did find that scene very confronting and for me it did go further than children naturally exploring a curiosity…. I do know that children often like to look at each other’s differences or sometimes even kiss, but this scene did seem to take it one step further.

      I think her mother is the reason for many of Deborah’s acts and thoughts, whether Deborah realises it or not. She’s concerned about her appearance, and this seems to stem back to her mother’s disappointment with her looks and also the passage you have highlighted on p18 where her mother makes open study and judgement about the way Deborah is formed. It is certainly a very unusual and unwise thing to say to a young girl, who would probably struggle with body image anyway without having glaring abnormalities pointed out by her mother.

  13. Sussan Khadem says:

    I thought Deborah was most at ease in the company of other women. Even when she is fighting with her sister, the passion and envy is never really equaled in the male/female relationships. But maybe that’s just the way I interpreted it.

    I would be curious to see what other men have to say about this book too. For me it’s absolutely perfect and I couldn’t find a fault. Sometimes you get given a book to read or review and you have to really push yourself to get through it. With this one, I just felt myself totally connecting with the narrator and wanting to become involved in the world that was created. I liked the transition from girlhood to adulthood and the way Deborah becomes a ‘Suspicious Wanderer’. The discovery of feminism and women’s liberation was most interesting to me, and I found it fascinating to watch Deborah’s character evolve after being introduced to different feminist ideas. A lot of people shy away from labeling themselves ‘feminist’. But here with Deborah, she embraced this revolution of ideas and grew more confident out of it.

  14. Susan says:

    Hello everyone.

    I adore the idea that a ‘lover’ can be any sensory experience that somehow comes to mould one’s perception of love. After all, women are (generally) sentient beings, and our connections with love are rarely just physical. Like Deborah, if I were to deconstruct my own understanding of love, I’d end up with a spectrum of threads gathered from a patchwork of experiences, feelings, memories, songs, movies, people, moments etc. My idea of love is indelibly interwoven with my emotions, so love is something precious and fragile, and ultimately personal, much like one’s own double helix.

    I don’t think that the first third of “My Hundred Lovers” is meant to be shocking, even though some of the subject-matter is confronting. If anything, I was more disturbed at my own discomfort when presented with an open discussion of female sexuality. After all, images of the female body are ubiquitous—film, television, print, and advertising media ritualistically paw over the supposed hedonistic lustfulness of women with everyday monotony—so why, then, should I feel so unnerved by the subject of women’s sexuality? Arousal, orgasm, masturbation, all become dirty words when discussed outside male nomenclature, with representation of the female nether region generally polarised as either pornographic profanity or shameful taboo. Reading the early chapters of My Hundred Lovers made me question my own squeamishness, and consider why something so natural as a girl’s sexual development be anything but prosaic.

    I think this first part of the book is about the complexity in learning about love, and how influential we are during this tender development. Having to somehow separate love, sex, infatuation, lust, need, and pleasure from one another isn’t easy, especially when no-one necessarily outlines boundaries of appropriateness, or warns of the maddening influence of hormones. The example of the love Deborah has for her father is a good one for its complexity and irrationality. And I should point out, I think it is very important to remember that the early chapters aren’t meant to be sexual, otherwise that would suggest something perverse. For example, ‘Mother’s Red Fingernails’ captures a thrilling memory that Deborah has of an exclusively intimate time she shared with her mother; it isn’t sexual, it is just a rare interaction between them that Deborah cherishes because it made her feel valued.

    Has anyone else begun to wonder what their own list of hundred lovers would be?

    • I totally agree with your summary Susan. Yes, I have been thinking about my own ‘hundred’! And I’m thinking I might even write them down (purely for my own benefit, of course).

    • That really is a great question. I think we should all do a list of at least 10 loves or lovers. If only to see if they correspond in some way with Deborah.

      • Fabulous idea! I love it

        • I would have to start my list with:
          - my wife (muse)
          - being able to write
          - midnight blue sparkling (from Blue Pyrenees)

          • Hmm.. here’s my 10

            My husband and the freedom he gives me.

            The minute childbirth is over! There’s relief and also amazement and you’re handed this tiny little bundle. Both mine were peaceful after birth, staring at me with big blinking eyes. I held my first one immediately, but it was close to 20min before I got to hold my second boy after he was born because he was ‘forgetting’ to breathe. The relief was double for that one, when I finally held him, warm and pink after seeing him born bordering on blue!

            The first beautiful spring day after winter when the sun feels hot and you can smell fresh-cut grass and go barefoot.

            Books…being surrounded by hundreds of books. Seeing shiny new ones waiting for me to pick them up and become immersed in them and seeing well-worn ones and knowing there’s a story inside that I loved and that spoke to me.

            The soft, patient big brown eyes of a Thoroughbred.

            A long, lazy drive where it’s warm, the window down, feet propped up on the dashboard with the sort of conversation that could continue forever.

            Coke (the soft drink variety!)

            Fresh sheets on the bed

            The first day of a holiday

            Jeans… I own close to 50 pairs. They’re my “thing”.

    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

      Its great to have your thoughts Susan – I appreciate it and somewhat relieved that I am on the same page so to speak.

  15. [...] week we have read and are discussing pages 1 – 88. You can see Bree’s discussion post here, be aware that it does contain SPOILERS if you have not yet read the [...]

  16. Megan Warren says:

    Hi Bree
    Great post – I have blogged and posted some thoughts at my blog – interesting discussion. I am enjoying the book and agree with many of the comments here that it is very sensual and often times confronting.

  17. Paula says:

    Howdy!
    Loving everyone else’s comments and that we are having different reactions, some of them quite strong. I am with Stephen that I am not enjoying the book that much but the saving grace for me is that it is easy to read and not tiresome.
    I like that there should be at least one ‘lover’ you can relate to at some stage of Deborah’s life, whether it is a past love, family insecurities or for me the love of my first car and how I cried for hours after I had to sell it. I felt like I was letting my car down by trading it up for something newer and more shiny. Glad there was a chapter on your car being a ‘love’.
    I don’t find the book particularly shocking or confronting so far but maybe because I was looking for it coming into the book.. I thought it may be similar to Andrew McGahan’s “Praise” and his descriptions of sexual encounters but am glad this book has a more subtler feel and is open to interpretation.
    I was also struck by the fact that for a book that is focussed on lovers the loss of Deborah’s virginity didn’t really seem to rate. No matter if it is a great or bad experience this first sexual encounter is something that I thought would take its time and let us in a little more. I found this interesting that this sexual encounter barely rated a mention.
    Looking forward to coming to the end and seeing where Deborah ends up. Like Feistykel’s comment above, I am also curious to see where the relationship with the sister goes and if the hints come to fruition.

    • If you want Paula, feel free to list some of your “loves”. I do think that even if the book isn’t for you, there’s definitely an easy way in which it reads. I enjoy the language and the writing but the book would still be very easy to get through even if I didn’t.

      I agree that her lack of elaboration on her loss of virginity seems very curious, given all of the other experiences highlighted in fabulous detail for the reader.

      • Paula says:

        Hey Bree! Yeah agree that it is an easy read and mentioned that in my post. Also agree that the language is beautiful. I am also finding the more I read the more I am enjoying Deborah and her journey…but will save that for next week! :)
        Thank you for your gorgeous list of “loves”.
        Some of mine would include: the smell of coffee in the morning, the feeling of a clean house, when a film starts and the excitement of what lays ahead, opening a new book and the joy it gives you, seeing the name of someone you love come up on your phone, a child running into your arms, the smell of horse on your hands after you have been riding all day, a nice glass of wine (or two), any sunset or sunrise, the sound of the tent zip opening in the morning when you are camping, a new pair of pyjamas, a first kiss, a smile, knowing it is pizza night, road trips, walking the streets of a foreign country and feeling like you are on holiday from yourself, a girl’s weekend, playing any kind of board game, holding someone’s hand, a cat’s paw touching your face, the knowledge that in the space of a second life can change and the possibilities that brings, getting to a film set and knowing you made it all happen and sitting down to write.

  18. Marg says:

    Better late than never….here are my thoughts on the first section of the book!

    http://www.theintrepidreader.com/2012/06/readalong-week-1-my-hundred-lovers-by.html

  19. Jessi says:

    I got started on this book over the long weekend, I had no electricity for 24 hours so spent a good amount of the day reading. I really enjoy the style of writing and that she classifies objects or places as her loves as well as lovers. It really is brutally honest, with many shocking situations. I like that she has included times she has been embarrassed or unsure, as many of those situations are what shape us as people.

    I haven’t made up my mind yet whether I like this character, or the book itself, but it is making for an easy read. I also like that each love is a chapter, it makes it easy to pick up and put down in between housework etc.

  20. [...] 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 [...]

  21. [...] Fancy Goods; a sincere and very personal response at This Charming Mum; the Readalong hosted at All the Books I Can Read; and thoughts from my friend Marg at The Intrepid [...]

  22. [...] Hundred Lovers, by Susan Johnson (Discussion – Parts One, Two and [...]

  23. [...] can find the full discussion at the host blog: All the Books I Can Read. However, it does contain SPOILERS, as do my comments below. Some of my comments do refer to other [...]

  24. […] can find the full discussion at the host blog: All the Books I Can Read. However, it does contain SPOILERS, as do my comments below. Some of my comments do refer to other […]

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